Buenos Aires en 100 palabras (41)

noviembre 12, 2019

¿Qué es una imagen? Te preguntás, en esta época de visuales institucionalizadas en las performances políticas. Una imagen es sobretodo lo que se encuentra en el vacío entre dos imágenes. Lo que está en el medio. Lo que no se alcanza a ver del todo. Lo obnubilado. Lo aburrido. Lo desenfocado. Una imagen es así, pensado de esta forma, una detención. Un congelamiento. Un stop. Un límite. Y en ese detenerse del tiempo y del espacio, en esta fotografía de tu vida, comprendés que se juega, por ejemplo, la metonimia. Una imagen congelada, una existencia explicada.

Here and There

noviembre 11, 2019

By Maximiliano de la Puente

This work has been awarded the First Prize for unperformed plays, Municipal Prize of Literature, Theater and Music of the City of Buenos Aires, biennium 2008/09, Theater Category.

It has been premiered in 2010 as an audiovisual medium-length film, co-directed by Lorena Díaz Quiroga, at Espacio Fundación Telefónica of the City of Buenos Aires. It has been selected by FECICO (Film Festival of the Suburbs) 2011, First Film Festival of La Paternal 2011, and Itinerant Festival of Human Rights 2012: “State + Rights”.

1.

Prologue.

A girl leaves recorded messages to her father, who lives “There” (in an unknown and strange foreign country). She lives “Here” (in a well-known and familiar nearby country) with her mother, and her sister Juana. The recorded messages will be sent to the father by mail. When she addresses her father, the girl talks directly to the recorder. Suddenly, she interrupts herself to ask something to her mother, who is very close to her, listening with attention.

Girl: Mommy, should I tell daddy that Juana cried when he left?

Mother: Tell him whatever you like, love.

Girl: Daddy, Juana cried when you left.

Mother: Tell daddy we are all right.

Girl (straining her voice, using a solemn tone): Daddy, mommy says we’re all right, that everything is all right.

Mother: No, don’t say “mommy says…” You tell him, love. On your own. It’s important that it comes out from you so daddy can feel at ease there.

Girl (in the same solemn tone as before): Daddy, mommy tells me to say that we’re all right… that everything’s all right here…

Mother: No, love. Tell daddy whatever you like. But don’t tell him I tell you to say we’re all right.

Girl: All right, mommy. I’ll tell nice things to daddy. You’ll see.

Mother (happy): That’s what daddy wants to hear, darling. Your dad is going to be very happy when he listens to you, darling.

Pause.

Girl: Daddy, I love you, and miss you a lot. When are you coming back?

Silence.

2.

Year One. Dawn, covered with snow.

Father: My dear little princess: I adore you, you know… I hope you’re fine. Here it’s very cold, as always. Very cold, and lots of snow. It almost makes you sick. It makes you sick to see so much snow. You have to take it away in buckets, in basins… Maybe all this sounds odd. Or difficult to understand. I don’t know. You’ll tell me, with the years. When you are older.

Girl: Soon, daddy? Are you coming back soon?

Father: The apartment where I live is very cold. When I get into bed I use ten blankets. That is how people live here. Covered to the head. Each one with his cap, not to get a  cold. If you get a cold you never recover again. It is very possible to end up dead. Or  living in the streets.

Girl: We get along very well without you, daddy. Why the fuck did you leave?

Father: I hope my little princess is fine. I want her to be nice with her little mates. Yes, I know that she is very pretty. But besides that she has to be good. Not only with her family but with her mates. She has to share, she has to lend her doll to her friends. She has to be a good girl. I know it’s difficult to be good. But that’s precisely why, my little bug. I hope you understand me, little princess. Be compassionate, please.

Girl: Sometimes I think we miss you a little. Specially mummy. And me too. A little.

No, it was a joke. A lot. We miss you a lot, daddy.

Father: Here everybody seems to be cold. They walk quickly. As if they felt the cold too much. Nobody wants to be in the streets for long. They take long-distance buses, or taxis, that here are green. Some of them even ride bikes. Bikes. They are an issue here. I’ll tell you later. At noon nobody is outside. Except for the homeless. There are many. Thousands. Millions. I don’t know how many. There are more people outside than inside the houses. Nobody is inside. Only the privileged few. That’s why I ask you to make a little effort and be compassionate, my love. Please learn to share. No. I have to  be clear about this. Persuasion is useless. YOU BETTER FUCKING SHARE. Don’t be selfish, spoilt girl!

Girl: Specially on Christmas. How many Christmas have you spent away from us, daddy?

Father: Language is weird. They don’t have our alphabet. I can’t manage to understand  how letters are formed. I try it every day. I live taking classes. But I still can’t. And that makes everything more difficult.

Girl: Mummy cried in such an odd way. So deep. With so much pain. I didn’t know she could cry like that. I didn’t know that mum could cry until you left. She had never cried before, as far as I remember.

Father: I sleep late. I look at people in the streets through my window. They sleep or play to remain awake, so as not to die freezing. If they sleep, they die. Specially at  night. That’s why they prefer to sleep by day. In a basement, in a school, wherever. They have white hair. Very white, almost fluorescent. It’s painful for the eyes to look at them. The ones that have hair. Because there are many bald ones. The bald ones have their heads covered by snow.

