Ik kijk van bovenaf op de vage vormen van een menselijke figuur, Odilon Redon, 1896

I died six months after turning ninety years previous. Of meningoencephalitis. In a Army Hospital near the previous quarter, one kilometer from the Zoo and the On line casino Campestre park. I left behind a spouse, three youngsters, 5 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. In a while, extra great-grandchildren might be born, my spouse will die, my youngsters will develop previous. Every part at its personal tempo. In pure and chronological order. 


Everybody thought it was a chilly, with all of the fevers and shaking, but it surely was meningo. They noticed my wracking shivers they usually have been scared, however that’s the best way colds all the time are. The physique shuts down, the pinnacle aches, the temperature rises, the jaw and palms begin to shake. 


Since I’m lifeless I don’t really feel a factor; freed from sensation, I benefit from the present. My spouse, an aged lady not 5 ft tall, is sitting on the desk when my daughter comes to offer her the information that I’ve handed on. My favourite granddaughters, those my spouse and I raised, are laughing within the spare room. It’s nervous laughter. Laughter meaning I can’t consider it. The canine know I’m right here, sitting in the identical place as all the time. 


After I die they cowl me with a sheet. They take me to the morgue, lower me open. They take a noticed to my head. They shut me up in the identical locations they opened me. They shake me. My daughter arrives to repair me up. She cries whereas she attire me. She combs my hair like I’m a baby. She buttons my shirt. Zips up my pants. Adjusts my belt. She lays her head on my chest. I’m her father. 


My daughter realizes they left my pacemaker in. She desires to name them again, but it surely’s solely an impulse, none of them are about to open me as much as take away the little metallic object. The pacemaker will go on working till it rusts out underground. The opposite lifeless individuals, those round me, gained’t be capable of sleep in peace. I gained’t be capable of sleep both. I’m not sleepy. Or afraid. 


The opposite lifeless individuals, in comparison with me, don’t deserve mourning or a wake; that’s what my household and mates assume once they arrive and snoop round the remainder of the funeral dwelling. They peer in and showcase, they’re shameless. 


Two years later, when the cemetery supervisors and my members of the family—which might be solely my daughter, as all the time—dig up my stays and put my ashes in a small field they will pay their respects to at any time when they go to the cemetery, the pacemaker might be intact. It’ll even shine, like a thought, clear and lucid. 


My daughter arrives dwelling together with her mouth contorted. Her eyes purple and watery. Everybody realizes I've died. Besides my spouse, a naive lady. For some time now she’s wanted every little thing to be defined at size. In order that they clarify to her that I'm a really sturdy man, however meningoencephalitis is stronger than me. She understands. She guarantees to not make a scene. To not cry. She remembers me, her husband. Her companion for over seventy years. 


I used to be born on January twenty-fifth, nineteen nineteen, in a rural space removed from sea and metropolis. I labored within the fields, below the rain, from the time I turned six years previous. At that age I began to smoke—black tobacco—so I wouldn’t faint on the highway. 


In nineteen thirty-six, when the warfare broke out, I began to struggle for the Republic alongside of a bunch of compañeros of an origin totally different from those that didn’t struggle. My origin. Collaborating in protests and gathering reduction funds. My mother and father, of the identical humble origin, simply stored quiet. 


I discovered {that a} man is a rustic. I discovered {that a} nation is a system. I discovered {that a} system is a monster. I discovered {that a} monster is a God. I discovered that God doesn’t exist. I discovered that God does exist. I discovered that I don’t exist. I discovered that I do exist. I discovered {that a} man can not depart, as a result of that is his home, that is his mom, and that is his father. 


In nineteen forty-six and in nineteen forty-seven I used to be pursued and imprisoned by the forces of the Regime of the Second on account of my lively participation in defensive, rebellious actions. I received to know the smells of jail, absolute darkness, the solar. I urinated and defecated on myself. Prisons like El Príncipe, El Presidio Modelo, and Francisquito all noticed me enter and depart, via a slim door, remodeled into a person. 


After I received out of jail I went on with the identical issues. The scars below my pores and skin then have been important, engaging. The Army Socialist Get together and all issues prefer it turned my dwelling, my area. Throughout that point and after nineteen fifty-two, I organized secret, clandestine conferences below my very own roof, and I needed to take measures to maintain us from being found. None of this would have been potential with out my spouse, my love. She went out to get meals and ready it, she distributed the plates, kissed and hugged me from a spot excessive up, unknown. Her kiss was bread and water. 


When the assault on the nation’s most necessary barracks occurred, the Get together directed me to enter a Spiritual Order, to get entry to the printing press the place they made flyers and different sorts of propaganda that I then distributed. I didn’t consider in God, and the members of the Order noticed in my eyes the eyes of a kind of ferocious beast. 


That’s what I'm and that’s what my sons and my daughter are, and that’s what my sons’ sons and my daughter’s daughters are: kind of ferocious beasts. 


* * *


We made charcoal in our home, my spouse and I, collectively. We lived off the timber and off of love. Within the title of these timber I introduced fireplace to different homes, meals. I collected cash, garments, and arms. Beneath the charcoal, on my cart, I transported and delivered the wares. My spouse went with me many instances on my rounds within the metropolis and to different close by locations. And he or she herself left weapons, there, the place nobody would know. 


