Conditions for the Revolution

Pola Oloixarac

Translated from the Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem


That morning, Mara went by her mother’s house to get some clean clothes. She slid between the armchairs in the living room and the coffee tables overflowing with magazines; she didn’t want to run into her. On the modular shelving in the library, flanked by books by Eduardo Galeano and Gabriel García Márquez, the computer screen showed an unfinished game of solitaire. Mother Cris wasn’t there. She’d been a little depressed because Quique, her current lover, had way too much time on his hands. At first he wandered around Cris’s house, leaving his toothbrush there, and then kindly (suspiciously) offering to cook, until one day she gave him a hard stare and said, look, I think that, these days, the most important thing in a relationship is respecting each other’s space, but if you need to, please let me finish, if you really need to, you can stay here. Quique was of medium height and had brown eyes and a disorientated air about him, but he seemed stripped of everything that makes disorientation an attractive or romantic trait.

‘You don’t recognize me because I let my grey come in and now I have a ponytail.’ He had brought his snout closer.

Cris would have preferred that he didn’t make such direct mention of the ponytail; she was enough of an adult – and alone, not getting any younger – to know she could stand the sight of the ponytail, but not talking about it. Quique wasn’t intimidated by Cris’s sideways glances, the deliberate nature of some of her absent and distracted moments. He read it as a display of parameters, a female logic lubricating its own version of the conquest seconds before launching, insatiable, into mating. The sweetness of desperation was an inalienable asset in middle-aged ladies for whom casual sex would soon be a piece of Grandma’s jewellery that nobody would want to touch. Quique was an optimistic guy. He narrowed his eyes, fulfilling his civic role of mensch playing at seducer:

‘In those days I already had you in my sights, but you were with somebody else.’

Cris pursed her lips, trying mentally to distance herself from the scene: for the moment, being the recipient of Quique’s attentions was far from flattering. But ‘somebody else’ awoke Cris’s interest (vanity disguised as interest) from its lethargy and, overcome with complicity, she used the opportunity to laugh hysterically. And yes, she was always with somebody or other. Quique felt as if the fat men of the Metal Workers’ Union were urging him on, gesturing at him with full arms as if he were in a car and wanted to park; you go ahead, he thought, as he slipped his thumb cautiously through the loop of Cris’s jeans. With a quick glance, Cris detected his hand hanging close to her proud ass, her personal PR agent; unable to renounce her chance at playing the coquette, Cris commented: Hmm . . . dangerous. I’m the type that falls in love, so if I were you, I’d think twice. If Quique had been twenty years younger, he would have made a bet with himself as to how long it would take him to penetrate her anally; now, mature and serene, he stuck out his tongue slightly before touching her lips.

Then he told her about when he set off for Spain, in ’73. She looked at him with her eyes open very wide, and then exclaimed in a shocked tone: But that was our brightest moment! Our whole generation, all the young people, like never before, in the streets! You couldn’t have left in ’73! She was exaggerating her enthusiasm a bit, aware that widening her eyes and raising her voice was part of the display of politics and passion and, therefore, part of Cris herself: the small groups of demonstrators talking nearby noticed her fiery presence, her dynamic and battle-hardened style, and she immediately felt younger. And when we freed the prisoners! And when we took over the Student Centre and made them kick out all the right-wing staff! And when – In a tender shift that exasperated Cris, Quique interrupted her, taking her sweetly by the chin.

‘I felt that something wasn’t going right, Cris. The maximalist prerogatives were pushing things to a crossroads. Besides, I had an aunt who was moving right then, all her things were on the boat, and I got on.’ Cris pursed her lips again; her attention was becoming erratic. He tried to get her to come to her senses. ‘Cris, the bases had shifted. The logic of the situation was headed down the pan. I abandoned Peronism when I realized that violence was the only path left for me to go down. I’ve always been political, but I’ve always considered myself more Gramscian than Peronist. Trotskyist too. Strictly speaking, for a while I was methodologically Marxist but officially Peronist.’