Girl: She wrote a lot. Until late. She started writing to you only very late at night. What  did she write? I don’t know. I always wanted to know. But mummy hid everything. I  never knew what was going in her head. Or what she did. I never knew nothing about  her. I guess she was writing to you, daddy. I don’t know why she took the trouble. But  she did.

Father: Here you suffer a lot from the cold. I’ve already told you that, haven’t I? I’m sorry. It’s just that the cold is everywhere. All the time. Even in the brain. Some people say it’s the most ancient inhabitant. The one that never left. Because everybody left this place. There was a tremendous exodus. And the summer? Impossible to know. It’s been decades since last summer. There are lots of things. Water. Wind. Rain. Snow. Frost. Hail. But what you can’t find here is summer. And since everybody is so young, nobody remembers anything. Or they remember very few things. Besides, they have a custom of forgetting everything. More than a habit, it’s a saying. But a saying that turns into a practice. And everybody forgets everything. Always. That’s why every day you have to introduce yourself. Everyday is like a rebirth, a new possibility. Starting all over again. Searching. Finding. Every day.

Girl: Every day is the same with mummy. Writing. Always writing. Every night. She sent us to bed, and she started writing to you. She thought that we didn’t know, but I did. I spied on her. She slept very little. Poor mummy.

Father: Yes, I know it looks weird. But here it’s like that. We don’t find it weird. They don’t, I mean. To me it still is a little.

Girl: I know it will look strange. But that’s how it is, and who are you to tell me anything? Who do you think you are, now, to give me orders? You don’t have the right.

To me, you are no one, daddy.

Father: I work nearby. It’s just a few blocks. But you can’t go walking. If I did, they would fine me. I have to take the subway. Or a bus. At just one stop I’m at the office.

Girl:Is it always cold there? Or it is like here, that sometimes it’s hot and sometimes cold? When it’s hot it’s terrible. It seems like the tropics. And the humidity, God. It sucks. Winter on the other hand is nice, you can live with it. Mild, temperate and gentle. It runs out slowly. And it doesn’t come any more until the next year. Like you. Only that the winter comes every year. But you don’t. You never came back, and you will never do. Isn’t that right, daddy?

Father: The problem is that there, right at that bus stop, millions of people get down. Millions, literally. I never counted them all, but some day I’d like to do it. I’m going to stay in the middle of the station, and when people start to get down, I will count them, one by one. It’s gonna be tough. But somehow I could get to know how many they are.

Girl: I don’t want to lend my dolls to anyone. No. No. No. No. I don’t like it. I don’t want to. Those girls are going to break them. I don’t care what you say, daddy. I don’t want to. My dolls are mine, and nobody else.

Father: Did I tell you how we met with your mummy? It was a beautiful summer. The sun on your skin. Life at its highest splendor. The promises… Youth… Desire… She was listening to the radio… I… I don’t know what I was doing, I think I was passing by, nothing much… like an idiot… We were very happy. Until I came here. We agreed on that. There were a lot of tears from both of us. We thought about it, and we believed it was the best for everyone. For you too, of course.

Girl: “You were mine one summer”. That was what mummy sang all the time. I don’t know that song. I don’t know it. It doesn’t mean anything to me…

Father: The same happens at other stations. Millions get down at each of them. It’s an impressive spectacle. Oppressive. Each one the head of a pin going to work. Some of them never get back. They stay in the road, lost, sick, dead. But then at the next day you will see some others replacing them. No one knows from where they’ve come from, the new ones. Nor why they weren’t there before. But right at that moment they appear. As if they had been waiting, crouching, the opportunity of their lives. Some even say the President sends them. So that the absence would not be perceived.

Girl: She went out with many men. I have to tell it to you. You have to know it. But it’s not her fault. Rather it’s your fault. Maybe it was something you agreed on, who knows. Once she almost got married again. How do you say it? A bigamist. Yes, that was mummy. A bigamist. A double life. A double personality…

Father: They pay me to do what I like. That’s a great relief. It makes me miss you less.

I don’t work fixed hours. Sometimes I go in the morning, and sometimes by night. And they always let me in. Each day I do something different. A different task. One day I have to do something with the hands. On another, something more of the head, intellectual activity. And, of course, there is some place for handicrafts. My boss is one of the bald men I mentioned you before.

Girl: Don’t think that she didn’t miss you. Mummy couldn’t live without you. That’s  why she dated other men. To forget you better.

Father: After I finish doing all that, I come back home. The company has a bicycle for each employee. But they only let us use it when we leave. I don’t know why. I never ask that kind of things. I accept them. It’s very difficult to ride a bicycle in these streets. They are so steep. In the hospitals there are always bike riders. They are almost the only patients. Many stomach surgeries are also performed. The food is terrible. Some prefer not to eat. There are people that say they have never eaten. Never means at least for seven years. They drink a lot of water, that they do. A bottle of one litre mineral water each two minutes. And they never go to the bathroom. They say they can control it. But I don’t believe them.

