The epigraph that begins to Gabriel García Márquez’s memoir –“Life is not the one you lived, but the one you remember and how you remember it to tell it” –can be interpreted in two ways. First, as a form of apology from the author before the alteration of the facts that he is going to tell us. Second, the events did not happen as the story tells them, but as the chronicler conceives them.
When I read “The oblivion that we will be”, that book by Héctor Abad Faciolince that some critics insert in the range of text-documents and others as a novel, I was struck by the break that its author makes of that dominant axiology that is like a fingerprint in that idiosyncratic world of Antioquia. It is known that ideologies are not characteristics of an individual, but of a community. It is known that this map that is the collective conscience of societies cannot be erased from the set of subjects like someone who erases a board.
For the American philosopher and historian John Fiskeas for French Roland Barthes, an individual who is born in the limits of a certain linguistic community assimilates the form of speech and the elements that make up said language without this representing a great effort. The same could be said of the rest of the value categories that rotate like satellites within the framework of the other components on which culture is supported. And even if an individual moves away from the environment in which he took his first steps, many of the assimilated elements will remain in him in the same way as salt has been incorporated into the molecular structure of sea water.
the same Garcia Marquez defined this situation, in that long conversation with Plinio Apuleyo Mendozaas follows: “I have never been and will never be anyone other than one of the thirteen children [aunque en realidad eran quince, afirma Jaime García] of the Aracataca telegraph operator. So no matter how much you try to get away from these primary patterns, they will always be there, lurking, like the instinct of domesticated wild animals.
Ideologies are great carriers of meaning. They not only define the way of thinking of social groups, but also their behavior. That is why the concept of ‘berraquera’ that identifies Antioquians is not a simple expression coined by tradition. On the contrary, it is an attitude that is present in coherent patterns and that is evident in each of the actions of the social groups settled in this region of the country.
The anecdote told by a writer friend whose father, a thoroughbred Antioqueño, enlisted him in the Army so that he would stop reading silly books and writing faggots, can give us an idea of the position that this man will have on such sensitive issues as abortion, marriage between couples of the same sex, race or religion.
In the book of Hector Abad Faciolince, the links that make up the axiological chain of acts are broken. And in the memory of the child, the father becomes a kind of planet expelled from its orbit that gravitates to places where the local color disappears. However, that color takes on its texture when the references point to other characters in the story such as the grandparents, uncles and even the mother, in which one can glimpse those attitudes of being antioqueño and that allows them to fit satisfactorily in that space of males and strong women.
In an aside from his text, Abad Faciolince tells us: “When I came home, my dad, to greet me, hugged me, kissed me, told me a lot of affectionate phrases and, in addition, at the end, he burst out laughing ” . Later he affirms: “He never hit any of us, not even lightly, and he was what is called a pimp in Medellín, that is, a permissive person. If I can criticize him for something, it is for having manifested and shown excessive love, although I do not know if there is excess love.
I cannot guarantee that Héctor Abad Faciolince is lying in his story, and I don’t think it does because literature, and in particular the novel, does not constitute a history manual where the facts are required to be as faithful as possible to the circumstances that gave them life. What I can assure you is that children, as such, have a different view of the events that possibly affected them, which almost always differs from the perspective that adults may have of them. And they can even differ, in angle and vision, from one child to another. Even more: from one adult to another.
The above brings to mind an event from my childhood that involves my younger brother, because in his head there is a memory of my father, who got up early one rainy morning and went to the corner store to buy the breakfast. My brother remembers him in the kitchen preparing coffee with milk, frying eggs, spreading a layer of butter on the bread that he would feed his children. He told the anecdote to his wife, who, in turn, one day told it to me.
Intrigued by this fact that was not recorded in my memory, I talked to my brothers about that rainy morning when José, my father, went into the kitchen to prepare food for his little ones, but no one remotely remembered that tender scene of the loving father. And they didn’t remember it for a simple reason: it had never happened, and it hadn’t happened because my father never even learned to fry an egg or prepare a red wine.
Something similar told us, in the Candil literary workshop of the University of Cartagenathe late journalist and writer Eligio Garcia Marquez. Well, his brother, in that talk he had with Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, and which was later published under the title “The smell of guava”, affirms, among other things, that his mythical and first trip to the capital of the Republic he did it alone, with a bundle of clothes on his shoulder and a couple of coins in his pocket, when the truth was totally the opposite of that. Since neither he nor he traveled alone, nor did he lack money in his pocket and his mother had prepared a huge trunk with his things. And in the capital he was expected by relatives who had prepared a room for him with heating and good blankets.
I believe that the novelist has every right to create his personal myths and give his story the colors that he considers pertinent.. I believe that his purpose in writing is not to tell the truth about events, nor to build sand castles, because literature, as we have already said, has as its purpose neither one thing nor the other. Beyond telling a story, there are other reasons that come together in the very act of writing, and that the teacher Sábato defined as the ghosts of the writer. It is likely that Abad Faciolince’s father was not the man who draws the story, and that, when contrasted with other looks and other memories, the image will surely begin to suffer fractures. But life, as our Nobel Prize winner for literature affirmed, is not what one lived, but how one remembers it in order to tell it. And this, I suppose, was what the writer from Antioquia captured in the pages of his best seller.
University professor and master’s degree in communication.
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“The oblivion that we will be” and other memory traps