She wasn’t convinced, but at least he had managed to confuse her somewhat. The context helped. The democratic disillusionment with the fall of de la Rúa’s government translated into the semantic realm as ‘urgency’, ‘change’ and plans for society’s future. Carefully, Quique dropped a few names while checking out the effect they had on his prospective lover’s face. It was some sort of encoded game of Battleship, where the breadth of his combat itinerary sought out correspondence with some emotional oasis in Cris’s swampy sentimental structure. Certain facial expressions maintain bi-univocal relationships with a group of data; the expressions are stimulated by the data; Quique’s objective was to provide nuggets of information to stimulate those elusive mental objects that typically nest beneath the female skin and make a man ‘interesting’. Testing out the coordinates of the grid, Quique’s attack on the female fantasy included comrade experiences, youthful rebellious spirit, true commitment to the bases, active participation in the armed struggle (sunk!). Quique smiled, savouring very similar words, reliving an old tactic applied in Barcelona and Paris on Spanish women, Uruguayans and luscious recently arrived Argentinians. Political commitment fuelled a strong fusion with other lives. In exile, Quique had discovered that the traumatic arithmetic that melded a past and a moustache could function as proof of a set of privileged experiences, as shared as they were private, in the light of whose mysterious shadow the true socialist homeland would always exist, in the hearts of comrades and lovers, as stated in Walt Whitman’s dedication to his readers in Leaves of Grass.

Now the party’s gettin’ started, said Eduardo, who came over swaying with a tray of fritters and quince pie. They’d been made by Comrade Irma, an unemployed cook, for the new swap club that was starting that day. It was customary to put on a bit of music, because it stimulated cohesion. Everyone brought home-made liqueurs, whiskey, grenadine or whatever they had in the house; they listened to songs by ‘Nano’ Serrat, Celia Cruz, Juan Luis Guerra and the occasional Internationale. The fifty-something men paced back and forth, with their little plastic cups and their foreheads creased with thoughts of hope for change; the women waggled to the beat of an image of themselves that was decidedly different from the one they shared with the rest of humanity, making an effort to show that they could be, if not women, at least antidotes to depression.

After a few meetings, one could identify the single women, the separated ones, those inclined towards the pure old in–out, and the stuck-up ones who liked to play hard to get, at least for a while, like Mara’s mother.

But now the neighbourhood assemblies were dwindling and the swap club founded by Eduardo and Quique was about to shut down.

The revival of the little things in life, that had so benefited him, was proving to be a short-lived paradise; Quique was losing credibility. The re-establishment of political calm kicked him from that Eden where he’d survived with so little, spiritually and economically. Quique’s monetary and professional failure, which in those golden assemblies was read as proof of his honesty, had used up his aliquot of opportunity cost; it was no longer as profitable as before, nor could it easily be reconverted into honesty capital. For the moment, he had no doubt that Cris would let him live at her house. It was probably unlikely they’d give him a compensation settlement for exile, he had certainly never been officially active in any political organization; but Cris believed that Quique was expectantly awaiting the arrival of recognition from the state, and he announced that he would take Mara’s room to set up his study, even though he slept all day long.

Or at least that was the impression Mara got, when she went into her old room and found him splayed out on her ex-bed, with a book by Levinas open on his chest like a dead bird. The creaking of the closet door woke him up.

‘Oh, Mara, what a way to find me.’ Quique flashed a combination of cigarette stains and saliva, grabbing the book. ‘You see how these French guys are. Sometimes they just knocked you out cold.’

Mara turned her back on him and started stuffing T-shirts into a bag. Quique put a bookmark into the book and checked out her ass. It was different from her mother’s, but not that different. He adjusted his glasses.

He could smell the aroma of Mara’s body; she smelled different, different from all the others. Quique remained on the bed. Isn’t imagination something? thought Quique. Everything is there and not there at the same time, todo paasa y tooodo queeda, pero lo nuestro es pasar, pasar haciendo caminos, caminos sobre la maaar[*]. Suddenly something in Quique darkened, as if storm clouds were reflecting on the brown waters of his understanding: what a proletarian organ, the ass, the organ you sit on, and even though it seems to work and have working-class awareness, it’s really just waiting to die. I should say something, he said to himself, I should say something so it doesn’t look like we’re alone.

‘Hey, Marita, did your mom tell you that Rodrigazo and I went to the same high school?’