Girl: Specially in the summer. She liked to go out with men in the summer. It was then  that she remembered you most. When she missed you most.

Father: Here everything looks alike. Everything has the same color. There are no differences. Yellow, pastel, or creamy green are the same. The same. Black is lethal. It’s  fashionable. Red never marvels anyone. And blue… it’s an object of contempt. As if  they were afraid of it. Like the fear of remaining alone, at night, hungry, homeless, blind. As it happened to many. As it happens to many. And all of that, for them, is blue.  Blue is homelessness. Blue is hunger. Misery.

Girl: I had my first boyfriend when I was fourteen. He was eighteen, but he didn’t look like. I mean he was an asshole. What other thing can you expect from a boy of eighteen?

3.

Father: …snickers…

Girl: …ckers.

Father: …carrot…

Girl: …rrot.

Father: …T-shirt…

Girl: …irt.

Father: …underpants…

Girl: …pants….

Father: …trousers…

Girl: …sers…

Pause.

Girl: Daddy.

Father: What, love?

Girl: What is spring, daddy?

Father: It is a season, honey.

Girl: And is it nice?

Father: It’s beautiful. It’s when nature blooms, people love each other, and treat others better, love. Everybody sings and dances, they are merrier and happier. It’s hot. The sun shines. The days grow longer. Nights get shorter. It’s the time of the year when hope and love are reborn among human beings, sweetie.

Girl: Are we now on spring?

Father: No, love. It’s winter.

Girl: And when are you leaving on a trip, daddy?

Father: When spring starts, honey.

Girl: Are you coming back?

Father: Of course, sweetheart. How could I not come back to see you?

Silence.

4.

Year Two. Dawn, covered by snow.

Father: While I have breakfast I look at the paper, full of drawings. Three pictures, one  word. That’s the equation. They say it’s for people to understand. Making it more visual. Only a few know how to read. Those who go to school. Officers. And those who are  citizens. Breakfast is an issue. Dry bread and toasts. Crunchy, that’s true. Forget about butter and jam. They are unknown. They don’t get here. It is comprehensible. Nobody wants to go through the strait.

Girl: One morning it was early, and mummy went to the doctor. That’s when everything started. What seemed like routine inspection turned into something more serious. STOMACH CANCER. Her cancer was waiting for you.

Father: What are you doing, my little princess? I haven’t received any letter from you or any drawing. Why don’t you sit down and draw for me a lot of drawings, so I get happy, because I very much like your drawings. And as I love you very much, I love your drawings. I’m going to send you some of mine. In the end. When everything is over. Tell your mummy to record you, so you can send me the cassette, and I have much fun listening to what you say in the recording.

Girl: That day I peed myself. At school. During the language class. The teacher stood in front of my desk, and asked me the name of my father, and what he did. Just like that. I didn’t know what to say. I was speechless. And I peed myself. Right there. Immediately. I still pee myself when they ask me that question.

Father: Now it’s raining. While I write, dawn is breaking. Sometimes, when I stop writing, I look through the window. A fine and persistent rain is falling. Very cold. Full of drops that get to your bones. And the entrails. It’s been raining like that for twenty days. On that day, right at this time, the sun appeared. It was very cold. It was a day like today. But with sun. Only for fifteen minutes. People walked through the streets with black and white hats and suits. And umbrellas. Always umbrellas. Even at night. To protect themselves from the bad shadows.

Girl: That day we all had to write about our parents. And then you had to go to the front, and read it aloud. When my turn came, I couldn’t. I got very nervous, everything hurt, I started stammering, and peed myself again. Once more. Right in front of everybody. My teacher got very angry. She made me clean that huge pool of piss. Right there, while all my schoolmates looked at me. They laughed and didn’t take their eyes from me. I had to stay during the whole break, to finish cleaning. I didn’t even want to leave, for the shame of being looked by them. Those bastards. My schoolmates. When my teacher asked me to go to read aloud, I haven’t written anything. Not a single word.

Father: They charge you a toll for leaving your own house. It’s crazy, you’d think. But here it’s common. The price is standard. The poor, the rich and those in between all pay the same. A fortune for the poor. A bargain for the rich.

Girl: I don’t remember almost nothing from that moment on. It’s a brief, sudden burst of bright light in the head. A flash, and that’s it. Over. I won’t remember anything else.

Father: There’s a man in a tail coat waiting for you to get to the street to charge you the fee. The required sum. You pay, and it’s over. Done. They are always in the same mood. Neither good nor bad. I remember they went on strike once. There was a strike of the people in tail coats that charge you the toll at the doors of the houses. It was chaos. An absolute mess.

Girl: I’ve decided to search for you, after so many years. I wanted to know why you didn’t come back. What had happened with you, daddy. Why did you abandon us.

Father: The strike lasted for two weeks, and in the end everything got fixed. There were some deaths. Nothing to regret, according to the government.

Girl: I was told not to do it. That I was going to ruin my life if I went there. That I’ll never find you. That no one comes out alive from there. It’s such a horrible place. Full of bike riders. Always cycling. The only ones who dare to keep on living are ghosts, spoils, remains of people. That’s what I was told.

