Special envoy to a country called Gabriel García Márquez

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When four decades have passed since the award granted to him by the Swedish Academy, and this year’s awards are about to be handed out, we remember how the Colombian writer became probably the best Spanish-language author of recent times.

He was wearing one of those mottled jackets he used to scare the cameras, because those skipped shavings that adorned the fabric would later look fatal in the photographs, so he could rest assured: on the plane that was taking him to Stockholm that night they would not take portraits of him, let alone full-length. So he was, sleepy, reading a small newspaper, because he could hold it in one hand, next to his wife, who was looking viciously, but cautiously, at the journalist who was approaching with an open hand to greet the man who was going to visit a few days later. receive the reward Nobel for Literature. He was one of the youngest prizes (55 years old) to recline before his majesty Carlos Gustavo when he gave him the certification that his work, and above all one hundred years of solitude it had been accepted and awarded by the most demanding literary jury in the world.

That journalist who approached him with an open hand was the one who now signs this commemorative chronicle, which had been shipped as a special envoy to Stockholm by the newspaper The country, in which he had collaborated for years the most important writer in the Spanish language at that time and forever, at least in the 20th century and so far in the 21st century. Wearing that same mottled jacket, he would later come to the newspaper, to find out from his managers about what had to be done to set up a newspaper himself. Would be called One, and he, who was a lover of playing fair with words, began to imitate himself as a possible buyer of his own newspaper, making him go to a kiosk saying “it gives me One, please” It would be, she said, the first time that a newspaper was called as a number.

With that memory, then, the journalist extended his hand. The nerves that preceded that handshake played a trick on me, as the setback happened to me with his colleague, formerly a friend and at that time irreconcilable beings, Mario Vargas Llosa, or with his even more distant Cuban colleague Guillermo Cabrera InfanteHe changed everyone’s name at the most inopportune moment. He smiled when, as they both advanced their hands, I said to him: “How are you, Guillermo? & rdquor; He was alone, with Mercedeshis wife since they were young, the one who gave him patience so that he could write, in full 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 gaits that They were going to turn Stockholm into the biggest and most joyful colorful and musical party in the history of Colombian literature.

Special envoy to a country called Gabriel Garcia Marquez

He would participate, with Mercedes, in that party, of course, although if you saw him closely, whether you treated him or not, he never suddenly seemed like a partygoer from Cartagena de Indias or Barranquilla, but rather a boy who, even as an old man, paid more attention to his own worries than to the incitements to revelry and dancing. At that moment, sitting sideways, with the newspaper in his hand, giving the other to the journalist who greeted him with the wrong name, he was a man traveling alone, occupied more with what he thought than with the circumstances that a journey required. that he was to end up with his head crowned with the world’s greatest literary prize.

A round of applause greeted the North American president, although Gabo himself remained with his hands as still as the gaze of a Colombian passing by.”

Years passed and I saw that countenance again many times. An abstracted man, for example, when the president entered Bill Clintonin 2005, to join the tribute that in Cartagena the representatives of the academies of the Spanish Language would pay him. He was listening to speeches in his honor, he kept quiet as if nothing had started, or as if nothing was happening. The people who were speaking suspended whatever speech there was, and a round of applause greeted the US president, although Gabo himself remained with his hands as still as the gaze of a Colombian passing by.

Already then Gabriel García Márquez was again gabitas the child of aracataca who listened to his grandfather tell stories, absent from the world, as at that moment when everyone praised someone with a name like him, who was sitting and it was him, although in his way of being he seemed absent near his homeland , the most important man in the room, in which he was and was not at the same time, because forgetfulness made its way with its merciless light.

He had ways of overcoming the strangeness of the other when he couldn’t remember proper names, since he himself would say things he had learned to mislead whoever he met and who was his friend from another time and who now due to lack of memory turned him into a unknown. He had a way of diluting everything into a powerful and healthy greeting, the same for everyone, “how do you say you’re doing & rdquor ;, and he would leave.

In the case of the collective greeting to Clinton, he finally joined, because he must have seen that this also went with him. That noon of world greetings I left the congress and the celebrations and went to Aracataca, where Gabo was born, I entered the dusty space of his first house, I saw in a corner near the patio with the big trees the imprint of his cradle as the son of the telegrapher, and on my way out I found another area of ​​magic from which his writing came. He was at the door of the old house, stretched out in a chair like the ones Kennedy used to swing on, Nelson Nights, who had been his friend and who lived the memory of the first years together through those dry sewers. I had just been with Gabo in Cartagena, I told Nelson, and asked him when was the last time he had seen his friend: “Gabo was here last night, playing chess & rdquor ;.

That naturalness, which is also that of one hundred years of solitude to make truth of lies or dreams, is in the writing of Gabriel García Márquez, in his melancholy as of a boy who had not finished growingwhose body, whose mustache, whose gaze seemed to seek, even in the most solemn moments of his life, the trace of where he came from.

Those days in Stockholm there were about three Gabos, the family member, the one from the neighborhood, the journalist, accompanying the writer who finally took the stage that was going to crown him with an award greeted throughout the world as if it were for all Spanish-language writers (so his friend said Carlos Fuentes), when in fact it was for a boy from Aracataca who had grown up trying to capture the past with storiesamong which the main one was the largest One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Many years later, that Gabo with the mottled jackets went to Barcelonato visit her other Catalan mother with Mercedes, Carmen Balcells. Those symptoms of 2005, when he saw and did not see Bill Clinton, had already spread through his memory, and he avoided speaking, asking questions with his Barranquillero accent (“come here, you who know, tell me…”), so he formed balls anything with the leftover bread, I kept going to activities (like the Guadalajara International Book Fair) and at the request of Mercedes, and at her wish, he also went to parties in Cartagena de Indias. One of those nights she sat next to Almudena Grandes; While the musicians were distracted in the canteen, he asked the author of Malena is a tango name: “Come here, are they already singing? & rdquor;

1670568337 699 Special envoy to a country called Gabriel Garcia Marquez

At that time, January 2010, his friend had just died Thomas Eloy Martinez. At Gabo’s and Mercedes’ house we were looking for a way to locate the son of the great writer, a friend of all, and Gabriel García Márquez arrived offering to help with anything. Mercedes told him to ask for ice on the phone with huge numbers that was in the room. “I already did the message & rdquor ;, he later told his wife. Turning to me, he asked about whom we were speaking so ruefully. “From your friend Tomás Eloy Martínez & rdquor ;. He thought for a while and finally said out loud something that he also said other times in similar circumstances: “he was the best of all of us & rdquor ;.

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

At that party in Stockholm, forty years ago, liqui liqui dress, crowned as the best writer in the world, said to end a speech that history has kept like gold on a cloth: “In each line that I write I always try, with more or less success, to invoke the elusive spirits of poetryand I try to leave in each word the testimony of my devotion for its divination virtues, and for its permanent victory against the deaf powers of death& rdquor ;.

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

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Special envoy to a country called Gabriel García Márquez