“Serà un dia que durarà anys”

Necessito buidar el cap i el cor per no ofegar-me amb els pensaments sobre ahir. Ahir, 1 d’octubre de 2017, vam desobeir, en massa, un govern que encara diu que aquí no ha passat res. El mateix govern que ha destinat 31,7 milions d’euros en cossos de seguretat que venien a requisar-nos les urnes. Un govern que avui, amb tota la sang freda del món, està negant rotundament la violència que ha exercit. El mateix que nega el dret a l’autodeterminació dels pobles i que ens despulla de la nostra sobirania. El mateix govern que fa anys que ens dóna l’esquena, blindant-se amb la Sagrada Constitució i que ahir, com a últim recurs, ens recriminava una manca de lleialtat cap al nostre Estatut. Cinisme pur.

Ahir vam desobeir perquè no teníem una altra. I amb desobeir no vull dir votar que sí – vull dir anar a les urnes. Votar ahir volia dir dues coses: per una banda, normalitzar el dret a vot; per l’altra, legitimar la convocatòria d’un referèndum que fa anys que una part important del poble català reclama. Ahir els del sí i els del no decidíem el nostre futur a les urnes (sense estelades, sense aldarulls, sense soroll), i ho vam fer desobeint. Perquè no teníem altra.

Perquè fa dies que a Barcelona les forces de seguretat espanyoles ens recorden que estan a punt per aturar-nos “costi el que costi”. Perquè fa mesos que no es pren seriosament la convocatòria d’un referèndum d’autodeterminació. Perquè fa anys que ningú té ganes d’afrontar “la qüestió catalana”, i perquè fa dècades que necessitem enterrar definitivament el franquisme.

Per tot això, ahir els col·legis electorals de Catalunya van despertar de matinada, plens de persones que hi havien passat una o dues nits, i de famílies (sí, famílies!) que van considerar educatiu portar els seus fills i filles a defensar les urnes. I aquestes persones, joves i grans, arreu del país, van resistir de manera pacífica quan apareixien els furgons de la Policia Nacional o de la Guàrdia Civil per requisar urnes i paperetes a cops de porra.

“Jo he viscut la guerra, nena”, em deia una àvia que entrava emocionada per la porta del col·legi electoral. Vaig acompanyar-la a l’ascensor, i li vaig dir a l’orella “no es preocupi, que ja ho tenim això. Guanyarem”. Em va estrènyer fort la mà, fent que sí amb el cap, i se’n va anar a votar amb els ulls plens de llàgrimes.

No és la dèria de quatre polítics interessats, no és la manipulació de milers de persones, no és que els catalans siguem imbècils. Ja n’hi ha prou d’infantilitzar-nos, de menystenir la nostra voluntat, d’ignorar les nostres demandes. Ja n’hi ha prou de dir que som els responsables de l’odi i de la divisió. Ahir només volíem votar, i ens van colpejar, ens van empènyer, ens van ferir, ens van trencar els dits. I això no s’oblida ni es perdona.

Demà anirem a la vaga perquè nosaltres sí que odiem l’odi. Perquè ahir molts catalans vam resistir durant hores als carrers, fent-los nostres. Perquè tenim memòria i no tenim por.

Visca la República!

Anuncis

Montgomery was on the way

img_4618

“We should keep on driving. New Orleans is only a few hours away now”, the three guys agreed. We’d been on the road for four days now, and Louisiana finally felt close.
“You mean throughout the night?” Juliette asked, checking her watch.
“Well… how will Montgomery be interesting in any way?” they argued.
She wasn’t too keen on the idea. Asya and I weren’t, either. We ended up booking another crappy motel over the phone – we were staying for the night.

Montgomery, Alabama. Pretty exotic. This Southern spring break road trip was actually turning out to be the perfect chance to discover what I like to call ‘deep America’. I thought I had a vague idea about the South: ‘racism’, ‘guns’ and ‘Republicans’ were the first words to unconsciously pop up in my brain when I mentally travelled to these states, Texas being the ultimate representative (though I’ve never been there).

Despite my full awareness that this is terribly stereotyped, I secretly felt a slight satisfaction in what we had encountered so far because it matched my prejudices: souvenir caps in a gas station that read “God and Guns built this country – let us keep them”; a visitor center attendant in Charleston, South Carolina, who claimed not to be racist but who advised us to avoid certain areas because “you know, a lot of Mexicans there”; and of course, Norman, our “security guard” at the motel in Savannah, who, drunk and high as hell, had guaranteed us safety from getting shot or stabbed at night.

Compared to cold Massachusetts, Montgomery felt like summer. Although it was a small and quite empty city, we found out it was here where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, and where thousands of Civil Rights activists had marched to from Selma. These now lonely streets had made history.

