Friday, 24 March 2017

The Forgotten Bridge Route (part II)

I have arrived to the lands that my father used to work. They are all fenced. I find it difficult to orient myself and find once more those references that remain nebulous in my memory.

I ask some men I see who are herding cows whether they know Paulino el “menguas”´s house.
“You are menguas’ kid, aren’t you?”, yells the eldest one while looking at me up and down, “wait for my Juliana to see you… damn! she´s not gonna believe it!” he rushes away and, unexpectedly, he turns around in a sudden move shouting: “take a look at your father's house, which is that one over there where we keep the cows!”

He points behind my back; I turn around and see the building that was my home once, quite abandoned, but its structure remains just as I remembered.
I stare at it… my sister and I used to get out of that house every morning at 7:30 to go to the village, along the same path my father used to take the beasts to work the olive grove. We used to leave him in the second curve, taking the way that the goats used, to the left, that soon led to the village along the left side of the “garganta” (wild stream), us walking upstream.

We walked surrounded by oak trees, the leafy ferns caressing our calves; those ferns which play the leading role in the undergrowth of the region whose memory has marked my memory ever since, along with the day we decided to go down to the “forgotten bridge”
“-Pedro, father has told us not to go there”
“-Sister, let's go and you'll see how loaded the ‘garganta’ is, after the rains”
We go up the muddy path and we lie down on the upper platform, leaning over the stark edge where the parapet was supposed to be. “Do you see, sister, how spectacular the waters flowing downstream are? Look at the depth underneath the bridge, it must be three metres at least.”
My sister turning around while lowering her head; an ashlar tearing down under her and her falling down into the air, are the nightmare that still remains in my thought.
My father determined my leaving the village in the early 50s.
First Plasencia and Salamanca were my destinations during the following nine years, and Barreiros, Chrysler, Renault and, currently, Matra factories were my following destinations.
Mother tells me that father was very proud of his son, the industrial engineer. He left his staff on the base of the bridge arch, at the left bank, two days before lying down on his bed, never to stand on his own again.

A strong voice behind my back breaks my thoughts: “It’s Pedrito, my Pedrito, come ‘ere, kid, you are already a man, aren’t you? Now, you are a bit scrawny, don’t you ‘ave enough to eat? How long will you be ‘ere? You staying for lunch? I have that tomato soup you always liked so much...”

-”I am really thankful, Juana; I am having lunch with my mother in the village”.

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The Forgotten Bridge

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