Uit:The Calligraphy of Dreams (Vertaald door Nick Caistor)
“Torrente de las Flores. He never thought that a street whose name meant a river of flowers could be the backdrop to a tragedy. From the top of Travesera de Dalt, the street slopes steeply downwards, levelling out where it meets Travesera de Gracia. It has forty-six corners, is seven-and-a half metres wide, is lined with low-rise buildings, and boasts three taverns. In summer, during the perfumed days of the patron saint’s fiesta, drowsy beneath an ornamental bower of paper bunting and multi-coloured garlands, the street takes on a sound like reeds rustling in the breeze, and a quavering, underwater glow that makes it seem otherworldly. After supper on nights of stifling heat, it becomes a prolongation of everyone’s home.
These events happened many years ago, when the city was less believable than now, but more real. One July Sunday, shortly before two in the afternoon, the blazing sun and a sudden shower mingle for a few minutes, and the air is filled with a shimmering light, a wavering, deceptive transparency that envelops the whole street. This is turning out to be a very hot summer, and by this time of day the blackish road surface has become so heated that the drizzle evaporates even before it hits the ground. When the shower ends, on the pavement outside the Rosales bar-cum-wine cellar a block of ice delivered by a truck and loosely wrapped in a cloth is melting in the remorseless sunlight. It’s not long before tubby Agustin, the bar owner, emerges with bucket and ice pick, squats down, and starts chipping pieces off it.
On the stroke of half-past two, a little higher up than the bar and across the street, where the optical illusion is at its strongest, Senora Mir comes running out of the doorway of number 117. She is clearly in distress, as if she is fleeing a fire or an apparition. She stands in the middle of the road in her slippers, her white nurse’s uniform only half done up, apparently unconcerned that she is revealing what she shouldn’t. For a few seconds she doesn’t seem to know where she is; she twists round, clawing the air with both hands until she stops spinning and, head sunk on her chest, lets out a long, hoarse cry that seems to come from the pit of her stomach, a scream that slowly subsides into sighs and then tails off like a kitten’s mewling.”
Juan Marsé (Barcelona, 8 januari 1933)