Uit: Zig Zag (Vertaald door Lisa Dillman)
“Exactly six minutes and thirteen seconds before her life took a drastic, horrifying turn, Elisa Robledo was working at something quite ordinary. She was teaching an elective on modern theories of physics to fifteen second-year engineering students. She in no way intuited what was about to happen. Unlike many students, and even a fair few professors for whom the setting proved formidable, Elisa felt more at ease in the classroom than she did in her own home. That was the way it had been at her old-fashioned high school and in the bare-walled classrooms of her university, too. Now she worked in the bright, modern facilities of the School of Engineering at Madrid’s Alighieri University, a luxurious private institution whose classrooms boasted views from the enormous windows overlooking campus, perfect sound from their superb acoustics, and the rich aroma of fine wood. Elisa could have lived there. She unconsciously assumed that nothing bad could happen to her in a place like that.
She couldn’t have been more wrong, and in just over six minutes she would realize that.
Elisa was a brilliant professor who had a certain aura about her. At universities, certain professors (and the occasional student) are the stuff of legend: the enigmatic Elisa Robledo had given rise to a mystery everyone wanted to solve.
In a way, the birth of the Elisa Mystery was inevitable. She was young and a loner; she had long, wavy black hair and the face and body of a model. She was sharp and analytical, and she had a prodigious talent for abstraction and calculation-characteristics that were key in the cold world of theoretical physics, where the principles of science rule all. Theoretical physicists were not only respected, they were revered-from Einstein to Stephen Hawking. They fit people’s image of what physics was all about. Though most people found the field abstruse (if not wholly unintelligible), its champions always made a big splash and were seen as stereotypical, socially awkward geniuses.
Elisa Robledo was not cold at all. She was passionate about her teaching, and she captivated her students. What’s more, she was an excellent academic, and a kind, supportive colleague, always willing to help out in a crisis. On the surface, there was nothing strange about her.”
José Carlos Somoza (Havana, 13 november 1959)