Short Story by Aba Mardjani
Published in Kompas Daily on 18 April 2004
THAT old lady sitting alone in a chair in Las Ramblas pedestrian. Breeze were blowing her golden hair. Occasionally she nodded or throw a smile to people passing in front of her and happened to look at her. It's almost nine o'clock, apparently. Sunlight still visible on the western horizon there. Musician-singer from Puerto Rico were sang their traditional songs. Songs about people's morale farmers. El Cantar de un Campesino (A Farmer's Song), Mi Jaragual (My Little Farm), gliding lilting with a vet beautiful dance. Some people gathered to listen. Some of them bought their haid-made tape for ten pesetas.
"Como Estas, Hoy, Elena?"
"Bien. Muy bien, Pedro."
A man sitting next to her. A stick of wood from oak trees in his hands. He is as old as the lady. His head was bald. The old lady smelled the fragrance of the man's body. Freshness coursed through her entire body.
“Do they have a Canadole a lo Nuestro?” The old man asked. "I've always liked that song."
The lady smiled. "Not yet. You can give them a few pesetas and asked them to sing it for you."
Smiling, the lady’s hand holding the hand of the old man. Embers of love erupted in her chest.
"Yes, for us, Pedro," she said.
For a moment she was silent.
"I just got the third grandchild," she said moments later. Her voice was flat. Her eyes stared into the fire torch singers who insert and remove a flaming torch in his mouth. "Una hija. Muy bonita." She ended the sentence with a smile.
The old man turne his head.
"Who are her parents?" he asked. Her voice was soft. There is a poignant tone. As there is an override that burden.
"The youngest. Julia."
Then the old man took a breath. Saying nothing.
"You do not want to say anything else, Pedro? Por que?" the old woman turned, looked at the old man. He is still handsome as ever, she thought. He hid the joy in his heart. Turbulent flame of love in his chest.
"You want me to say what? I'm so happy with all the gifts that you receive? Is that so?"
"At least you could comment on anything, Pedro. You could pretend to be happy. For my sake."
The night continued to crawl. The sun is about to disappear swallowed by the Earth. That's always in Spain. In summer, the sun seemed reluctant to rush to stop shining on the Earth.
"How's Raul? Is he happy with Bettina?" then the old man asked. In his face glowing happiness trajectory. He waited for an answer the woman with chest thumping. Can not wait.
"Raul is often asking for you. He always miss you."
Suddenly the man smiled bitterly. In his mind, Raul faces scrolling. A big man who almost died because of ramming a bull in a matador stadium in La Monumental de Barcelona. That's what made him stop as a torero, although it was his goal since childhood. He wanted to be like Pedro Romero, a very famous legendary matador, who always hailed the audience in each performance.
The old man glanced at the old woman. His hands still in her hand. Love fire burning.
"I really wanted him to be a football player," he said with a restrained smile. "If he had obeyed my words, maybe this time he was playing in La Liga with Raul Gonzalez. There will be two Raul there. El Merengues always be a team pride even though I was a Basque. I do not want him to be at the Nou Camp. I just wish he was in the Santiago Bernabeu. "
The lady smiled. Her hand still holding the hand of the man. She knew Pedro did not want Raul to be at the Nou Camp. That stadium knew everything about them. It was there that she and Pedro had first met when Barcelona defeated Liverpool in a match European levels 26 years ago. Pedro comes with all the attributes of Barca. So did Elena. In one glance, they love knit. In their chest grown love flowers. Their heart beat seemed more rapid.
Two years of Elena and Pedro shoulder to shoulder as a supporter of Barcelona until then love them separated by fate, just like Barca who two years previously set aside football club from the British soil. Love is not always be united despite their soul would not be separated by anything.
"I thought it was too late," said the man later. His voice slightly hoarse. "It is time we parted. I say good-bye." The man got up. Kiss on her forehead. "Buenas noches, Elena. Hasta luego."
The old lady smiled. "Pedro," she said, the man stopped. "Te amo."
NOTHING changed in Las Ramblas. Pedestrians still milling about from morning to morning. There is a relaxed, there are in hurry. The singers stood on the side of the road with unlimited patience. Everyone demonstrate the advantages of each pedestrian as they wished there who are willing to set aside a few pesetas. They do not stretch out their hands. They sell cleverness. There are behaving like a living mannequin with body wrapping with kind of white paint and change the position when someone threw a dime in a boxes in front of them. Puerto Rican singing group also remained faithful to their songs in front of a store that sells a variety of magazines and newspapers.
