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Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

Translated by Katie Jacoby

I was taken aback when I learned that she had committed suicide. Fourteen years before, we had promised to let each other know when we made that decision. That was during our college days, back when we lived from one depression to the next, those sorrows being precisely what had brought us close. We reveled in our talks about loneliness and the futility of life, and we patted ourselves on the back for all kinds of sophisms. We would stay up all night crying inconsolably over a bottle of wine while listening to music or reciting poetry. We read of Werther and he became our lone hero. Sometimes we would also read María Mercedes Carranza’s poems. We would talk about the different ways to die, from the most painful and bloody options to simple carbon monoxide, making our way through the most distressing methods. Be it by letter or phone call, we decided that we would inform the other when we finally made the fatal decision; I received neither letter nor call. After college, we fell more and more out of touch. Years later, she told me she was getting married. I didn’t attend the wedding.

It was a friend of ours from the university who told me about her suicide. I happened to run into him in the street, and the first thing he said to me was, “Did you hear about Andrea?” Seeing me shake my head, he dropped the news on me together with fourteen years’ worth of memories, memories so intense that they knocked me over. I refused to ask for details, nor did I let him tell me them. I felt sick. The last thing I’d heard from her was that her marriage was going swimmingly. Her getting married had been another broken promise; we had sworn to never marry. I thought to myself that she very well could have gone ahead then and committed suicide after all, that the whole deal about the promises had been from a time long behind us, and that I was the only sucker still living in those memories.

That night I went to the bar that we used to go to all the time during our days of mutual turmoil. Sure enough, the bar had the same message for me: “Everything changes: places, things, and people alike.” It still had the same name and location, but the management had changed. The tables and chairs had been moved around, now arranged as if in position for battle, ready to attack the memories and nostalgia of the former regulars who came back to visit. Still, I stayed, it being the place where I had the most memories of her. That night I got drunk and wept. Tormented, I felt that I couldn’t take any more. Everything hurt, much more than the old aches ever had. I felt like a coward for still being alive, but I hadn’t broken my promise, and that was one thing I couldn’t forgive her for: her failure to keep her word. Her words still felt warm in my mind: “I’ll let you know the day I decide to kill myself.” So, what happened, Andre?

I cried harder, despising everything. I had every intention of killing myself. But it wasn’t the right time yet; there was still a lot to remember about her. I wondered what her marriage must have been like. I saw it pass through my mind in a second’s time: the proposal would have been first, then the “yes,” later the wedding night, followed by the children, and of course at every turn the promises and the past utterly forgotten. I remember that she once called to ask me if I wanted to be the godfather of her first son. I was drunk—I was always drunk in those days—and I remember that I asked her why she thought her children were anything to me. Yes, the children and the happy marriage served to blot out the promises, immersing her in a life very distinct from the one of our youth. Our friends from college would tell me how well Andrea’s life was going for her, that she had really won the lottery with that husband of hers, and that her two kids were absolute darlings, especially the older one. I left the bar, swearing that I’d never return because of its betrayal of the past, and decided to go to another bar unconnected to her, wanting to think about her in a different place. With every glass of wine, I cursed her over and over again. “What happened to your charmed life?” I screamed. I knew that her suicide didn’t have anything to do with the past because she had betrayed it; I also knew that there couldn’t have been any remorse for having betrayed that past because you don’t feel remorseful over something you’ve completely forgotten.

After college, I called her on various occasions to tell her that I was finally ready to go through with it. And she would tell me to be mature, that if I was going to stay stuck in that phase all my life, I needed to grow up. And I would tell her through tears that fine, I wouldn’t do it then, I’d grow up. So, what happened, Andre?

I feel that I did stay in that past, and everything from that time still surrounds me. I didn’t move on. I still remember when I met Andrea Arenas, later Andre, later Doctor Arenas, later Mrs. Ramírez, but I have very few recollections of those last two, hardly knowing them. Ah, what a despicable way for you to treat our past, Andre. Andre, I’ve always remained faithful to the past, continued in my sensibly senseless bohemia, in my teary depressions, kept navigating the lagoons of cheap wine. Andre, if you only knew how much I long to end my life, but you’ll see that I keep my promises. I’m faithful to our past. I can’t call you, can’t write; I just remain with this desire to kill myself. Oh, Andre; oh, my Andre—why?

Felipo Zaná

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