Like in a soap opera by Manuel Puig, Mara folds a piece of clothing and lifts a face devoid of expression. Her mind is filled with images and memories that she could have lived, or not: in the mental films we call thought, memory and imagination are usually the same operation. Rodrigazo must be Silvia’s ex. Silvia was a friend of Cris’s from college who was kidnapped in Campo de Mayo and now lived in Spain. Mara had never met her, she only knew her as another chapter in her mother’s never-ending story: Imagine, poor thing, they had killed her lover, her comrade in the struggle, and she was locked up there, they only took off her hood to stick some crap into her mouth or so she could kiss him – him and only him. She was a lovely girl, a cute little blonde, not very tall, but very pretty. Well, what happened was that Jaguar Gómez took her for his lover and, well, you can imagine, there was no way out of it. He was a dark, ugly guy, very hairy, with one of those Andean faces that make you just want to run away the minute you see them, but that Jaguar, he was fierce, you’d shit your pants just looking at him. Besides, he was the big boss of the task forces, so you can imagine how powerful he was. And with him all gung-ho, you couldn’t say no to him; you had to do everything he said. Believe me, Mara, if I had had to sleep with a guy like that to save you and your brother, I would have done it, don’t you doubt it for a second.

Mara closed the bag with a tug, frightening away images.

Meanwhile, Quique hovered over her with two expectant arms, like a goalkeeper waiting for a penalty kick.

It would have been easy for Mara to get rid of that walking, trouser-wearing symptom of her mother’s depression. Cris would never have tolerated him making a move on her daughter like that; spite would have swept her up in waves of fury that Quique (half drowned, adrift) would be unable to surf; wipe him out, make him disappear forever, John Doe, kaput. But Mara didn’t feel like doing her mother any favours; she didn’t want to get that close to her. Her most recent Oedipal pretext, Horacio, was a journalist friend of her mother’s. Horacio had written for the magazine Fierro for a while; with the return of democracy he got a post as Inspector of Potholes and devoted himself to investigative journalism. One night in her room, after having sex with him, Mara made a brusque movement and kicked him out of bed, literally. The guy ended up on his knees in front of her, exposed and vulnerable. Mara sat up calmly, without looking at him, and lit a cigarette.

‘Why did you do that?’ he asked.

‘Because I felt like it,’ she answered.

He gave her a slap that sent her cigarette flying, and she stood up furious, her nostrils defiantly flared. He slapped her again; then she ran into the master bathroom and pulled the bolt across. She curled up beside the bidet and waited. She was waiting for him to come looking for her, to kick down the door amid hissing threats; when she sat on the cold floor she realized she was all wet. Then she heard the elevator grille open and close.

That episode with Horacio was a few days before the pot-banging protests started. Mara remembered it perfectly. Her mother had come into the apartment like a whirlwind, her eyes ablaze (the way her friend’s eyes, the one imprisoned in Rawson, got when she described the FAR leader with a shotgun in his hand and that incredible thing shining in his eyes, when he came to free her as she waited curled up and trembling in her cell). Turn on the TV, Mara, the uprising is here, everyone’s out in the streets (you heard it from your mother first).

Fifteen floors below, a brightly coloured, flattened animal came in and out of focus against the asphalt. From the windows of nearby buildings, where other people were sticking their heads out, came metallic flashes that climbed the walls and made the street throb. Mara went back into her mother’s room, where she was now pulling clothes from the closet and spreading them on the bed. Where are you going? Should I be packing too? No, Mara, how could we leave now? We have to be here to support the people who are out there expressing themselves. Fleeing is for cowards. All this time enduring and enduring and suddenly the will of the people prepares for battle and lifts its fist in the air. What do you think? I can’t decide between the denim skirt or should I go with the linen pants, more sober? It was nine at night; the news of the looting in Greater Buenos Aires alternated with updates of avenues blocked by indignant citizens throughout the capital, contorted faces breaking shop windows and Chinese supermarket owners trying to defend themselves. The city was synchronized in a single rhythmic pulse; finally, Cris went for jeans and sneakers.

’Cos when you start fucking with the middle class, there’s no turning back, reflected Mara’s mother as she banged on her stainless-steel saucepan along Avenida Coronel Díaz. Her political analyses mingled with those of other ‘girls she knew’, women her age with whom she had coincided at the dry-cleaner’s some time or another, without the slightest interaction. Mara went beside her; walking where the cars usually go reminded her of the ’90 World Cup held in Italy, and of her father waving a blue-and-white flag. All around you could see peaceful crowds walking in the same direction, some with their dogs, who barked excitedly or shat placidly in flower beds. People chatted with those beside them, keeping the melody of the pot banging. The street vendors’ kiosks were open; looking up, you could see more windows ablaze with people waving their metal conductors of political heat. Mara was worried some crazy bus driver would take the opportunity to ‘express himself’ and kill hundreds of people. There were no police on the streets.

