Uxue Alberdi / Fiction, 2015



translated by Nere Lete (read about Nere on our staff page)

English translation followed by original Basque



Literary Dystopias

This story was first published published in 2013 in Basque as part of a collection of short stories, “Euli giro” (Time of Chagrin)

The building was old but affordable. It had been constructed long ago, a couple of blocks from downtown, next to an engineering school that had known better days. The student residence was managed by nuns, though there were hardly any devout students left in the city any more.

“Your new roommate,” announced an old, scrawny nun, knocking on the door and opening it at the same time without giving me time to respond.

I noticed the girl’s glasses. They looked like mine, but a little lighter-toned, honey-colored, and with thick frames. The type of old-fashioned, big glasses that were usually worn by old men with the newspaper reading habit, but a few years later would become trendy among students.  The girl, although she looked my age, suffered from presbyopia and myopia and used bifocal lenses.

When she entered the bedroom she showed no special interest in me. Without even acknowledging my presence, she placed her small leather suitcase on the unoccupied bed. She sighed as she sat. She looked tired. She glanced for a moment at my books aligned on the shelf, but did not utter a word.

“If the light bothers you at night, I won’t read,” I said in an attempt to welcome her in a friendly manner.

She made a face that I could not interpret as approval or rejection. She did not unpack her suitcase. Instead, she stowed it in the closet, unopened. She fixed her hair and left as abruptly as she had appeared, without a word.

There were about two hundred students living at the residence. Many of us had been there for two or three years. It was unusual to have new girls come after the school year had begun, except for out-of-town students who happened to be new to the city.

At dinnertime, I searched for her among the girls but could not find her. I stepped out to the patio to smoke a cigarette. Like every night, I read until sleep overtook me. I awoke in the wee hours of the morning with a neck ache. When I reached over to pick up the book from the floor that had slipped from my hands in the night, I glanced at the other bed. The bedding was undisturbed: she had not slept in it. It was strange, because the nuns always locked the building doors at ten-thirty at night. Often, I barely made that curfew on Wednesdays due to my evening student activities. Had she been locked out?

I saw her again the following evening after I returned from the university.  I found her sitting on the bed, knees pressed together. When she saw me, she draped a linen robe to cover her white underwear.

I stretched out my hand. “Martina,” I introduced myself.

“Joana,” she replied.

I noticed that she had filled her bookshelf to the rafters. There were two cardboard boxes left on the floor, still half-full.

“Are you from out-of-town?” I queried.

“From the interior of the province,” she nodded, but did not volunteer any further specifics.

I asked her why she had come two months after the school year had already begun.

Slowly she answered, “I lived with my grandfather close to the city. He passed away last week and his siblings have decided to sell his place.”

“I’m sorry,” I countered.

I did not ask her how she managed to pay for her lodging at the residence or about her previous night’s whereabouts. Something told me that we would get along better if I kept to myself.

I sat down to write a paper that was due the following day. I could hear Joana’s soft breathing behind me. As if someone had smuggled a cat into my room, I felt the comfort of a tiny, discrete presence near me. Joana truly occupied a small space, and she moved slowly and carefully, unlike the people from the interior of the province. That night we did not go down to dinner. My paper got more complicated than I had expected, and Joana was not hungry. She did not seem to have a good appetite, for she was nothing but skin and bones.

“What is it about?” she asked me.

Without looking up, I said, “Literary dystopias.”

She let me be. I’m not sure how long into the night I worked. When I finished, I noticed that she had fallen asleep on the unmade bed. She was only wearing that childish white underwear. I covered her with a blanket.

“Martina!” she cried.

She was shaking my arms when I opened my eyes, and I asked with confusion, “What’s the matter?”

It took my eyes a few seconds to adjust to the shapes in the darkness. The illuminated clock radio displayed four-twenty in the morning.

Joana was sweating. I had not shut the blinds when I went to bed and her pale skin gleamed under the reflection of the streetlights through the window.  She exclaimed with fear, “Benoit followed me.”

I sat up in my bed and motioned to her to turn on the light on the nightstand, but she stopped me, gasping, “No!” She was looking out to the street. I put on a sweater and inched toward the window.

She whispered, “Is he there? Do you see a black car?”

I was about to tell her “No,” but then I spotted an old-fashioned black car on the street behind the garden. From where I stood, I was unable to tell if there was anyone inside it. I was about to walk up to Joana when the car headlights turned on. It drove off slowly, down the bridge that was adjacent to the engineering building.

I told Joana, “It’s gone.” She brought her hands to her face, shaken. I offered her some water.

I knew that, even after the ceasefire, they were arresting people, mostly youth. They hid in apartments and in abandoned farmhouses. Joana did not look like any militants I knew but, indeed, this could be her cover. That would explain her sudden presence at the student residence, her clandestine night outing, and her tight-lipped discretion.

I queried Joana, “Who’s that guy? Is he a policeman?”

She looked at me surprised, and replied, “No, not at all.”

I waited for an explanation. She began pacing the room, as if desperately searching for a solution.

I pressed further, “What does he want from you?”

She broke into laughter while she twirled her hair with her fingers. She took off her glasses and waved them in the air, blurting out, “Ideas! Ha!” Her small body folded like that of an invertebrate insect.  “Ideas!” she laughed uncontrollably. “But I need some more time, a day, two…”

She returned to her old self and recovered her soft, feathery voice. She put on her robe, sat on the bed, and stressed, “You must go in my place.”

