– I don’t interfere because I can’t !!!
It takes me a millisecond to realize that it’s up to us to decide.
The cry interrupts my long embrace with a friend on a sidewalk in Barcelona on a sunny afternoon. It was how many months, we had not seen each other. Greater emotion. Pandemic, you know.
People leave and see a petite seventy-year-old woman with glasses on her nose, looking at us with tears in her eyes and her dramatically intertwined hands supporting her reddened face, her glasses misting over the surgical mask.
I have it right away. I asked: do you want a hug too? And I gave him a big hug. He starts to shake while crying. Passers-by look at us curiously.
Calmer, she tells us: she lost her husband to fulminating colon cancer earlier this year. Her son lives far away, in Valence. He only saw him for funeral acts. Pandemic, pandemic.
She had coronavirus, too. This is followed by an empathetic pat on the back. It’s hard, it’s hard. But here we are.
“I have no one and I haven’t known what a hug is for a long time. Thank you, thank you, ”she said.
Maria del Pilar, Pili for the intimate, is a dancer. Show us pictures. It is I who stages the crucifixion of Christ, it is I in a tango show. Here I danced Sevillanas. Look what a piece of a woman I was!
We accept. Holy cat, really. My friend is also a dancer, I say – of what ?, asks Pili. “Street dancing,” he replies. Pili looks like someone who doesn’t understand and follows him. She needs to talk talk talk, and she refuses to talk about her life, the past few months, showing pictures of her husband, a nice man with a gray mustache, who, by the way, I think, looked a bit like my uncle .
“In the last few years, I’ve started performing in geriatric homes,” he says. “Padinhos dos oldhinhos. So lonely “.
Nursing homes have been at the center of the Spanish pandemic, with thousands of deaths and reports of neglect and abuse.
She says that one day a lady in a wheelchair, with her hands clenched with arthritis and other hostile Paraanites her age, refused to play dominoes with her companions. Discouraged, disheartened. Pili said: look. If you only had half an hour to live, would you play? And the old lady entered the game.
In another conversation about one of those residence visits, he commented to a señor about one of those basic filofrases that he didn’t write to Clarice but that everyone get their ass tattooed: the life, Mr. Pepe, is a moment. “Sometimes even that,” Pepe replied, that unknown sage.
I try to say goodbye countless times. My friend is sweeter than me, but even my cutting skills fail here. Pili sips us to the last drop, like water in the desert. He doesn’t want to let us go. She asks where we are going, where we live, and finally, I give her my number. “May I send you a good morning, a good afternoon and a good night with hearts?” She asks. I answer, drawing as much good humor from my bilious depths: Lola, if you do that, I swear to Dios that I will block you.
When we were gone, she yells in the distance: hey, do you like chicken? Because the roast chicken from Carrefour, girls, is a delight, and its price is very advantageous !! And, sparkling as it came, it fades into the afternoon of spring light.
Pili, Pili. Small major importance of the pandemic. In time: so far you haven’t sent me hearts on WhatsApp. But the beautiful photo you see in this concrete article, yes. Dance, dance …