Elena, the golden-haired woman, it also remains faithful sat in the chair occupied yesterday. Whether this day how she was there. He was not senile to calculate the period. But, she did not want to count. She worried the count stopped at a certain number. She wanted to enjoy times as he wanted on her old. Without bound anything.
As with previous days, Pedro, the old man, came later. With stick in hand. Which he knocks slowly as he walked. Without the stick he was actually still able to survive. Sticks of oak was more than a friend. What makes the stride feel lighter.
"Buenos dias, Elena," he said upon arrival. Without waiting for an answer, he sat beside the woman.
"Buenos dias," Elena smiled widely. Coolness loaded her heart. In her chest, sense of comfort penetrated. The remains of the fire of love in her eyes glowing bright.
"Are you OK?" The man asked, like try to find the subject to talk in the bright of afternoon.
"As you can see. Since first your eyes are always good, right?" The woman replied. Without turning her head.
A young couple then sat in the front seat across from them. With ice cream in their hands. The young woman handed an ice cream in her hand into the mouth of the man. The young man handed an ice cream in his hand into the mouth of the girl. Then, both of them together a bite of ice cream at the same time. Then they laugh hardly. They just seemed to exist alone. They do not care about pedestrians milling about.
The old woman smiled. The old man smiled. Both were reminded of the good old days at the Plaza Montjuic under the fountain splashed jumping up and down along the boom drums from classical symphonies-Beethoven symphony God knows how long ago. When love is making them drunk. When giving and receiving pervasive.
"You remember when it I winced, is not it?" The lady turned.
"Yes, you said your teeth are sore. Are not you a toothache that time?"
"It's not a toothache. Sprue make my gums are sensitive."
Great memories popping up one after another meeting of their minds when they were sitting together like this. In addition to the Nou Camp, the corners of Plaza Montjuic be a witness of their love eternal immortality. Love is timeless and change. When they peck each other in love with the strains of an increasingly intertwined. When the wanderer love dancing in the dim light mercury. At that time they were sure there would not be able to cut the rope and fabric of their love, after a drop of seed also happened in an unrequited romance.
But, destiny had then come to separate them. Elena had to marry another man her father's choice. Never imagined it could happen. For the sake of a family business, Elena, the woman beloved, putted down to men who never she knew and loved. And both were then separated in a tearful with folded arms in an old hotel room in Las Ramblas pedestrian side of this. Their faces were wet with tears and drops of love.
Almost twenty-eight years of the incident passed. And now nature bring them back. In the body of old, their love remains vibrant. In their old body, the fire of love still burning hot. Time could not wipe and diminish their desire to stay together. The fire of them love are buried. But it never goes out. Their love is fettered. But their love is do not reduced by change and time.
"You love your wife, Pedro?" The woman asked.
The man turned his head. This is the first time such a question slide. After so long they often meet and express themselves ever destroyed. Should I answer it honestly? The man wondered. If I tell the truth, if her heart would not be destroyed? He again tapped his heart with full of questions of doubt.
"Deceased wife?" He tried to stall. While trying to find the best answer. That would not hurt the woman by his side. Women who had always been present in his dreams.
The lady turned. Smile softly. With lips still looked ripe. At least in the eyes of the man who increasingly myopic. But the smile that once made him nervous. Making his heart restless. And he felt the sweat has made his palms wet. A gust of wind made her more upset. Clot in his chest feeling worried. Prick-puncture pain like a million knives.
"At least I have children from Evita," his voice hoarse. "I love my children. Pablo and Javier." He paused. Something like making a throat to choke. When he glanced at the woman, he saw the wind makes her hair parted. And he like to wait. "Do, do you love your husband?" He asked after gathering all the courage.
The woman chuckled. Her voice slightly trembling.
"Why are you laughing, Elena?" The man asked.
"Just like you, from Enrique I've got Julia."
"You do not want to say Raul as your son?"
The man did not immediately respond. As if to let the question evaporates.
"You're still listening to me, Pedro?"
"Si," the man's throat was getting choked. "Raul has my blood. But he was your son and Enrique."
Night creeping up. The cold air feels increasingly piercing their old bodies.
"I go home first, Elena," said the man ahead after a young man drove in front of it with roller skates on his feet.
Elena rose. Pedro also risen. He kissed her forehead. Then move to the north. The woman went to the south, to the Plaza de Catalunia.