After freshening up in our motel rooms, the guys let us know that they felt like having a night to themselves. I think they fancied a small break from us, which was fair enough – you can’t be around your trip buddies 24/7. So Juliette, Asya and I headed to The Aviator, a bar we found online. We ordered three beers and sat outside.

Soon after Andrew and Chad joined us. They were two white chubby guys in their mid-thirties who were clearly pleased to see people going out on a Tuesday night in Montgomery. They tried to guess our nationalities from our accent, but ended up giving in and asking us.

“Paris,” Juliette said.
“Me too” Asya nodded, though she’s lived in Istanbul for longer, but when she says she’s half French half Turkish people ask a lot of questions.
“Barcelona,” I answered.
“Nice.”
“Have you been there?”
“No – I’ve never left the country.”

Andrew and Chad then told their story. They were both from Atlanta but worked here during the week. “We work together – well, he’s my boss,” Chad explained, “You have no idea how much money this guy makes,” he boasted, as if Andrew’s paycheck was his own. Andrew shrugged confidently. We didn’t answer. I changed the subject.

“So… are you hoping for any kind of big change after the election?” I really wanted to ask this question in the South, but it came out so quick I didn’t even realize that maybe here you don’t talk about politics just like that.

Andrew nodded: “I definitely am. I’m not for Trump at all, but this Obamacare thing, you know, the healthcare policy Obama has started, is just crazy. I mean, why on earth do we all have to pay for healthcare when I can afford my own?”

That sounded really weird in my European welfare-state mindset. “Well… I guess Obama is trying to make healthcare accessible for everyone?”
“Yes, and it makes sense, but wouldn’t it be better if you got to choose whether to apply for Obamacare or not? How does it work in Europe anyway?”

They couldn’t believe us when we told them in some countries like Denmark or Sweden some people pay as much as 60% of their income in taxes to pay for public education, healthcare, or care for the elderly.
“That is so… socialist,” Chad said. I chuckled, my mind flying to European borders, where probably at this very moment Syrian refugees were being kicked away. I started rolling a cigarette. Chad stopped.
“Wait, what are you building?”
He made me laugh. “It’s a cigarette!”
“That is so European! Can you roll me one?”

We were short of lighters, so he asked a woman who was smoking behind us with a group of people. She must have found us amusing, because she grabbed a chair and joined us. She was black, middle-aged, short and large. A colored scarf covered her head, and her huge mouth smiled frankly at us as she handed the lighter. “I’m Brittany,” she said.

Brittany was absorbing. I don’t know if it was her accent or her confident body language that mesmerized me. She spoke vigorously about everything that pissed her off, like Obamacare. I figured we looked confused when she clarified, “not all black people are for Obama. And certainly not all are Democrats!”

I wanted her to keep talking. There was one question I was dying to ask, but I didn’t know if I could, so I tried to bring it up softly.
“Brittany,” I hesitated, “can you tell me what the big deal with the… ‘N-word’ is?”
She laughed, “You don’t know what the N-word is?”

Andrew and Chad couldn’t believe it either. I explained I knew what it meant; I just didn’t know why it was such a big taboo, since I’d heard that black people do say it to one another and rap singers use it in lyrics. However, one of my professors in Boston even said he would be risking his whole career if he articulated it as an example in a class on semiotics.

She got serious then, “That’s because you don’t say it. You would just never say it.”
“Is it offensive for you?”
“It’s the worst thing someone can say to me.”
She looked for approval among her bunch of friends. They were all black.
“Isn’t it?”
“Definitely”, “yeah, very offensive”, they agreed.

Brittany shook her head as if recalling an uncomfortable situation she had once faced. She looked up to the barman: “Babe, get us a few more Buds, will you?” She lit a cigarette. “He’s my man”, she clarified, proudly.

Juliette and Asya were busy answering Andrew and Chad’s inquiries about the ISIS attacks in Paris. They’d already had this conversation several times since we were in the States. I focused on Brittany.

“So it is true there is more racism here, in the Southern states.”
“Well yes, and no. Up there in the East Coast it’s subtle: no one will say it upfront because they’re more “educated”” – she rolled her eyes –, “but everybody knows white people have more chances. Here it’s just in your face”.
“So you’ve been directly harassed because you’re black?”
“Of course! You have no idea”. She went on, “Once this guy said something really nasty to me on the street related to my skin color.”
I didn’t ask what. She continued, “And then I thought, you know, I have a nice life, right? I got a job, a car, a house, a man who makes good money… I made it, right? And I’m pretty sure he hasn’t. I actually know him, and I’m certain that he doesn’t make even half the money I make! Huh. He oughta respect me.”

