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There’s no such thing as goodbyes

An Argentine journalist who now lives in Copenhagen tells us how her love for national literature led her to meet
Reader's notes
Una periodista Argentina que ahora vive en Copenhague
13 August, 2019

By Maria Fernanda Lago

It started as a game.

One question: who would you love to meet? I answered Ernesto Sábato .

He was 24 years old, a huge love for literature and admiration for the Great Ernesto. A

month after that unimportant question, I was in front of the house of Santos Lugares where Gladys, the woman who accompanied him all day, opened the door to me. That’s how it all started. A talk of more than an hour, a tour of his library and a farewell without an apparent “see you”.

How long it was until the next time I saw him, I really don’t remember, but I never forget the joy of meeting him at Barajas airport, waiting for the same plane with which we would return to Buenos Aires. Yeah, fate wanted us to cross again, and fate disbelieves geography.

From that moment on, sometimes every Sunday and every other Sunday, after arranging by phone with Gladys, I visited him as many times as I could. He arrived with the train on the San Martín line and rang the bell, as if he was traveling to visit my grandfather with whom he shared his passion for art. We had tea with croissants, the talks were never linear, many stories repeated, because Ernesto talked about what he wanted, almost never answered. questions, and remembered the same past stories: the purchase of that house, the former owner who died in the basement, his existentialist friends, his mother, his many brothers, walks through Harrods… and the same jokes and shots I’d never get tired of hearing.

We looked at his paintings, read his books, challenged me to do it without pause, corrected the tones, asked me to advance the part in which John Paul spoke to Mary and while reading his writing he interrupted me (or accompanied me) because his memory had word for word each paragraph of The Tunnel.

There are so many anecdotes left. To have witnessed his intimacy, to know that he was sleeping on a bed against a wall that held his mother’s painting, to have caressed Roque, his dog and faithful companion, dinners with Elvira who said to me: order pizza, and hear them talk about their affairs. There’s no way that the memory doesn’t turn into a long sigh.

Unfortunately I never said goodbye to him, yes I hugged him and held his hands as long as the greeting lasted until soon. I did say thank you, and I looked at him with admiration, and I didn’t think I had him standing in front of him. They fit me.

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