Father: And then: a void. Nobody told us anything about it. We saw them going back to their work. And so nobody thought in them: the men in tail coats.

Girl: I’m very strong-headed, dad. If you didn’t know, it’s time. When an idea gets inside my head, beware, get ready, it’s over. So, you see, an idea took me there…

Father: It’s very late now. I have to go, little princess. Tell everything to mum. With a wealth of detail. Don’t forget anything. Tomorrow I’ll write to you. Not tonight. Who knows when I get back from work. Probably very late. Maybe I work for twenty-four hours straight to try to forget you. Not to think so much about you.

Girl: That’s why I went in search of you. I wanted you to see me, to see who I am really. In who I have turned into. And I wanted to see you, too. Know how you look  like. I don’t remember you, daddy. I don’t remember anything about you: your eyes, your face, your moustache. I only have a picture of you mum gave me. Pretty old and rumpled. And only with that I hoped I could find you. I still do. I hope to find you, daddy.

Father: Until tomorrow, little princess. Tell mum I’m going to come back soon. Each day I get closer to you…

5.

Year Two. Early morning, raining.

Father: Girl:

As I sleep, I’m writing to you. As I write to you, I’m sleeping.

Or I think I write to you. Or I think I sleep. (To dream with you.)

Or I dream. And I dream with you.

I’ll keep on writing to you. I’ll keep on dreaming with you.

And thinking of you. And thinking of you.

And dreaming you… And missing you…

6.

Year Three. Dusk, cloudy.

Father: At work I met Willian, the only friend I have here. Yes, it may look strange, but that’s his name, Willian with an “n”. It looks like it’s not an English name, he comes from a colony close to England, where they like to distort the English language, for their hatred of the colonizers. Did you get to that part at school? At your age, have you reached that subject, or does it come later, with time? I hope you are not skipping classes. It’s not a joke. I wouldn’t forgive you… So Willian with an “n” tells me that life here is very hard. It’s a strange guy Willian. Sometimes I think it’s the linguistic difference. That’s why we don’t understand each other. That’s why we are friends. He has such a Saxon face. The hair in ringlets. Blonde as the sun. The neck long like a reed. And the shoulders firm, beautiful. Yes, why can’t I say they are beautiful? Because he is a man? If that’s what they are. His shoulders. Beautiful. I told him the other day and he told me not to be such a faggot. I thought he was going to understand. But he didn’t. He didn’t understand anything. A pity.

7.

Father: And what’s this?

Girl: T-shirt.

Father: And this?

Girl: Trousers.

Father: And what’s this?

Girl: Shirt.

Father (taking a bra from the mother and showing it to her): And this?

Girl: The panties of the tits.

8.

Year five. Early morning, foggy.

Father: How old are you, my love? After being away so long, it’s difficult to calculate.

The next time you record a message, remember to include your age: sixteen, fourteen, ten. I don’t know. The appropriate number. And a name, please. I need a name.  I want  to remember your name. Did you change it? Sometimes kids do. They change their names. They wait until they are eighteen, and change it. Because they don’t like the one

their parents gave them. I hope you haven’t changed yours. It would hurt me a lot. I  choose it specially. Even though I don’t remember it now.

9.

Year Six. Midday. Misty.

Girl: Once they called mum. From school. My teacher told my mother, very angry, that her daughter have pretended to be blind in class. Suddenly, I said I didn’t see. I pretended I couldn’t see. When she hanged up, mum came into my room and asked me if it was true that I had pretended to go blind at school. I denied it until I lost my strength. Until my mum told me: “please, honey, tell me the truth. I won’t hurt you.” Then I couldn’t deny it any more. I didn’t have the strength. I admitted what I’ve told my teacher. Mum slapped my face so strongly I still remember. It made my bones hurt. She betrayed me. Just like that. Easily, the bitch. When you came from work and you saw me like that, with the red, red cheek, you asked us what had happened. Mum lied to you, and told you it was nothing. “Aftereffects of mumps”, mummy told you. I didn’t even know what “aftereffects” meant. And least of all “mumps”.

10.

Year Four. Midday. Winter sun.

Father: Willian is an artist, or he pretends to be, because I’ve never seen anything drawn by him. He doesn’t want to show what he draws. He’s afraid I could make a ruthless criticism of it. You know me: would I be able to do something like that? Please answer me, seriously. With your heart. Truthfully. Did I act like that, with you? When? How? How did I hurt you? How did we got to be like this, to be so distant, so far away? Could I tell that to Willian?… “Willian, in this drawing the perspective is distorted, the vanishing points are going in different ways, the axis of the face is badly traced, the foreshortening is lousy, and look at the proportions, they are horrible, if you want to do a naturalistic figure, as it seems to be your purpose; and that hair is a disaster, not to mention the lines of the chest and the shoulders”. Could I do that?… Maybe. Deeply, I’m a monster. I hope I’ve never been one to you. A monster, I mean. Dad’s monster that does bad things. I wish I hadn’t done any. I couldn’t. I shouldn’t have done it. I did. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I…

Girl: Daddy, when someone tells me off I shake all inside, because my bones start crying.

11.

Year Five. Morning, incipient summer.