Columns of demonstrators headed to the Congress and the Plaza de Mayo along the city’s main boulevards. At Santa Fe and Riobamba, Mara met up with a schoolmate, Lucía. They hadn’t seen each other in a long time; Mara forced the encounter by heading towards her – fearing that, if she didn’t, Lucía would do everything possible to avoid her. Lucía told her that she had just come back from Bolivia, where ‘the rural situation is at a tipping point’. She worked taking pictures for an independent journalism NGO. The photographer she worked with came up again and again in the story, it was clear that Lucía could talk about him for hours. Mara listened to her eagerly; she had always had a delightful way of explaining events and falling in love with people. Lucía checked her watch; there were people waiting for her. Mara exaggerated her meekness when she said she wanted to go with her, quickly explaining that she had to get away from her mother, so the decision to walk together became more a question of Lucía’s altruism than of Mara’s desire, and Lucía agreed. They walked through shouts, drumming, columns, security fences; when they got to the Congress, Lucía closed her hand around Mara’s arm: Careful, said Lucía, it’s a death trap.


The high point of Mara and Lucía’s relationship took place one summer in Buenos Aires. They got together every day in Lucía’s house with another friend, Liti, a very pale, tall girl with dark hair who looked like some kind of punk Marilyn Monroe. At six, when Lucía’s mother came home from work and the light that fell on things tinged violet, they would split up. They talked the entire time; they had so many things to tell each other! They shared information on the pressing universe that hovered, lying in wait for the right moment to pounce on them. Everything seemed to indicate that: at the age of twelve, they had entered the piss-filled waters of a summer camp swimming pool where the boys were playing shark, trying to reach them beneath the water so they could then emerge to the triumphant shout of ‘I touched it.’ Questions such as: When is it OK to touch their balls? What is the perineum, and where exactly is it located? held their attention. Gradually, the speed of their phrasing changed, and the theories about sex were mixed with stories of fear.

Liti’s parents were in the ERP, the People’s Revolutionary Army; Liti kept a mental image of her mom, pregnant, running across a field beneath bullets in Ezeiza. Her father never confirmed it, but she was sure, something told her that ‘he’d shot down a few’. Lucía’s parents met as activists in the Christian Youth movement, in a slum where they taught the catechism; they never entered the armed struggle but accepted the responsibility of housing various guerrilla friends who later died or fled. Most of the kids in her high school were children of former militants; in some cases their parents had been enemies, for belonging to the Peronist Youth movement (Lucía’s boyfriend’s father) that sent others (Mara’s future boyfriends or their fathers) to the front. Or parents that negotiated with leaders (army leaders or guerrilla leaders), leaving the rest unprotected, like the notorious father whose wife was freed in exchange for a list of comrades-in-arms (alleged parents of classmates). Lucía had gone to a Catholic elementary school in Belgrano, where there were a lot of daughters of military men; she had a friend, Mariu, who had been raised by her grandparents, an army colonel and his wife. Mariu said that her parents had died in a car accident, but the rumoured version was that her mother, the colonel’s daughter, had fallen in love with a guerrilla. Knowing they were in danger, they handed over their two little girls to their grandparents for safe keeping; later the couple was kidnapped. Her grandfather had told Mariu that her parents considered themselves soldiers, that his daughter had told him that after stealing his weapons and the military uniform he kept at home; ‘I wanted to protect them and they didn’t let me.’ The grandfather was ashamed and in torment. Even with all that, what Mariu most liked to do as a child was ride around in a tank, but you couldn’t mention it without people feeling sorry for her or insulting her grandparents, either behind her back or to her face. Every detail was a coherent beam of light that fell in with others, like lasers of love and brutality that allowed them to attend the torrid scenes of their own births. They were the bookish daughters of a strange literary country, populated by monsters of serious prose and Gothic facundos illuminated beneath an overcast sky. Just as tragedy brightens Antigone’s moral beauty, those stories exalted the miracle of their very presence; it made them stand out as pure and individual beings, born of a national aristocracy of fire and bravery; like girls smearing their faces with mud to scare each other, they watched in fascination how cruelty transformed into astonishment on their own mouths and expressions.

Mara still missed that summer. In fact, she wanted to hug Lucía and tell her that she looked beautiful; but the crowd pushed them towards a narrow corner, on a street adjacent to the Congress, and she saw that Lucía was getting paranoid. Mara felt like she was bursting with joy: at least they were together in a riot!

