Say Goodbye to That by Carme Manuel by Carme Manuel - Read Online

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Summary

Following the death of her mother, the unnamed heroine of this novel needs to take a long look at herself and decide the kind of future she wants to live in. Bewildered by a world which will never be the same again and a present full of unhappiness, she forces herself to undertake a painful journey into the depths of her soul.
Say Goodbye to That a powerfully described journey which evokes the strong memories and episodes of her childhood; the cruel embraces, the sad dolls, the farmyard dogs, the letters of the alphabet, the mud pies, the dark muttered conversations of her family, the constant repression, the dirty water in the drainage ditches, and the painful casting off of relationships. These memories of a long-lost past, sometimes sweet, sometimes traumatic, but always conditioned by an unquestionable love for her family, will be essential in her quest to be reborn and remade in her new life.
Published: 3i4 edicions on
ISBN: 9788416789672
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SAY GOODBYE TO THAT

Carme Manuel

Translated by Christopher Dennison

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, or as expressly permitted by law, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographic rights organization (CEDRO - www.cedro.org).

© 2013, Carme Manuel

© Translation 2016, Christopher Dennison

© 2016, Tres i Quatre, S.L.

Apartat postal 134

46182 Paterna - la Canyada (València)

tresiquatre@tresiquatre.com

www.tresiquatre.com

Design and typeset: TiQ disseny

ISBN: 978-84-16789-67-2

Digital edition

To my sister

What happened didn’t take me by surprise. Really, I expected some tragedy to block out the sun. It’s logical because it’s almost always been this way. Get something and something else always turns up to cut it in half, and makes me feel cornered. There isn’t one glorious moment in my life that has lasted the stipulated time that happiness should last to be able to enjoy it in selfish isolation.

When I won that composition prize that ended up disrupting my existence, my cousin went under a car while crossing the road. My blurred photo, with my terrified face, which illustrated the story in the newspaper, fell to pieces in my hands in the hospital waiting room. And not to mention what happened when I took the public exam to be a secondary school teacher and passed with the second highest mark out of more than four hundred candidates. My sister failed the university entrance exam and there was nothing but tears and lamentations. Oh, poor thing, so now you have to spend all summer going to an academy, but then you’re used to always having to struggle. The same old litany as always. And me, crestfallen, dragging my feet and my tail and swallowing my malice.

Now could be no different. Now, in what should have been the special moment in which to open my arms and spin around and shout like a mad thing, my mother upped and died.

As always, cornering me. As always, not allowing even an instant in which I could be the star. Getting this promotion, after a whole life of incarceration, was worth nothing less than the maximum sacrifice.

Wasn’t there another time?

Weren’t there other moments?

But no, she had to seize the moment to screw up my life one more time as only she has always known how to do. Because she knows that she’s been the centre and north of my life, that I have been able to put up with any suffering, that I have been able to overlook any absence. But not hers. She did it on purpose. She died on purpose. Just to mess me up. Without realising that I’ve been brooding for ages about putting the counter back to zero.

***

I don’t know if I’m privileged or cursed, but it seems I’m fated never to get over anybody I loved. My father and my mother disappeared with no farewells. Suddenly, without giving any warning signs. Without giving me time to get tired of hours of waiting in hospitals, of phoning doctors, of preparing special food, of buying pills, of praying that the suffering would end quickly, of sighing with relief on feeling the final breath. I haven’t been through any of that.

I’ve lived through the suffering of absence with the disappearance of my father. The well of blackness that it seemed would never end for my mother. The rancour because she dragged me down with her, never letting me raise my head. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. But, with her death and the death of the helplessness within me, I feel strong enough to take up what ages ago I should have done with my life.

With our life.

Yours, Eduard, and mine.

***

The unexpected death of your parents made the Eduard I knew die. I still don’t understand how you were able to give up your past as a beloved son and construct all by yourself, with no help from anybody, a story in which you are the only hero and all the rest of the characters, mere wicked extras, bent on hindering your epic voyage towards glory.

The worst thing is that I was blind from the beginning. I didn’t notice what you had started against yourself and against us.

How you were spinning, like a spider, a fabulous web around you which proclaimed you to be the innocent victim of your origins as the son of a prison officer in a grey and criminal post-war period.

How you’ve been unable to understand that evil and good are all one.

That you’re no longer you, but a spectacular product of your imagination, a pathetic cowed thing for having accepted your fate. Eduard, the liar.

Eraser of memories. I pity you.

What have you got now? Now with no past.

***

We are all alone. My sister and I.

Without her,

Without the Mama warns you to.

Without the Mama doesn’t like it when.

Without the Mama doesn’t think you should.

Without the You don’t take any notice of me and you’ll see.

Without the You don’t know how to speak, only bark.

Without the As a person you’re unbearable.

***

But also without her and her colossal presence, night and day, at all times, good and bad.

Cradle, past and present.

And future.

***

I don’t mind that she went without farewells.

I have branded into me the sensation that what you love is more elusive than anything else.

It must be, perhaps the sentiment nestling inside or the memory of having seen that the world which, until just a few years ago, I had known had crumbled under the violence of the bulldozers. Monsters that advanced little by little, eating the fields and the house.

I don’t mind, because everything I would have said to her, I had already said.

Not with words.

With thoughts that take me back to a time which I had erased vehemently and thought had disappeared forever.

***

As a little girl, which I must have been once, I had dolls but I couldn’t play with any of them. My mother made sure of that.

Plastic dolls, rag dolls, pasteboard dolls.

Dolls with blue eyes, dolls with brown eyes.

Dolls with golden hair and black hair.

Dolls that cried, dolls that made a screech with a cry of Mama.

Dumb dolls, dolls with their eyes wide open and eyelashes painted on one by one.

Six dolls in the bedroom. Six mummies. Cadavers without intestines, without brains, without sentiments. Hair sewn on with sacking needles. Starched dresses. Nails always cut, always clean. Without breasts. Without sex. With nobody to feed them. Nobody to give them a hug.

Two on top of the chest of drawers. One on each side. On the right and on the left. Identical twins. Stiff. In the middle the corpse of a baby Jesus. In a cradle made of tree branches and filled with shavings. The index finger of the right hand pointing towards heaven. The third on the chair. The fourth on the shelf. The fifth on my sister’s bed. Another on my bed. Wavy hair on the pillow, but as stiff as a stick.

Castaways saved from the waters infested by the maternal piranha.

Survivors of the annual massacre orchestrated by my mother.

Heretics escaped from the inquisitorial bonfires.

Chosen from among many others for an eternity of plastic.

I don’t remember when the rite of purification started which she began with me on Saint Joseph’s day and never dared to continue with my sister. I don’t understand how my mother, obsessed by the dolls she never had, could invent such martyrdom. How she had the courage never to think what the consequences of that pitiless act would be.

Playing with dolls is a waste of time, she says.

It’s not an opinion. It’s a universal truth.

There’s no time to play with dolls. With so many other things you need to learn. And dolls don’t teach you anything.

A little over three hundred and sixty-five days to learn that there, in the top of the cupboard, sleep the dolls that the Three Kings bring us every year. The Three Kings always pass by our house. But they stop at my aunts’ place.

There’s no time to play with dolls. There’s only