Father: In 1971 there was a huge wood here. Bigger than the Amazon…

Girl: Your picture became more rumpled each day, as I took it once and again from the pocket of my jacket. It was the only consolation I had at first. In the end I didn’t even need to see it. I knew perfectly your features. Those you had then, not now. I would like to see your face today. And compare it with that old picture, wrinkled and dirty: your moustaches, your brown eyes, wide-open, very big (I took on you in that. I have your same wide-open eyes, you’ll see.), a thick beard that lined your cheeks, and that pointed nose, so yours. The nose is what I like most of you, dad. I love that big nose you have. Mine, instead, is flat and ugly. I have a boxer’s nose, dad. Mom’s nose. Disgusting. I took on her, not yours. A pity…

Father: At that time there were still knights. Can you believe it? Medieval knights. With armor. With helmets. Riding on horses. They lived in that huge wood. They refused to change that way of life. They refused to abandon THAT. They refused so much that we expelled them. Nobody knows where they live now. But they live. Not here, sure. But they live. In the surroundings, in…

Girl: I fell in love with that picture, your picture. The white shirt with a huge spot of mustard. What did you ate that day to produce such a spot, dad? Or was it mum that got you dirty on purpose?

Father: An albino knight. A rusted iron armor. Very young. Very handsome. White hair, long. I met him at work. We spoke for long. I offered him a coffee. He refused so politely, that I couldn’t but feel charmed. They are so polite these knights… He offered me a brandy, that I accepted willingly. And we talked. For hours. Days without sleeping… And when you see it in print? When you see the written phrase, “Here a knight lived.” Will you believe me? I hope so. I hope you believe everything I say. Now he doesn’t live any more. He died. STOMACH CANCER. I had the privilege of knowing him.

12.

Girl (wearing a fancy dress of an old lady to perform in a school play):Daddy, do I look ridiculous?

Father: No, darling. You look beautiful.

Girl: Daddy, what does ridiculous mean?

Silence.

Sound of rain.

13.

Year Ten. Autumn afternoon, raining.

Father: Complications. They’re going to operate my belly, girl. It was time. I knew. It’s serious. Tomorrow. I had to tell you. I wanted you to know. That’s it. I’ve told you. Now I feel better. If I don’t make it I want you to know… I want you to know… To know… You already know. Know it. Please. I order you.

Girl: Good luck tomorrow, daddy. You will need it.

Father: Thanks, darling. It’s true, I need you.

14.

Year Eleven. Midnight.

Girl: Right before dying, mummy got back to teaching. She said it made her feel good. That it was the only way to forget her disease. And since she always wanted to give a good impression, she never repeated the same wardrobe at the different places she went to teach. She was so obsessive, mummy. Every day, she would write down on a piece of paper what she wore. That day. For that class. So as not to repeat the same combination of blouse, skirt or trousers on the next day. She alternated all the time. In order to change what she was wearing, she ended dressing ridiculously. She always told me that everything was decided in the first class. The first class is fundamental. It’s life or death. It’s where the rules of the game get established. Where limits are drawn. And it was right there, after a first class, that her luck got decided.

15.

Year Ten. Nap time.

Father: The surgery was successful. Marvelous. The cold grows worse. They were very tough months. Extreme. Months of extreme cold. Most of them I spent under anesthetics. Unconscious…

Girl: When I’m a man, can I have moustaches like you, daddy?

Father: I think I remember your name. It started with an “M”. Or with an “N”. Not Martha or Nathalie. I’m sure of that. I’m going to remember. Soon. Slowly, little by little, I start to remember. Once the effects of anesthesia draw off, I’m going to start remembering things now I’m not even remotely aware of. Of a letter, for instance. Your handwriting. Your beginning. I remember how I gave life to you. I gave you a name. That is a beginning….

Girl: I’ve never found daddy. I never found him, or knew anyone who could tell me

where he was. I know he is dead. He must be dead. I feel he is dead. I feel it. I wish he were dead. I’m sorry, daddy. I wish you were dead.

Father: I was very well treated at the hospital, love. You don’t have to worry. Full of bike-riders. The hospital. Madness. Imagine hundreds of wrecked bicycles in the hallways of the hospital. Twisted metals. One, two, three… Millions of bicycles. With their broken tubes. Cracked handlebars. Destroyed brakes. Pedals torn out. He who rides on a bike knows he is taking a one-way ticket. And he does it gladly. It’s almost a suicide. The bike-rider suicide.

Girl: And when I’ve grown up, will I be able to use a dummy?

Father: When I was discharged, someone took my place. My place as a stomach patient. So they could still be fifty. The sick. Here it’s like this. We proceed like this. Taking care of the numbers. And proportions. Short reckonings. Always.

Girl: You are dead. Or far away. Who knows where. Or maybe you found out I was looking for you, and choose to disappear. You’ve turned into smoke, dad. Anyway, I’m hopeful. This place is huge, and who knows, maybe some day you get out of your hiding place, and want to see me. If you do that, I warn you I’ll never forgive you.

I also warn you that if we meet, I won’t let you go. Never.