‘No, not this way,’ Lucía had said. In the presence of danger, she had touched her. ‘With this many people, it’s a death trap.’

In the mobbed streets, everything was black with bodies. They could barely make out facial expressions; noisy shadows surrounded them, setting their muscles in a state of alert. Mara stood on tiptoe to see further; they were hundreds, in every direction, hundreds followed by thousands. She prayed for the cavalry to come and chase them; she would take Lucía by the hand and they would escape. Lucía’s expression was tense and expectant; she still had Mara by the arm. They were both afraid and excited.

Around them there were expressions of anguish, with peaks of euphoria and excitement. Old ladies shouted curses at the politicians leaving their offices, out of step with the general melody; those contributions were quickly syncopated, levelled out by the force of the whole. Teenagers in scruffy T-shirts pogo-danced through the crowd. Others just followed the beat happily and chatted with those beside them; youthful anxiety cast them into the front rows, curious about the possibility of a police confrontation. The atmosphere was glorious, and there was no shortage of remarks such as: ‘Look how many of us there are, more than a hundred thousand. If just a third of us took up arms, we could take over the country.’

Mara spotted the troupe of stencillers made up of Powa, Toni and two blond guys who were pretty cute. They were surrounded by female satellites with crew cuts and May of ’68­style berets. After midnight, spirits were running high and the throng crowded against the railings that surrounded the Congress building. The girls climbed up on the shoulders of Powa and one of the cute blond guys; in that moment they pulled out their mini DV cameras and started filming each other participating in the social protest. The girls were shouting and raising their fists, saying things like ‘Hey ho, let’s go’, ‘Charge’ and other phrases of celebratory slang usually associated with football; the boys were holding them up and looking at the camera. Then Toni got on another friend’s shoulders and kissed one of the girls against the background of popular struggle. It was a pretty postcard; as she looked at them jutting out over the people, Mara remembered that Toni longed for another catastrophe, with the backdrop retouched: his dream was to swing from vine to vine over a Jurassic Buenos Aires of tropical forests and rusted iron structures, destroy this corrupt capitalist system for once and for all, go back to being animals, Mara, hang from the trees!

Toni’s Neanderthal utopia maintained a little Marxist heart, with a streak of the ecological anti-globalization vogue used in Europe to while away the dull hours; Mara was too much of a snob to tolerate it. Lucía watched them, somewhat distant, without making any rash comments that could cloud the purity of popular expression.

That was when Mara spotted her mother. She was chatting with Jerom, one of Powa’s cronies, tall, dark-haired and attractive, with a slight reputation for filming girls he slept with. Cris was laughing too much, her mouth increasingly closer and more open. Mara knew what that meant, in the same way a moon rock is attached to its heavenly body before being hacked out violently. The recently arrived hordes pushed her; they were teenagers pogoing to the shouts, and a couple of columns of the MAS. Mara squeezed Lucía’s hand tightly and closed her eyes, imagining horses in the distance bucking in place, held back by the firm arm of the law mounted on their backs; they could let loose the reins at any moment; Mara couldn’t wait.

Her mother and Jerom saw each other again at the Palermo popular assembly; Jerom had gone to check it out because he lived nearby. Cris came along with him to paint some stencils; she held up the plate and Jerom pressed the aerosol. The operation destroyed her nails but it didn’t matter, she was delirious. Mara did her best to avoid finding out more details about her mother’s new hobbies – but certainty is a frisky little bunny that persists in being captured – and it wasn’t long before they were all three having breakfast together in the kitchen. Jerom presided over the table buck naked, because it was hot; his lack of hygiene exalted his masculinity. Somewhat convulsive due to her happiness, Cris heated up the kettle, anxious.

Mara sat at the table in silence. Jerom immediately read the scene and sprawled himself out in his chair, winking an eye at Cris; any comment he made would be an explanation; he didn’t owe anyone explanations.

‘We were painting some stencils with Cris.’

‘You should have seen them, so beautiful!’ Cris’s voice sounded more shrill than usual. ‘They’re so much better, more detailed.’ She paused; the idea had come out half-baked. ‘Than graffiti, I mean.’

Cris immediately served Mara some mate. Mara restrained herself from touching it, afraid of replicating her mother’s agitated psychomotor state.

