Translated by Katrina Hassan
Shipwrecked, going from storm to storm, having tried everything to reach the edge and not being able to float on my own, I quit. I thought the waves would take my lifeless body, but suddenly, I don’t know how and why, I have asked myself a thousand times. I still don’t know the answer, but in the darkest of nights, it appeared to me. The most beautiful lighthouse took me in it’s arms and cloaked me with its warmth. Since then it has healed my wounds with its tenderness and guided my way with its resplendent light.
The lighthouse, patient and delicate, has lulled me in its lap, when I’ve been trembling with fear. It has sat down to listen to my angry childlike arguments, the rejected adolescent, and the rough tough woman which expresses herself in every way possible, with bitterness.
With tender hands, the beautiful lighthouse wipes my tears away. While throughout the years I passed through catharsis to catharsis, explosion to explosion, mixed feelings, internal fights and a fury that swirled inside me 24 hours a day. Instead of throwing me back to sea so that the waves finished off the little that was left of me, the lighthouse cloaked me and the ballast that kept dragging me down, preventing my mobility.
I saw its eyes seconds before losing consciousness. Its face appeared through the fog and darkness. Those eyes that when they met mine, undressed me. There was nothing I could do to hide. There was no modestly whatsoever that could hide what that beautiful lighthouse knew about me. At the beginning, the closeness terrified me. The feeling of hands caressing me, seeing its eyes observing me tenderly. The warmth of its shelter panicked me. The first thing I did was try to escape, run far from all that that was unknown to me. I ran, escaped, and came back many many times. I stayed, and little by little the notion to escape ceased.
Little by little the beautiful lighthouse of my storms gave me the stability that I needed to continue my path. It gave my life equilibrium. That is how, with its care, I slowly recuperated from my wounds. I stood up and extended my wings. Apart from everything else, that lighthouse transformed me. Under its care, I went through a metamorphosis that shattered the heavy chains that had immobilized my body. With its delicate hands it signalled the far off horizon. The horizon that seemed impossible to reach and touch.
Nothing is impossible for the lighthouse that saved my life and taught me how to fly. It taught me how to stretch my wings, elevate myself in flight and play in the wind at the greatest of heights. Even if I fly far, I always come back to the lighthouse, to its cloak and delicate hands’ caresses. I come back to the light in its eyes, its stability and its tenderness.
In the metamorphosis that I experienced, I became a writer and poet. My first love, painting came back to me. That beautiful lighthouse made me a poet, a writer, a painter. My poetry is born only for it. It is my poetry. All my books have been dedicated to the lighthouse. I will keep dedicating them to it until the day I die. I paint for it, my colours are chosen for it. All my paintings, without caring about the shapes are dedicated to it. They are born with it, shine for it, dance for it, live for it. I write for the lighthouse and only the lighthouse. I dare stretch my wings for it, and only for it, so it can see me plough across horizons and play in the wind.
I am alive thanks to the lighthouse. Thanks to it, life gave me another opportunity to find myself.
There is a before and after from this lighthouse in my life. My story begins to rewrite itself the moment it takes me in its arms and saves me from drowning in that dark and stormy night. I have managed, little by little, to stand up. I could not have done this alone. I did this with the help of the lighthouse. It has helped me recover my voice, take care of my soul and to value myself as a person and a woman.
I was like an empty lot, like a desolate highland that bloomed thanks to the lighthouse. Thanks to it, I recovered my love of dogs. I hadn’t touched one in 28 years because of an emotional wound in my childhood. I started to plant seeds again, also having given it up for many years. I cooked my favourite food again, something else that I’d had given up. I had made myself shrivel up and almost die inside. I was rotting and full of bitterness. Thanks to the lighthouse, I also stopped jumping from bed to bed, exchanging sex for someone else’s embrace.
The beautiful lighthouse healed my wounds and taught me that I don’t need the embrace of others and to disrespect myself. All I needed was within me. This is how suddenly, it sprung, from my unconscious mind. Surely I had hidden and locked it under seven keys, my first love; painting! Painting embraces and cloaks me, it makes my soul bloom in absolute happiness.
Thanks to that beautiful lighthouse, I also, stopped stuttering. After the border crossing, I could hardly speak because I stuttered so much. I recorded my first video, audio and then later my YouTube channel, and radio columns all for the lighthouse.
What I want to say is that Ilka has arrived at this day standing tall. She is a woman is that is learning to respect, love, and value herself. She is a writer, a poet, a painter. All this because of the beautiful lighthouse that has come into her life to transform it. The beautiful lighthouse in non other than Carolina Vásquez Araya.
Maybe the hardest thing apart from my ire, thanks to the circumstances of my life, has been to fight against the stigma of growing up in poverty, being undocumented and working in the domestic service industry. Against that fury and frustration, I got only strength, patience, wisdom and comprehension from Caronlina. The support for me was not to memorise this as my place in society and not to give up. To the contrary, it motivates me and pushes me to wake up every day looking for a way to find other roads, without disrespecting myself.
She transformed the ballast that I was into what I am today. I am a human being conscious of my worth and I have to continue resisting. Even if I fall a thousand more times, I will stand up again and cross horizons only for Carolina, so she can se me playing in the wind.
I have been lucky enough to cross paths with Carolina. She stopped to look at me and all, that is purely thanks to her generous heart and pure soul.
I could just say that thanks to that beautiful lighthouse, Carolina is my friend, my guide, my teacher, and my mother that life placed in my path. She is none of those things, for she is superior to all that was aforementioned. She keeps me alive. She is the pure air that I breathe.
With love, Carol, I wouldn’t be Ilka without you.
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Ilka Oliva Corado. @ilkaolivacorado