FOLLOWING day, the two met at the Plaza de Toros La Monumental de Barcelona, an old building that still maintained very well. Both had always liked the action of the torero and the matador kills the bull.
I hear more and more opposed to a show like this," said the man when both are sitting on an old wooden chair in Barreras. "It seems inhumane. But nature created by God to man. The others are complementary. They must be part to make man happy."
"That you always say," the woman smiled when the paseillo entered the arena and they waved to the audience. Since childhood, she was always amazed by the colorful of the torero’s clothes. "They, the environment and animal lover, wants all living beings, living peacefully."
"But this is our tradition," the man protested.
"I know. And we are not here to dispute, is not it? We're here to watch."
The man startled by the sound of the woman who sounded brittle. She is still as before, the man thought. He remembers when they first entered La Monumental de Barcelona as lovers. Elena refused to sit in Barreras because ticket prices expensive. She would rather sit in gradas. The most expensive tickets. "If you want to sit there, please you sit alone. I want us in gradas," he said at the time. Hastily the man grabbed the woman's right hand with his left hand. Held it tightly. Like do not want to be separated.
A novilladas entered the arena. Ready to start the show. A small applause sounded. That's always the fate of the matador beginners. They had to show their skill to master a bull before then recognized as a torero and finally after its ability tested, be a real matador.
"Who was your favorite bullfighter now?" The man cleared his throat after a moment.
"Like I love you, till now I still prefer the Pedro Romero."
"But he was dead."
"Therefore, today I want to see action of Enrique Ponce."
The lady turned. Smiled knowingly.
"Do not be like a child, Querido mio. Had nothing to do with Enrique my late husband. I like him because of his greatness, not because of his name. There is no Enrique inside me anymore."
Enrique Ponce entered the arena. He will be climaxing the show that afternoon. Formations applause when he came out from puerta grande. Applause increasingly large formations when a bull weighing 360 kgs confronted him. And, he did not need to linger to stick his estoque through the top of the bull's neck and then slowly as prostrate before the matador.
"It's like having eyes of an angel," the woman said, like a sigh.
"He was remarkable. One day he might be like Pedro Romero, the legendary," continued the man.
Now both are sitting on a couch made of iron on the side of the road not far from Plaza de Toros. The sun was shining very brightly. The sky looks blue.
"I do not want all this to an end," the man said, his voice accompanying hoopoe birds from a distance.
"But life has its limits," said the woman along the palm tree leaves rustling in the wind.
"You want us to finish everything, Elena?"
No audible reply. Her eyes stared into the distance. The four old men playing petanque, the game threw the iron ball is round like a palm hammer.
"You want me to marry you?" Tthe man asked again.
That old woman grimaced.
"It would be an interesting marriage," he sighed after a while. "But Raul does not want that to happen."
The man looked startled.
"Did you tell him who I am?" The man asked. . Guessing. A sense of confusion jumping on his chest.
"Not like that maybe you would have thought. To him, you're my first love. He knows what it means."
"But, why he did not agree we're married?"
No audible reply soon.
"I do not want to know why. I just know he did not agree."
Both silent for long.
SILENT cover the room. The old man sat looking at the woman. There is a surge of love. Pounding their both chest.
"You're still pretty as you were," he said, more like a sigh. His voice was somewhat muffled. "My love never tarnished by the times."
A drop of clear water dripping in the eyes of the woman. There's no word glide. He remained silent without a sound, for some time. But in his chest struck happiness.
The old man stood up. Stepping and approached slowly. The old woman sat quietly waiting. Relentless pounding his chest.
In several moments the old man and the woman sat in silence. But the roar of love on both chest pounding.
Then, the room was dark. In the dark, the man stared at the barren hills, but gave him the passion overflowed. The woman stammered. In a stutter he found a growing shoots. Passion in his chest had popped. His heart was beating fast growing.
In the submission she let the old man go. Ascend. Climbing and hiking. Until then everything stops. In the eternal silence.
Raul Julia, Pablo, and Javier lined. With the dress all in black. In front of them two bodies lined up in silence. In the crate wrapped in black cloth. Very soon the funeral procession made.
"I'm sorry for everything that has happened," said Pablo. He aimed his sentence for Raul and Julia.
"There's nothing to forgive. No one is to blame," said Raul with his face still down.
"They left with their eternal love," said Julia softly.
No one responded again.
1) Barcelona lost 0-1 to Liverpool in the UEFA Cup semifinal second leg on March 30, 1976.