The news of the Nobel Prize for Gabito reached my family in an almost surreal way. A call came from New York at the house of my daughter Patricia Cepeda, who then lived in Portland, Maine, USA, in the early hours of that day in October 1982. The Salvadoran nanny answered, who transmitted the news as follows: Mrs. Patricia, Mrs. his mom won the lottery!
After a few minutes of anxious questions and answers, Patricia returned the call from New York and learned the real news that our compadre Gabito had won the most important Prize in Universal Literature. From that moment on, everything seemed to work in a cloud of disbelief with the call from Mercedes saying that Gabito wanted us to accompany him to Stockholm, that Germán (Vargas) and Alfonso (Fuenmayor) already knew, that I get in touch with them. .
The plane that touched us was full, more than 150 people had joined the walk in their own way, to accompany Gabriel García Márquez to receive his Nobel Prize.
What follows is history, the call in the gold room and mythological figures of the academy and Gabito’s speech. The loneliness of Latin America, Totó La Momposina shocking the European audience in the Palace of the Kings of Sweden with that harrowing voice, something magical happened here, there are 1,300 attendees, I feel a paralyzing silence, a mixture of astonishment and fear of hear Toto sing “Loneliness”. African Asians, European Australians and Latin Americans receive the despair of that lament as if we suddenly understood that the loneliness of Latin America is the loneliness of the universe.
Many years later disturbing news appears in the press about the sacrosanct Swedish Academy. That doesn’t surprise me at all, because something unusual happened to me in Stockholm. He was part of the five special guests to which the Nobel Prize winner is entitled. Fuenmayor and Adela, German and Susana, Álvaro and Tita. Álvaro was no longer with us, but Gabito wanted me to attend on behalf of his friend and his physical and literary life partner.
Everyone got their invitations except me. I give way to Eligio García Márquez who wrote in his column of the Viewer (Oct.1982) “The Colombian Embassy could not give a sufficient explanation, beginning with Gabriel García Márquez himself, who, enraged, threatened not to attend the ceremonies if 2 did not appear.” Terrified as I watched the reactions it had provoked, I realized that Gabito was perfectly informed of what was happening with the missing invitations. There was a black market in Stockholm for invitations to award ceremonies. A complete elegant station, with the presence of King Gustaf Adolf and the royal family, for wealthy Swedes and foreigners. The mechanics worked between the Academy and the awarded Embassies that distributed the invitations that they supposed would not cause problems.
But they did not count on my coastal friend Gabito who opposed all the manipulations and managed to impose his decision on both the Academy and the Colombian Embassy of the time. Today, when the whole country celebrates the forty years of the Nobel Prize, I like to tell about it, as an example of Nobel solidarity and because it became one of the great memories I have of Gabriel García Márquez.
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A witness in Stockholm 40 years ago