Father: Each thing belongs to you. Each thing daddy does is for you. It’s devoted to you. It’s in your honor, my little princess. Each thing daddy does, lives or dreams is a part of you. Even what hurts us, love. Specially that: what hurts more, my sun.

Girl: Oh, I forgot, something else. You were right about the bike riders. I’ve never  seen something like it. It’s wonderful.

Father: Don’t take offense, but… is it Juana? Yes, I know I told you it was with an “M” or an “N”. But suddenly I thought you were Juana. And I don’t know why. But I liked it. Well then, Juana: I love you. I tell it to you just like that. It’s so hard to tell it to you. I don’t know why. But it’s difficult. After all that has happened, I don’t know how to deal with you. I know I have to deal with you, sure. I’m forced to deal with you. Not because I’m your father. Because if I don’t, I’d die. I’d die, Juana.No, not of the heart. Nor of the stomach. I die because of…

Girl: Daddy, when I become a mother, will I be able to put on makeup, and do my nails and hair?

Father: How did I beget you… I’ll tell you. A morning, while I was going… In the afternoon we were… I mean, your mother and I… No, what am I saying, you’re too small to read this. Or not, you’re too old, and so this looks like something absolutely stupid. My reserve. Something obvious. Something you went through long ago. Is it beautiful? Everybody says so. I always doubted. But, well, I guess it’s beautiful.

It was beautiful having you. It would be beautiful to be there with you, there. Sharing with you my last moments. It would be beautiful to have you. Having you again. It would be unique. Something that can only happen once. An exception. A reward from heaven. That’s what you are to me. A present. A perfect little thing… No, I would never do it, ever. Having you. No. A mistake I’d never make again. Never.

Girl: Once, when I was five, I got up in the middle of the night, anguished, and I asked you: “Daddy, when is tomorrow? Today? Is today tomorrow?” That day you stared at me without knowing what to answer. Like many other times. About many other things.

Father: A picture of you. I’d like it very much. Oh, how I’d like it. I long for it. But I don’t have it. A picture where you were…A picture… It’s so difficult to remember you. So hard… Nothing helps. Some things I remember, anyway. Something unites us.The hair. Yes. That. The same color of the hair. Very black. Thank you. Thank you for the hair…

Girl: And when I’m a grown-up, can I use dresses too?

Father: And if I never had you? No, I don’t want. I refuse it. I don’t want you to be an invention. You can’t be an invention, Juana. Martha. Nathalie. Mariah. Mara. Why not. Because I don’t want to. So, let’s turn to something else. The important thing is… The will. When I left, with your mother we let it clear that if I… And if I… Now, if it wasn’t like that, what you have to do is… If not, you could… I expect everything is clear. If not, we repeat it. I don’t mind. As many times as it’s necessary. You’re welcome…You’re welcome, I told you… I also miss you, my love…

Girl: Is today the same day as yesterday, daddy? Sometimes it seems I’m living always in the same day, dad. Since you left. Since you left us. Once and again. Without stopping. Without pauses. Without turning back.

16.

Year Fifteen. Flood.

Father: Women?… None. Really. There aren’t many around here. Practically there aren’t any. Zero women. The ones you can find are all the same. Blonde with dark eyes. Like the Swedes. Long hair that hangs out of their hats. Crystalline smile. Limpid. White.

Girl: Each time one of mum’s boyfriends disappeared, she told us he had travelled abroad. But I knew the truth. Men didn’t stand her. They haven’t gone anywhere. They were all here. But they didn’t want to see her anymore.

Father: Black dresses. That’s what they wear. The blonde women. Long-haired women. Long, long hair… Up to the knees. With hats. All the same. The same story. The same features. The same sadness… They smile all the time. Even if it hurts inside. And they are hurt. A lot. A terrible pain. They show. “A hundred per cent smile. Zero bitterness.” That’s their motto. They have a motto women here. It’s that.

Girl: It’s been a long time I don’t know anything about Juana. She disappeared, that’s all. I know one day, when we woke up, she was not there. She left like that, abruptly, without notice. Not even a farewell letter. Not a warning. Nothing. We didn’t see her anymore. She disappeared. She vanished. Completely. Mum searched for her everywhere. She went to see all her friends. She asked everywhere she used to be. But it was useless. We never knew anything about her. And now that mum isn’t with me, I’m not interested in knowing anything about Juana. And you won’t remember her either. Never.

Father: Snow, snow, snow. Black, black, black. Black over the snow. A way of getting noticed. To say I’m here. “The women here say we’re present. How? Black dresses over the snow. Today and always.”

Girl: Once I suggested Juana to bury you, daddy. But she said no. Because you were the only father we had. And we could never have another one, however we tried.

17.

After some months…

Father: My feet are frozen. I feel them as ice cubes. So hard I don’t think I’ll be able to get up or walk. That’s how the flu starts. One day you’re writing, with the soles numb. And the next day you go down with the flu. And on the next day, you die. And on the next, you get buried. Or you recover, miraculously. Just when they are burying you. In the middle of the burial, you raise. And you scare them out of themselves. A fright they won’t ever forget. A great fright. How nice it would be to scare them. Scare you. How nice…

Girl: Loving you. Desiring you. Desiring your presence…

Father: I’m going to be honest, love. I think I lost my way many years ago. Already when I was there, with you, I felt bad. I was very unhappy while we lived together.