‘If you’re interested,’ and Jerom seemed interested, ‘you could come with us. We have commandos covering different areas of the city; Powa and the guys organize them. Sometimes we’re in dicey spots, other times it’s quieter. Always at night, when there’s better cover and it’s more obscured. We go out in groups of three or four per car. We do the stencil, document the scene with photos and in mini DV, and then we get all the material together at the Cyborga, that’s Powa and the guys’ lair.’

‘Aha. And what kind of things do you paint?’ Mara already knew; they had slept together a few months ago, but he had clearly forgotten that.

‘Things against Bush, against imperialism, war, capitalism, all that,’ answered Jerom, who hadn’t forgotten for a minute.

‘It’s incredible how everything comes back around again, isn’t it?’ Cris rested her elbows on the table, looking at both of them. She felt more secure when repeating familiar phrases. ‘I mean, a few years back, we were fighting for the same things. Look at them now, the kids of the new generation, in an all-out popular rebellion, backing the demos, struggling to make a more just world. Kinda blows my mind, you know?’

‘The protest now is pacifist and yours wasn’t. There’s a world of difference. Besides, this demo is pure bourgeois self-defence,’ said Mara.

‘That has nothing to do with it,’ Cris said angrily, shifting her hair a little bit, attentive to Jerom’s actions. ‘Every era has its own discourse, but the important thing is the essence, which is breaking with individualism and working for a better world, or are you going to disagree with that too? Everything came real easy for you because you were born here, not a care in the world, and I could pay for you to have an education, a fitting social environment, but there are other people who never had what you had, you understand?’

‘And what does that have to do with it?’

‘All I’m saying is that if you had fought for other people’s right to study, eat, work and other things, then you’d understand there’s a big difference between living so comfortably and selfishly, and trying by any means necessary to help others, in any way you can, with weapons or with your teeth, if need be, if that’s what the historical moment asks of you.’

Cris sipped her mate. In the end she had raised her voice a bit; it’s true, but what could she do? She was dynamic, passionate, she told herself. Her speech, however, didn’t appear to have convinced Jerom. While Mara grumbled that all fascisms promoted the highest ideals to justify violence (Bush brandished values of freedom and democracy), Cris noticed that Jerom seemed to be nodding his head in agreement. Cris prepared another maté and took it over to Jerom. Jerom brought his mouth to the straw, without looking at her.

Bitterly, Cris remembered that course on Emotional Capital and Neuro-Linguistic Programming she took in ’99. Tone, micro-rhythm and blinking speed served as empathy’s transmission tubes, the means of contagion of shared ideas; later, these ideas grow until they become ‘life perspectives’. Was she becoming unable to give and receive? She remembered her teacher, Sami Wasskam, and how he’d controlled her empathy once by using those biorhythms. Sami had been a jackass, too. She never would have screwed him if it weren’t for him controlling her biorhythms that way. Ugly, that’s what he was; ugly and beneath her. Out of control, Cris’s smile faded for a few seconds; disappointed, she realized that it no longer mattered what she had to say. To quote Sami, the what didn’t matter any more, only the how. The technique for navigating modern certainties eluded her; Jerom was no longer talking to her; in fact, he didn’t even seem to register her presence.

On the opening day of the swap club, Jerom arrived at the neighbourhood assembly with a Japanese girl who had pink hair and
– surprise, surprise – tits, which are rare in Orientals. Cris had seen her hanging around the stencil commandos: she laughed frequently, but also knew how to keep quiet and open her slanty eyes wide when spoken to, as if the words entered better through her eyes than her ears. Jerom’s self-satisfied behaviour bore witness to the fact that getting her into bed hadn’t been difficult for him; the little Chink must be photogenic. While Quique and his cronies passed out the quince pie, which Jerom and that Chink hadn’t even wanted to try, Cris realized that her romance with the new guerrilla modalities was over, without much fanfare.

Among other disappointments that summer, the dreaded Cavalry Regiment and their praetorian guards never arrived. A few nights would pass before they condescended to wield the incandescent beam of brute force, tossing tear gas and flaunting their hunger for innocent people, machine guns at the ready. The marches in December weren’t as much fun as before; dissolved into the crowd, the magic of her encounter with Lucía soon faded away. Mara made mental plans to go look for her at the Workers’ Party meetings, at the headquarters in Balvanera where that photographer she was into went, but never actually did it.



[*] From ‘Cantares’, a song by Joan Manuel Serrat, based on a poem by Antonion Machado. This first verse says, ‘Everything goes and stays, but out lot is to go, making paths as we go, paths through the sea.’

The Place of Losses
The Hotel Life