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[Traducido por Hannah Rachel Cole, estudiante del último año de Literatura Comparada, de la Universidad de Brown]

I

The grandmother has died. Seated on a rocking chair I watch the rain fall through the window pane. The funeral will be at three. The murmuring of the people in the hall creates a tense, deathly atmosphere. Tonight will certainly be cold. I don’t go up to the coffin, I’ve never been able to look at the faces of the dead.

I stay calm and silent in the rocking chair. She arrives and says hello to everyone, then she sits down at my side. My eyes tear up. I haven’t seen her for two years. She is pretty as ever. People start to murmur things, they stare at us. I begin to rock back and forth and she gets up, distancing herself from me.
They bring in the wreaths: From your children, with love. From Ramón and family: Rest in peace, mom… Wreaths made of old flowers, flowers they take from dead people to put on other dead people. The family knows but nothing can be done, a death without flowers is inconceivable.
I go to where they’ve hung the wreaths and I pull out a gladiolus. I know the grandmother will understand. I walk over to her and offer her the flower, or at least I try. She looks around, suddenly the murmurs stop. Silence. She makes a gesture of contempt and vomits up her breakfast.
“Damn lesbians,” mutters the grandmother’s oldest daughter.
She leaves with my mother who is standing beside the coffin. Crying, they embrace and look at the dead grandmother.
Someone cleans up the breakfast in the middle of the room.

II

They say that rain at funerals is good, that it means the spirit rises straight to heaven without pauses, without judgment. People speak softly, they pretend, but really they are worried because it’s already three o’clock and the rain hasn’t let up. No one wants to get wet. I brought my guitar with me because I didn’t have time to stop at home. I came just as I was when I heard the news of the grandmother’s death: wearing a red blouse and carrying a guitar on my shoulder. I didn’t realize until I arrived and the old ladies were staring at me, disconcerted.
She arrived and said hello politely, then she sat down at my side, she didn’t offer me condolences, she didn’t say a word. My eyes tear up, I haven’t seen her for two years. She is pretty as ever. People begin to murmur things, they stare openly at us. I start rocking back and forth and she gets up. She distances herself from me.
I pick up the guitar and start to sing her favorite song to her: quien pudiera ser, la naturaleza que te arrulla y que te invade… [1] The priest comes over to where my grandmother was and he snatches the guitar from me, he throws it on the floor. This isn’t enough for him so he jumps on top of it. The priest is breaking my guitar in the name of God.
She begs me please, don’t get upset, it’s my grandmother’s funeral.
“Learn to behave yourself, death is not a game,” a religious person tells me.
Someone picks up the remains of my guitar from the middle of the room.
                                                                                     

III

If it doesn’t stop raining soon, we’ll just have to leave. It’s already almost three. People are annoyed, no one thought that it would rain like this and they don’t have umbrellas. I listen to the voices murmuring about it and I keep on writing in my notebook:
She arrives and sits down at my side after saying hello to everyone. She makes a sign to me and we go to the back of the room behind the columns. She is as pretty as ever. I can’t stand it and I kiss her, we kiss each other. The grandmother’s favorite grandson comes up to us to tell us that it’s three. When he sees the two of us he gets “Damn lesbians,” he says between his teeth and punches me.
We walk out toward the street. A miserable procession behind the coffin, everyone in silence behind the dead grandmother.
Someone cleans up my blood behind the columns in the back of the room.
She sits down next to me. She is as pretty as ever.
“My husband is about to come,” she tells me.
I don’t answer. I keep writing in my notebook:
I go up to the coffin. For the first time I see the grandmother’s dead face before she’s lowered into the grave. She takes a hand and strokes my head.
“I’m coming to the mass tomorrow at eleven,” I tell her.
“Don’t forget. She loves you too, even though she doesn’t want to recognize it.”
Everyone leaves running because it’s raining harder now. The priest wanted to say a few words but they turned their backs to him and rushed outside, jumping into their cars.
 

IV

The mass ended at twelve. It didn’t take too long, or else the time flew by. The church is under repair. In the middle, where the children of God are supposed to pray, there’s an enormous pile of bags of cement. The people settle into an equally inhospitable space: a little improvised hall off to the left. The priest talks but I don’t listen. I wonder if she’s watching, if, after everything, it was worth it to pray so much for this theatrical goodbye.
I leave the church while the people are crossing themselves and wishing for the peace of Christ. She’s waiting outside for me. Neither of us ever believed in God. We walk in silence to the grandmother’s grave. The burial was yesterday but they still haven’t put up the tombstone. A horrible mountain of wreaths on the neighboring graves; we are suffocated by the smell of dead flowers, of rotting flesh. As soon as we get close to the grandmother’s grave a cloud of insects rises. It’s impossible to stay there long.
While we’re looking for the way out of the cemetery she tells me about her life, her marriage, her two small children. She hadn’t forgotten me, in spite of everything, there are nights when she can’t sleep. Everything in the city reminds her of me, the songs on the radio, the sea, everything. But now she has two children, she is married…
Just as we’re about to leave, wounded by my silence, she finally asks the question:
“What about you…are you happy?
“They only bury you once in your life.”

[1] Lyrics taken from the 2002 song “Naturaleza” by Nueva Trova singer Liuba María Hevia. Translated, “who could be nature who lulls you to sleep and invades you.”

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