Now, that you’ve grown, I can tell you.

Girl: …Wanting you silently. Crying for you all those years…

Father: I live almost like a stone. Without moving. Don’t get sad. Imagine I’ve never written to you. Let’s go on as if nothing had happened. Please, love, let’s go on with our fiction.

Girl: …Crying of pain for not finding you close to me. For not having you…

Father: Did you ever had curls? I remember you with curls. You were two years old, you played with toy cars, and you had a lot of curls. Dark curls. Like me. A very dark black. I played with you, and your toy cars too…

Girl: …For not being in your arms. For not being able to share with you all the time your pain…

Father: At three, you knew how to write your name. At four, you laughed a lot. At five, you wept without reason. I think you didn’t like kindergarten. You were privileged. You didn’t go to nursery school. For a year you didn’t do anything. You went directly to kindergarten, without going to nursery school. It was the best time of your life. That sabbatical year.

Girl:…For not being able to see how you are dying… Because you are far away. You are very far away, dad…

Father: While I went to work, you slept every morning like a little angel. While I cried, you lived. You lived the life I could not live. How much I envied you. When the other boys started suffering the horrors of school, you slept like an angel, free… The four years. The best four years. Far away from kindergarten. Such a nice time. Who could have that.

Girl: …Very distant and very sick. In the throes of death…

Father: At six you… At six… No. Not anymore. I don’t appear. There is a blank. A huge hole. I’m not. I’ve vanished. I’m there, somewhere. Remote. Gone. Sick. With a not-all-there face. With the appearance of having gone. I left. When you were six, I left home: I stood up, gave each of you a kiss, and I said “goodbye”. I did like this with the hand,

I went through the door, and it was over. I never saw you again. I don’t even remember you now. I can’t. It’s so difficult to remember anything. Everything gets swiped away.

A flash and it’s over. A flash in the head, and then everything vanishes. Over. The end. That’s how easy it was to forget you…

Girl: …Practically dead…

Father: …I get lost… Memories get blurred in my brain: the streets… the days… the nights… the sky… My house… They leave. It’s gone. Vanished. Flown away.I remember you… I don’t remember you… More… I don’t remember you anymore… I don’t remember you anymore…

Girl: …Far away from me…

18.

Girl: Daddy.

Father: What, love.

Girl: What do death exist for?

Father: I don’t know, love.

Girl: And are we all going to die, daddy?

Father: Yes, precious.

Girl:Then why are we born, dad?

Silence.

19.

Year Twenty-five. Dawn, slow and cold, over the roofs.

Father: On a spring day, when my girl was very small, I gave her three plants with flowers as a present. The plants grew strong and healthy. My little one watered them every day. She was very happy with her little plants.

Pause.

Father: On another day a strong wind tore off the flowers of the three plants. They were left in a poor state, the plants. My girl was very sad. Each time she went to see how the plants were, she remained alone, with a flower in her hand, unconsoled, crying.

Pause.

Father: The only time my little daughter loved me… A pity.

Silence.

Sound of rain.

20.

Epilogue.

The mother is about to read her daughter a letter her father wrote. The father is “There” (in an unknown and strange foreign country). The mother and the girl are “Here” (in a well-known and familiar nearby country).

Mother: Do you want me to read the letter daddy wrote to you, my love, or do you want to have dinner first?

Girl: No, mummy. Read the letter for me now, please. I want to know what daddy says.

Is he going to bring me many presents? When is he coming back?

Mother: He talks just about that. Pay attention, love:

My Dear, 

I’m here, in a very big city, with lots of little lights and many bike riders going  all day long in all directions. There are many broken bicycles left around everywhere, and huge stone buildings.

I always think of you, my adored little bug. I miss you a lot. 

I’m looking for toys in the shops here, to buy you some nice toys for you, so that we can have fun when I come back, my little princess.

When dad returns in a plane, you’re going to wait for me and tell me: “hi,  daddy”… and you’re going to do like this with your little hand.

These days it’s been cold and it rained many times. It’s a very nice country. But very strange. And very, very cold.

Well, love: I send you a big, big hug, and many little and big kisses. Do what your mommy says, and don’t make her nervous. 

It’s almost sure that I’m going to get back soon, love. Very soon, my sun. 

I love you with all my soul, 

DADDY

THE END

Translated by Leonel Livchits

Buenos Aires en 100 palabras (40)

noviembre 10, 2019

Lee “El Castillo” en la avenida de una ciudad que atraviesa los oscuros callejones de una convertibilidad instalada por ley. Sus noches transcurren entre bares y librerías. En una de ellas compra la novela del Checo Loco, amante de las burlas burocráticas. Cada baldosa de las veredas que patea es un derecho a efectuar en el presente los posibles que no llegaron a realizarse en el pasado. Un retorno hacia ese tiempo terminado. Hacia la Europa del este de principios de siglo. Hacia aquella ciudad de los años noventa, perdida en una bruma nocturna, en medio de una deriva interminable.

