Special Envoy to a country named Gabriel García Márquez

He was wearing one of those checkered jackets that he was wearing Scare cameras, because those skipped razors that graced the canvas would look killer in photos later, so he could rest assured: On the plane that was taking him to Stockholm that night, they wouldn’t be taking pictures of him, much less at full length. So he was, drowsy, reading a little newspaper, for he could hold it in one hand, beside his wife, who was looking fiercely, but warily, at the journalist who was approaching with his hand open to greet the man who was going. To visit in a few days Nobel Prize for Literature. It was one of the youngest awards (55 years) on which His Majesty the King relied Carlos Gustavo When he gave him a certificate that his work above all a hundred years of isolation It has been accepted and awarded by the most demanding literary jury in the world.

It was this journalist who approached him with an open hand who now signs this commemorative chronicle, which the newspaper transmitted as a special envoy to Stockholm. Country, with which he has collaborated for years The most important writer in the Spanish language then and forever, at least in the 20th century and even now in the 21st century. Wearing the same spotted jacket, he would later come to the newspaper, to find out from his managers what he should do to create a newspaper himself. will be called One, And he, who was a fan of playing fair with words, began imitating himself as a potential buyer of his own newspaper, making him go to a kiosk saying, “This gives me One, please & rdquo; He said it would be the first time a newspaper had been called out as a number.

With this memory, then, the journalist extended his hand. The nerves that preceded that handshake played a trick, because as the setback happened to me with his colleague, a former friend and at that time irreconcilable beings, Mario Vargas Llosaor even with his distant Cuban colleague Guillermo Cabrera InfanteHe changed everyone’s name at the most inopportune moment. He smiled when, as they raised his hands, I said to him: “How are you, Guillermo?” He was alone, with Mercedeshis wife from a young age, who gave him patience so that he could write, in extreme poverty, his masterpiece, and the two made the same journey to find themselves in the Swedish capital with an army of Colombian voices and faces and walks that they were going to turn Stockholm into the most colorful and cheerful concert in the history of Colombian literature.

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García Márquez receiving the award from King Carlos Gustav of Sweden. / file, archive

He will, with Mercedes, participate in that party, of course, although if you see him closely, whether you engage with him or not, he will suddenly not look like a party-goer from Cartagena de Indias or Barranquilla, but rather The boy who, even as an old man, cared more about his own fears than about being incited to screams and dances.. At that moment, sitting sideways, newspaper in hand, giving the other to the journalist who had greeted him under an erroneous name, was a man traveling alone, more occupied with what he thought than the circumstances which the journey would require. that he would end up crowned with the greatest literary award in the world.

A round of applause greeted the North American president, though Gabo himself remained as passive as the passing Colombian’s gaze.

Years passed and I saw that face again many times. Just a man, for example, when he entered the president Bill Clintonin 2005, to join the A tribute to the representatives of the Spanish Language Academies in Cartagena. He listened to speeches in his honor, and kept silent as if nothing had begun, or as if nothing was happening. The people speaking commented whatever they were talking about, and a round of applause greeted the American president, though Gabo himself kept his hands as motionless as the glances of a passing Colombian.

Then Gabriel García Márquez is back again chatas a child Aracataca He who listened to his grandfather tell stories absent from the world, as at that moment when everyone praised a person like him who was sitting and it was he, though he seemed absent on his way nearer to his homeland than others. An important man in the room, where he was and what he was at the same time, because oblivion made its way with its inexorable light.

He had ways of overcoming another’s strangeness when he could not remember proper names, for he himself would say things he had learned to mislead whoever met him and who was his friend from another time and who by lack of memory has now turned him into the unknown. He had a way of watering it all down to a solid, wholesome salutation, the same for everyone, “How do you say you do” and he left.

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In the case of the mass salutation of Clinton, he joined in last, for he must have seen that this also went with him. That afternoon I left the convention and the festivities and went to Aracataca, where Gabo was born, and entered the dusty space of his first house, and saw in a corner near the yard with the great trees the imprint of his cradle like that of a telegrapher’s son, and on my way out I found another sphere of magic from which his writings came. He was at the door of the old house, sprawled on a chair like the one Kennedy used to swing, Nelson nights, who was his friend and lived the memory of the first years together through those dry sewers. I’ve just been with Gabo in Cartagena, I tell Nelson, asking him when was the last time he saw his friend: “Gabo was here last night, playing chess.”

That nature, which is also nature a hundred years of isolation To make lies or dreams come true, is what Gabriel García Márquez wrote, in His grief as a boy never finished growingHis body, his mustache, whose gaze seemed to search, even in the most solemn moments of his life, for a trace of whence he came.

Those days in Stockholm were about three days jabus, A family member, the person from the neighborhood, the journalist, the escort of the writer who finally went up to the stage that was going to crown him with a prize welcomed all over the world as if it were for all Spanish-speaking writers (so said his friend Carlos Fuentes), when in fact it was for A boy from Aracataca grew up trying to capture the past with storiesamong which the main one was the largest a hundred years of isolation.

Many years later, that Jabo went with the spotted jackets BarcelonaTo visit her other Catalan mother with Mercedes, Carmen Balcells. Those symptoms of 2005, when he saw and didn’t see Bill Clinton, had already filtered through his memory, and he avoided speaking, asking questions in a barranquillero accent (“come here, you who know, tell me & mldr; & rdquor;), so He formed balls of anything from leftover bread, and I kept going to activities (eg Guadalajara International Book Fair) and, at Mercedes’ request, at her request, he also went to parties in Cartagena de Indias. One of those nights he sat next to him Almudena Grandis; While the musicians were dispersing in the canteen, an author asked Malena is the name for Tango: “Come here, are they already singing? & rdquor;

At that time, January 2010, his friend had just passed away Thomas Eloy Martinez. We were searching Gabo and Mercedes’ house for a way to locate the son of the great writer, everyone’s friend, and Gabriel García Márquez arrived, offering to help with anything. Mercedes told him to order ice on the phone with huge numbers that were in the room. “I really did the job,” he later told his wife. Turning to me, he asked with whom we are talking ruefully. Of your friend Tomás Eloy Martínez ”. He thought for a while and finally said something out loud that he had also said other times in similar circumstances: “He was better than all of us.

In every line I write I always try, with more or less success, to evoke the elusive spirits of poetry,” he said in his Stockholm speech.

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At that party in Stockholm, forty years ago, liqui liqui dress, Crowned as the best writer in the world, he said to finish a letter that history has preserved like gold on a rag: “In every line I write I always try, with more or less success, to Evocation of the elusive spirits of poetryand I try to leave in every word a testimony of devotion to its virtues divination, and its permanent victory over the powers of deaf death.

I imagine him in Barcelona, ​​making a word out of bread, his thick hands whipped by the obstinate presence of a time that, one day, will also be called death.

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