Hang on a second! Was Brittany implicitly justifying racism depending on social class? Or somehow assuming that middle-upper classes should have an extra shield against discrimination because of their income? But she’d referred to the posh East Coast with certain disgust. That was puzzling. A sentence ago I was empathizing with this woman – now I was shocked.

“But Brittany,” I cleared my throat, trying to find the correct words, “how is your income relevant? You were… harassed anyway, right?”

“It matters because we’re in America,” a deep voice spoke up. I looked up to see one of the men in her group. He was wearing some baseball cap and loose clothes. He held a beer in his hand. He looked tired. “Hi, I’m Mike”. He smiled, and we shook hands.

“You Europeans are different. This thing happening in the States, you see, it makes no sense. Working-class people in America resist to say which social position they belong to, because once they reach a certain economic status, they will just forget where they come from. It’s complete denial. We’re dollar-blind”.

Mike admitted his eagerness to travel Europe. He’d been in France and Belgium once but wanted to see more of it. He was very interested in social rights and syndicalism. We jumped from one issue to another: consumerism, capitalism, then we went back to racial profiling and police brutality, Black Lives Matter, -“what kind of racial struggles are there in Europe?”-, the Mexican border, Trump, women, reproductive rights, North and South, East and West. Mike and Brittany agreed and disagreed constantly. Andrew dropped in his pride for raising a mixed-race family. They joked and raised their voices alternatively. Different people gradually joined the debate, until it became a loud mix of different voices with one thing in common: a distinct Southern accent.

And there we were, the three of us, with an overdose of information. We listened more than we spoke, and tried to take in as much as we could. Every now and then we exchanged the kind of glances which meant “this is an interesting evening”.

When we saw the time and remembered that the next morning we had a long drive to the longed-for New Orleans, Andrew offered us a lift back to the motel. Feeling a bit tipsy in the front seat, I wondered if our new friend kept a gun in the glove box. I asked. “Of course I have a gun”. We gasped. “It’s actually awkward that I’m not carrying it right now. I feel so… naked.”

Montgomery, Alabama. Unexpectedly exotic.

Nits a la vila

Un tomb distès,
Sense rumb ni direcció,
Tant és si amunt o avall,
Són bons tots els racons

La llum fosca
Tenyeix el carrer d’un groc pesat
I en torçar a l’esquerra
Una plaça

Un banc buit espera,
El fanal just l’il·lumina,
“Cervesa, amigo?”,
I el pacte està fet

La plaça us acull.

“Benvinguts”, sembla que digui,
“Seieu, xerreu; jo us vigilo
A vosaltres, mussols,
Que de nit em doneu vida”

Sense voler-ho
Esdevé un escenari còmode,
Càlid malgrat el fred,
L’embolcall perfecte

Per a una conversa pausada,
Amb gust de llauna que es queda als llavis,
Un glop fresc a la gola,
I un cigarret que crema

Posades al dia, qüestions trivials,
Confessions serioses,
Algunes inversemblants
Consells de savi, consells de gran

De fons, subtil,
Ressona una guitarra
S’endevina un gran clàssic
De salsa cubana

El borratxo balla,
Una senyora parloteja mirant a terra,
Una parella camina agafada del braç,
Una altra cervesa, amigo

El diàleg degenera
És més íntim encara,
Aspiracions, projectes
Decepcions, desenganys

Un calfred
I és que la nit és fresca
Els ulls piquen
“És tard”, i demà cal matinar

Un silenci llarg
I un cigarret que crema
La plaça segueix

Quieta
Groga
Vigilant

Amb les galtes fredes
I amb el cap que balla
Pedaleu amunt
Entonant una sardana

I ella,
Sense haver pres partit
Discreta però present,
Anònima i necessària,

Et queda enrere
De reüll l’acomiades
“Bona nit, guapa”, murmures,
“I cuida’t, que ens veiem aviat”

5 d’abril

Als meus avis, a qui enyoro per sobre de tot. A la seva terra, que els manté vius.

Ja m’enyoro
D’un matí d’abril
Farcit de romaní
Del sol ponent
Tenyint la muntanya

Ja m’enyoro
Dels ametllers florits
De l’olor dels camins
De l’ombra dels pins
D’un cel que respira

Del dia clar
De la fresca nit
De la seua gent
De lo seu esprit

Que abans de partir,
Com si estigués boja,
Ja m’enyoro jo
D’esta terra roja.

Nits de grana

Un quart d’hora abans és l’hora de les concentracions de gent a la vorera. Tothom queda aquí, és el punt de trobada abans d’entrar. Els impacients truquen pel mòbil. Avui plou. Els vianants s’obren pas entre converses i paraigües. També n’hi ha que esperen tranquils, fullejant el programa. Alguns fumen. Mudats i no mudats.