Buenos Aires en 100 palabras (39)

noviembre 3, 2019

¿Qué es una imagen? Me pregunto, en esta época de carteles publicitarios en las paradas del Metrobus. Una imagen es lo que irrumpe en mis noches de insomnio. Es invención. Es parte de la imaginación pública y privada. Es un resto de escritura. Una grafía sin tiempo ni espacio. Unas lágrimas sin recuerdo. Una imagen es también su negación, su ausencia. Nada de redes sociales aquí: ninguna imagen que difundir ni compartir, virtual y/o realmente. El flyer, el evento y la story son, en este sentido, anti-imágenes.

MIGRATIONS (An essay play)

noviembre 2, 2019

by Maximiliano de la Puente

All that is sacred in human beings is the non-personal that is within them. Everything that is impersonal in human beings is sacred, and nothing else.”

Simone Weil

Beginning

NARRATOR: We find ourselves in a kind of abandoned hospital, one that, a long time ago, was used as a hotel for immigrants and refugee camp. It is a huge and empty space. The walls, covered by big stains of mould and damp patches, are almost completely cracked, making it impossible to know which were the original colours they were painted with. If they had ever, at some time, were painted. At first sight, we notice that the place has two levels: a kind of floor and first floor, where we see a series of corridors and big curved openings, similar to the boxes of the old opera houses, from which light beams emanate, lighting certain areas but leaving others hidden, leaving a great part of the place in the dark. The floor, which originally was wooden, shows marked uneven levels. The great majority of the wooden blocks are sunk. Others are broken by halves. The remaining worm-eaten pieces of wood, in a state of putrefaction, are located everywhere. We are at night, it is very late. We don’t see anyone, but we can hear the dripping sounds of water running through the pipes, the wood of the floor creaking, swollen by the humidity of the foundations, and some small animals, specially rodents and cockroaches, going from one place to the other.

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Buenos Aires en 100 palabras (38)

noviembre 2, 2019

Hay un momento que es como un relámpago en un instante de peligro: es el momento insurreccional. O revolucionario. O de desobediencia civil. Llamalo como quieras. Es un rato nomás, te decís. Inmediatamente después vuelve la normalidad, el agachar la cabeza. Llevás a flor de piel la docilidad en tu cuerpo, en tu lenguaje, en tu rostro. Estás tan entusiasmado que me dio pena y vergüenza decirte que no va a durar. Ya vendrán los forros de siempre a encauzarlo todo. Entonces te dije: disfrutá este gesto performático ahora. Justo un instante antes de que se institucionalice para siempre.

Buenos Aires en 100 palabras (37)

noviembre 1, 2019

¿Qué es una imagen? Se pregunta, en esta época de afiches políticos en las esquinas. No es una gramática. No es un conjunto de planos, encuadres o secuencias. Una imagen no es el producto de un montaje. Una imagen es el resultado de recortes de afecto: imágenes afecciones, a veces dolientes. En otras, gozosas. Una imagen es un fragmento de memoria almacenado al azar, en la deriva de los pensamientos. Es sensorialidad que lo asalta en cualquier momento y que no lo suelta más. Es también el pasaje entre generaciones. Es el mito que pervive de lo que le aconteció.

Buenos Aires en 100 palabras (36)

octubre 26, 2019

Un domingo de invierno te levantás muy tarde, después de una intensa noche de sábado. Descubrís que se cortó la luz en tu casa. Mensajeás a uno de tus mejores amigos. Esperás una respuesta que nunca llega. En ese momento empezás a preocuparte. Al activar los datos de tu teléfono, comprendés que es el país entero el que está sin luz. El que literalmente se ha apagado. Corrés desesperado buscando la llave de la térmica, que se encuentra fuera, en la calle. La apagás bajo la lluvia gélida y torrencial. Un segundo antes de que todo regrese a la normalidad.

Buenos Aires en 100 palabras (35)

octubre 25, 2019

El gobierno decide aumentar el costo del transporte público. Casi simultáneamente empieza la manifestación. La acción de desobediencia civil. Personas de todas las edades y condiciones socioeconómicas deciden dejar de pagar. Saltan colectivamente molinetes, suben masivamente haciendo caso omiso a las máquinas de pago electrónicas. Las instituciones colapsan. Todo se desmorona. El reclamo por el boleto del transporte público se convierte en una revolución imparable por las miserables condiciones de vida. El presidente decide que el ejército cope la parada, tome las calles, desbarate la revuelta. Justo un segundo antes de que una bomba molotov le estalle en la cara.

Buenos Aires en 100 palabras (34)

octubre 24, 2019

Un mediodía lluvioso decide ir a “Las mil y una noches”. Shawarma, arroz persa, babaganush, keppe, tabule. Las delicias de Medio Oriente a un paso de la (ex) avenida que nunca duerme. Hoy arrasada tras crisis y devaluaciones varias. Una familia de egipcios maneja el lugar. Los principales clientes: los trabajadores de la zona. Hace un alto y descansa de una jornada que promete ser agotadora. Piensa en todas las otras veces en que estuvo ahí. Rememora. Revive esos instantes en su piel. Siente escalofríos: alguna vez quiso ir allí con su mamá.