V. Comillas y un exclave cántabro en Vizcaya

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The ‘Time passed away’ carol

villancicosWhen passing by the function room at the Orthodox Institute, the man hears a choir of child-like voices, and –curious– peeps through the laces of the glass doors. He sees a group of children rehearsing Christmas carols, conducted by a young teacher. Not that young, actually, but for the last few years almost everyone seems young to him, and this -he says to himself- can only mean one thing…

Ditching with a shrug such untimely trend of thought, he quietly opens the door and steals into the large room, takes a seat on one of the rear chairs and, unnoticed, listens to the rehearsal. The atmosphere is warm, absorbing, snug like a womb must be. Outdoors, behind the windows, some feeble snowflakes fall softly against the dark background, putting on the night a white Christmas touch.

After a few carols have been sung, and when the pure and innocent mouths of the children (they are indeed young!) intone the melancholy notes of Silent Night, two lonely tears roll down the man’s cheeks. But it’s not this carol’s particular sadness, by itself, what made those tears well up, Continue »

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Tres ermitas

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The wrestler

wrestler1If one decade ago I had been told, in light of Sin City and other films of the sort, that I’d ever be moved by Mickey Rourke on the screen, I would’ve not believed it. But welcome be the news: at this age (his, but also mine) it’s comforting to see that the autumn of life can still be very productive — when not terrific.


But it’s not always like that, of course; and such is the case of the main character of The wrestler, Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, a decaying professional pushing sixty who, in the twilight of his career goes over the rings of the State performing in third class fights. When the many blows he’s taken along perhaps too many years in such job start passing him a serious bill, he tries to put some order in his life — only to find that it’s not so easy to make do for all his past mistakes. Continue »

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IV. De Burgos a Santander, entre montañas y canciones serranas

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El ciudadano ilustre. Un boludo cargado de razón.

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I don’t love you anymore

Of all the memorable movie scenes, this is one of my very favourites: so straightforward, so descriptive, so harsh and life-like, so telling of women’s feelings…

It belongs to the film Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004. Very recommended). Dan and Alice have been arguing, and he leaves her hotel room in anger; but when he’s about to catch the elevator, he suddenly regrets and comes back to the room; back to Alice. But… unfortunately it’s too late. Wretched Dan! It’s simply too late:

— I don’t love you any more –she tells him, her eyes full of sadness, but determined, resolved, firm.
— Since when? –he asks. He is still unexperienced and has not gone through this before; so he doesn’t quite understand the full scope of her statement.
— Since now. It’s over. You can go.

Just like that. And Alice is completely serious. She means it. Oh, yes!, she does. In the lapse of a single minute she has gone from love to not-love. And there’s nothing, absolutely nothing he can do or say, make a fool of himself, now or later, for his years to come, to make her change back her mind. Thus young Dan learns tonight this little feature about women’s hearts, getting a wound that will never fully heal; while Alice, sweet Alice, will carry on her own way not ever thinking of Dan again; smiling; without looking back a single time…

Such is life, and such are women, indeed; for, what man in his thirties -leave aside his forties- has not gone through some I don’t love you any more or other? There are way too many Alices out there ready to perform on us this funny trick, and their passionate loves of a while ago, Continue »

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The visit

In my dream, I was watching a boy who, sitting on a stool at the kitchen table, silently and obediently nodded to every of this mother’s warnings, perhaps scolding or simply instructing him. He is a handsome boy of big dark eyes on a pale face and lank brown hair. Carefully he listens to his mother and, after each of her sentences, nods as a sign of understanding.

I witness the scene from very close, but — both knowing I am there, none of them seems to notice me, attentive to each other as they are; though in the bottom of his stare the boy has as if an absent air, like that of one who lives on two worlds at once: the inner and the outer. I gaze at him with a mixture of sympathy and infinte tenderness, and as lovingly as I’m able to: his childlike countenance, so familiar and so alien at the same time, and his deep, clever eyes that seem home to misterious thoughts, though perhaps they just reflect a most candid innocence.

I was feeling a great love for him and, mostly, an enormous pity: pity because all the sufferings he would have to undergone in life, pity that his tender and pure soul would age too early. Then, I came close to him and, taking his head between my hands, put my lips to his cheek and kissed him warmly, with the emotion of that who’s saying farewell forever — kissed him like my aunts in the village did when, by the end of every summer, we returned to the city. And the boy, still attentively listening to his mother’s words, received my kiss without a stare, neither of affection nor aloofness; not indifferently, but simply as if… as if he had not been kissed at all.

That boy — whom I was visiting thanks to the magic of dreams, that boy was myself.

And when I woke up, and the spell was gone, for a while I kept asking to myself, trying to remember: did I ever feel, as a child, the warmth on my cheek of a ghostly kiss?, did I ever shiver, being a boy, with the close breath of an invisible presence?, did I ever get the impression that someone was visiting me from beyond time?

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