As Council President, with assist from my spouse and those that elected me, I constructed a Faculty that's nonetheless our neighborhood’s college right now. The schoolyard doesn’t have flowers—it should be the warmth, or the earth, but it surely used to have them. 


In nineteen seventy, after the Triumph, I directed the province’s charcoal co-ops, taking half within the supervision and group of the opposite employees. I noticed the foundations, the sunshine, the universe. 


I by no means accepted provides to stay in confiscated homes. I constructed my own residence with picket beams and planks. Two rooms and a door have been sufficient. My youngsters needed extra however I didn’t give them extra. My youngsters’s youngsters needed extra however I didn’t give them extra. My daughter’s daughters, once they have been born, would have preferred extra. I gave them what was mandatory. My spouse stored quiet, lowered her eyes, gave me her hand. The bones of her hand between the bones of mine. 


I went on founding, directing, lending a hand. Each man is the continuation of one other man, simply as each motion is the continuation of one other motion. That’s what I did and would nonetheless be doing, if the meningo hadn’t dragged me off ft first, if it hadn’t introduced me right here. 


* * *


Meningoencephalitis is an sickness that concurrently recollects each types of meningitis. It happens via an an infection or irritation of the meninges, and thru an an infection or irritation of the mind. There are various organisms that trigger it, each viral and bacterial pathogens, and there are parasitic, treacherous microbes. The sickness has excessive mortality charges and extreme morbidity. The physique shuts down, the pinnacle aches, the temperature rises, the jaw and palms begin to shake. 


For me, who suffered and endured this sickness, it has loads in frequent with revolution. The human physique is the system towards which the revolution fights, clandestinely at first after which in a extra organized, seen, and public method, in the long run laying waste to it. The physique shuts down, the pinnacle aches, the temperature rises, the jaw and palms begin to shake. 


The cemetery is the ultimate place that the physique, revolutionary and chilly, will occupy. There are dry flowers in every single place, and the physique senses that. The sensations proceed a short while after the corporal break {that a} demise entails. The revolution that has reached its apogee within the physique stays alive for some days, and that’s why the physique disintegrates—as a result of a really rebellious factor is writhing inside because it tries to maneuver on to a different part. 


This different part is nullity. Attempting to conquer the revolution is categorically forbidden; nonetheless, as quickly because the physique realizes it exists, that’s precisely what it does. Its stamp, its actuality, has no precedent within the physique. From there comes the definitive occasion that establishes a base within the physique for colonization and radicalization. The household doesn't exist. It’s simply you, both for it or towards it. You be part of otherwise you resist, Resistance that in the long term grants it a measure of power. 


* * *


The funeral dwelling—an previous, huge home, beforehand the property of some bourgeois household—has been not too long ago painted. It boasts a rest room and a restaurant, however each have deteriorated to the purpose the place they will not carry out their features. I—a physique that can also be previous—am resting in one of many chapels. Different cadavers spherical out the category. They're of various sorts, sexes, and ages. My cadaver is definitely the least younger of all of them. 


There are few individuals through the evening. When morning comes they begin arriving, in teams or in households. All of them preserve vigil over their lifeless. They're all the identical. 


My chapel has the most individuals. Even in such a solemn second as this one, individuals really feel satisfaction. My household is proud. You may see it of their eyes, in the best way they maintain vigil over me and sit down to attend by my facet, subsequent to the coffin. Youngsters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins. All of them have a useless air, a self-important perspective, bless them. 


Somebody is lacking and it’s my spouse. The one particular person I wouldn’t have needed to overlook it, at my facet all the time. She will’t stand up from her rocker. Nor will she be capable of. After just a few days or weeks have handed, almost certainly she’ll fracture a hip going out to get lunch. These items occur, particularly throughout mourning, in disappointment. 


I do know there are flowers, shields and flags. There are medals on my casket. Six of them. Honors that I deserved, that I stored secure. Now my daughter will preserve them after which my granddaughter, the one who doesn’t consider in what I consider in. The one who laughs at me. The one who cries essentially the most. The one who gained’t be dragged away from the coffin. There are three, actually. 


The nationwide flag hides the coffin’s nails from view. My daughter unfold it over the casket, lengthwise and facet to facet. I’ve by no means seen a flag like that. I bristle. The nails are tiny little factors which you could see anyway. The casket, made from dangerous wooden, is lined with black material. The material is tacked with lace, but it surely has no class. That’s what bothers the cadaver’s household. 


My daughter didn’t need too many flowers as a result of there was just one form: ugly, purple and blue flowers. Ones that fill the house with an nearly insufferable cemetery odor. It smells of cemetery anyway. My sons go distant seeking flowers. They need flowers at any price. However the flowers don’t matter in any respect. Solely the flag is necessary. And the medals. And the household. They discover lilies. My daughter contents herself with lilies. 


One of many little ladies by no means stops me. She friends via the coffin’s glass and thinks she sees two ants in my hair. The ants run about as if my hair have been grass. My daughter calls to her and she or he doesn’t go. Of all these current, she would be the just one to inform the story. She was born for that. To inform the story. It’s potential, even, that she’ll spend her complete life telling tales that aren’t hers. 


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Excerpted from My Favourite Girlfriend Was A French Bulldog by Legna Rodríguez Iglesias, translated by Megan McDowell, and printed by McSweeney’s.