Jo, cabells recollits, camisa grana i pantaló fosc. Un “bona nit” amb un somriure, un escaneig ràpid del codi QR. “Al quart pis, per allà”. Alguns novells, d’altres esporàdics; d’altres que són fidels, d’aquells de tota la vida. Com a tot arreu en aquesta ciutat, alguns turistes: “This way please”. “Vostè al cinquè? Agafi l’ascensor, el meu company el guiarà”. Normalment els de platea no pregunten. N’hi ha que s’ho coneixen des de petits, de quan acompanyaven engalanats uns pares que venien a “fer societat”. O a gaudir de la música. O ambdues, qui sap. “El guarda-roba, per allà”. Sí que arriben xops.

La veu en off anuncia que la funció comença en cinc minuts. En cinc minuts, el Messies. Se sent una broma: “ah però, el Leo no l’anem a veure al Camp?”. Riuen. No l’he entès. Ah, ara sí. Uf.

“El lavabo, si us plau?”. “Bona nit”, somriure. Quina olor més bona de perfum. És la dona aquella. Què elegant. QR, QR, QR. “Excuse me, could you take a photo?”

Dos minuts. El hall queda buit. Algun que fa tard entra corrents, passa de llarg del guarda-roba i puja les escales de tres en tres. Tanquem portes. La remor boja de la Rambla queda com un soroll sord de fons. Pels altaveus sentim com l’orquestra afina desordenada. Les cordes. Algun vent. Els violins. Oh, els violins.

Els camises granes agafem l’ascensor i ens distribuïm pels pisos, un a cada. Em quedo sola i arribo al cinquè. M’agrada que el meu pis sigui el més alt, no sé per què. M’agrada la buidor de l’espai, la forma circular d’aquest passadís. Una paret gruixuda em separa de la sala principal, de la sala de la música, però m’agrada el silenci i aquesta llum tènue. Agafo un programa: “El Messies, de Georg Friedrich Händel”. Què bé. Està a punt de començar una d’aquelles obres que aconsegueix posar-me els pèls de punta.

Sec al banc adossat a la paret, també de color grana, que sempre acaba resultant-me còmode per recolzar-hi l’esquena. Ara estan acabant d’afinar. Per sort, he après a gaudir de la música sense veure-la. M’agrada tancar els ulls i imaginar-me el director movent la batuta amb elegància primer, despentinat després; les cares dels músics sota tensió, el públic atent. M’agrada aixecar-me i aplaudir quan toca, malgrat ningú no em senti.

M’agrada estar sola a les nits del Liceu.

Ha callat l’últim violí.

Wisdom

Fotografia: Berta Reventós

Saviesa, sabiduría. No sé per què, però trobo que en català i en castellà la paraula perd força, com si part del significat s’evaporés i en quedés tan sols un bocí, incapaç de descriure la vertadera qualitat del savi.

Per a mi, un savi no té per què saber molt d’una cosa, ni ser culte o un gran intel·lectual. Penso, més aviat, que la saviesa parteix de l’experiència, d’haver recorregut un camí prou llarg com per saber, per fi, qui ets i què vols. Parteix d’haver-se explorat un mateix, d’haver-se conegut en situacions de tot tipus. I crec que ningú ha caminat tant per dins seu com la gent gran.

I és que un avi ha vist moltes més coses que cap de nosaltres. Parlar de qualsevol tema amb una persona gran pot ser interessantíssim. Si són xerraires i s’esplaien, pots passar-te tota una tarda sencera parlant tant de política com del que han fet aquest matí. I aquesta és la màgia dels avis, que com els nens, però carregats d’experiència, tornen a estimar les coses senzilles. Un dia de sol. Regar les plantes. Un dinar familiar, o el somriure d’un nét. I allà hi troben, si no la felicitat, la raó que els empeny a llevar-se cada matí tot i tenir l’esquena cansada.

I si són “cascarràbies” o rondinaires, apreciem-ho com part del seu encant, perquè ja no canviaran. Gaudim dels avis, anem a veure’ls, truquem-los per saber com els hi va. Escoltem-los quan parlen, fem preguntes, perquè ells ens faran conèixer molt del que desconeixem i potser ningú més ens ensenyarà. Potser ens explicaran “batalletes” o ens instruiran amb refranys, però sigui com sigui les seves paraules ens quedaran a la memòria, perquè només les paraules dels savis es recorden. I quan nosaltres siguem avis i tornem a valorar la senzillesa de les petites coses, pensarem en ells, somriurem i direm: “quins mestres”.