Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A year ago

Today, a year back, was the last time I talked with my mother. She said we should meet in Mexico because it was cheaper to go there than meet in Europe. She also said her mother said she was right, concerning an argument she had had with my brother while at the doctor.

The day after she could not talk anymore, and the following day, March 19th 2014, she passed away.

I was there till one week before, for a month. I spent my time in Chile making a workbench and handrails for her staircase. And having time with her, eating, talking, helping her to walk, making her dance.

Once I left, she would use the handrail and go down the stairs by herself to the kitchen, maybe start cleaning the dishes or something. She liked to have a clean home.

I should have made the handrail a few years ago, she had knee problems and going down in winter was always a pain in the ass. In the knees actually. But it was funny also, seeing her go downstairs, real slow, pretending her knees were still working. The dog, Chicho, used to go down before her and then wait on the ground floor for her.

My grandmother was a communist. The military came looking for her after the coup, but somehow they didn't take her, she was not home that day and may have known someone on the higher ranks. Her brother in law was not so lucky and spent a few years "desaparecido", he came back sick and mentally ill, and died a few years later in a wheel chair. I didn't meet him and we never talked too much about him. To be honest, we never talked so much about those years. I guess it was painful for them to remember. One of the few stories my mom used to tell was the one of compañero Allende asking for the telephone in our house.

My mom was a socialist in the neoliberal Chile of the 90s. Which didn't mean much, the market rules the economy, and the economy rules it all, but let's try to say we are still left wings. Anyway, my house was a house were we talked in the table. For lunch, dinner, onces or pizza night with vino, we sat in the kitchen and we talked. When I was in Enschede, a friend of mine recommended me a book from an Iranian psychoanalyst,  her last patient a woman who left his husband so she could dwell into philosophy. Chile and Iran are quite similar by the way, the latter has better food though. This woman tells her about the group A and the group B, and the difference was that one discussed things at the table and the other not. She was from A and her husband from B and there was no way things were going to work.  Anyway I digress. The thing is that life in my mom's house was an excuse to have time to sit in the kitchen and talk. And friends came by, and stayed for the evening or for some months, and we kept the conversation going.

So what was left from all that revolutionary energy, from all those people who lost their lives because they thought that justice was a good idea? A kitchen where to have fun.

Maybe what I'm trying to say is that you need to keep fighting against it, keep a small space of resistance somewhere in your heart, in your life, where things are done the right way. And you should expand from there, creating humanity.

Anyway, as Shakespeare would say, Good night sweet princess, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

The flowers in front of the kitchen


  1. Replies
    1. it may be me, I'm all the time accused of drama queen :P

  2. Replies
    1. hopefully my friend, we need to find new ways to reunite. Or to quote Rulfo (or was it Parra talking of Rulfo?) "Nos salvamos juntos o nos hundimos separados."

    2. Maybe carpentry drawing and japanese saw sharpenning is a good start! back to the basic.

  3. Very poignant piece, thanks for sharing. Reminds me of the quote from James Krenov: "We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our lives"

    As an Iranian, I'm also happy you like our food :)

  4. Thanks Siavosh!

    and for me, Iranian food is like Japanese carpentry, some of the highest human achievements. I was lucky enough to share a flat with a good iranian cook.

  5. My father was a draughtsman, and had a job teaching drafting at a company that was owned by ITT, in 1973. When he read about what happened in Chile, he resigned and wrote a letter to his employers and the head of ITT, and said he would no longer work for a company that would overthrow a democratically elected government. Only a gesture; easily ignored - and he got a better job at a local civil engineering firm. (where he was the oldest draughtsman in a small group, and was nic-named "Pappy")

    Not even civil disobedience works against corporations; Kurt Vonnegut said corporations are run by PP's - psychopathic personalities. My response to the problem is to live a life pattern independent of the corporations, to empower as many sane people as possible, and try to be sane. Only a gesture, to be sure.

    It's like watching the Juggernaut of Krishna, only it's a juggernaut of desecration, pulled along by the fools of consumerism, the priests of Mammon, the zombies of Materialism.

    My father died in November '75, and I miss him sometimes still. But at least he hasn't had to watch the course our country has been on all this time. He was a man of honour.

    I've drawn elevations and a ground plan for a "traditional Japanese forge". Next is a series of dimensioned process plans and parts and joints list, and drawings of each piece. All this because a Japanese style entry I built for a house hit a number of snags due to using Shaku and English measurements, a series of scale drawings loosely related to each other, NOT using story sticks, and poor leadership on my part.

    1. Thanks for your words Mark. I like to think those gestures somehow remain, that perhaps is the only thing that remains. And Vonnegut is very very right, I remember still the first book of him I read, Slapstick. Lot's of Hi Ho and a clown on the cover of the spanish version.

      I would love to see those plans. I (will, soon, finally) have a 3x5m roofed space in my garden that I would love to convert into a small forge. I will try to find old chilean redwood for the fuigo.