“Where?” I asked. I didn’t understand anything she had said.

“You know how to write, don’t you?” she asked, as if accusing me of something. “I saw your books: Proust, Némirovsky, Chékhov, Zola, Duras… Do you write?”

“Yes,” I admitted. It was the first time I had made such a confession.

Joana shook her head and replied, “Benoit is going to like you. I knew it from the very instant I saw you. You are young and talented. It’s obvious.”

I felt my ego swell in my chest. I then thought of the black car, though, and how it darted stealthily through the night when I approached the window.  Half curious, and half afraid, I asked her, “Who’s Benoit?”

Bluntly, she replied, “The editor.” She took a pen from her purse and scribbled quickly. “The appointment is tomorrow night. You must go to this address at ten o’clock sharp,” as she handed me the piece of paper. “You won’t find a better editor. At the university, they won’t teach you half of what he will. They couldn’t care less about literature. Have you ever seen any professor whose anger rises through his veins while he reads? Do even one of those state employees sweat while writing a poem on the board? They don’t, do they? They are worthless to you. I saw you biting your lip while you were avidly copying down a passage from the novel, What a New World. You didn’t go down to dinner. Hunger, loneliness, fury! There you have it, the three fundamental pillars of literature!”

“I have never been published,” I said, as I shook my head.

Joana held my hands in hers, and stressed, “Who cares? I’m talking about literature! Rest. You need to be ready for tomorrow.”

She got in bed. Once again, her soft breathing, like a cat purr. She fell fast asleep. I decided that we needed to have a talk in the morning. She needed to clarify some things for me.

In the morning, however, Joana was nowhere to be found. Her bed was made. Her books were still on the shelves. I opened the closet and her suitcase was there. I released the two latches and opened the lid. It was full of clothes: two more linen robes, white underwear, a pair of jeans, and a brown wool sweater.

I was getting tired of all the mystery, and realized it was getting late! It was almost eight-thirty in the morning, and I had to hurry. My paper was due within the hour.

The monotonous course lectures of my professors seemed duller than ever that morning. I gazed at my classmates, some of whom were taking meaningless notes so time would pass faster. Joana’s words reverberated in my mind:  “Hunger! Loneliness! Fury!” I knew no one in this city who spoke like that.

After lunch, I went to visit Mother. She worked at a seamstress workshop behind a toy store. She was one of the few artisan-embroiderers left in the region.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, happily surprised.

I kissed her and realized that I hadn’t touched her in a long time. Her cheek felt warm. “I just wanted to see you,” I told her.

We had a cup of coffee and she gave me a wool cap as a gift. “To keep your ears warm.” Mother, unlike Father, liked my short hair. She said it made me be freer. When I cut my chestnut-colored, shoulder-length hair, Father scolded me. “You must think you look pretty,” he scoffed, and then refused to talk to me for the next two weeks. I asked Mother to give Father a kiss from me, and left after I said goodbye.

I walked back to the residence along the riverbank. While strolling through the park, the dry tree leaves folded under my steps without crumbling. I succeeded in taking a nap that afternoon in the room, but, when I awoke, I felt furious. Joanna was still gone. I wanted her to tell me about Benoit. What was I supposed to tell him when I met him? What was I supposed to say if he asked me about Joana? What was I supposed to do once I arrived at the address Joana had scrawled on that piece of paper?

I decided to leave before dinner, when the students headed out to the evening program. I put a pen and a notebook in my purse. Since I had time to spare, I went to a well-known bar in the old part of town and I ordered the usual. It comforted me to see that most customers were drinking alone.

On my way out, I pulled the piece of paper that Joana had given me out of my pocket. The address was on the far end of the city, much too far to walk so I decided to take the bus. When I got off the bus, I asked a black woman who was holding a sleepy toddler in her arms for directions. She explained that I had to walk three more blocks. It was a plain neighborhood, packed with middle-sized, gray, unadorned apartment buildings. The place was located between two industrial buildings. I rang the doorbell and waited.

A lanky woman with her hair pulled back into a thin ponytail opened the door. “Come in,” she said, without uttering another word.

As I walked down the corridor, I heard the clacking of her heels behind me. She opened the door to a locker room and handed me a linen robe wrapped in clear plastic.  She instructed, “Once you get undressed, go to the main hall through that door.”

“Thank you,” I replied. I noticed that there were more clothes hanging from hooks. Skirts, pants, stockings, blouses. White underwear. I got naked and put on the robe. I splashed my face with cold water at the sink.

The corridor was an amazing library. The shelves on each side rose to the ceiling. I proceeded until I came to a wide door, marked by a sign: “Main Hall.” I knocked on the door, but no one opened. I decided to go in.

Class had already started. I counted about ten or twelve students, male and female. They were all sitting naked. I hung my robe on top of the other robes, and stood in the middle of the room.

“Martina Fano,” said the man, who surely was Benoit, whom Joana had spoken of. “We were expecting you.”

The students in the room stared at me with curiosity.  Soon, though, they turned their attention back to Benoit’s words. I sat in an empty seat, and felt the cold leather against my buttocks. All of their slim, pale bodies were drenched in sweat. Benoit was sweating too. His shirt was soaked under his armpits, and at the chest. He spoke breathlessly, spitting from his lips.

He spoke with fervor, “You all are mediocre writers: messy, careless! Whose respect do you hope for in exchange for those words? Look at your butts, breasts, faces. What do they contribute to the history of humanity? You think you are special, unique. Look at your flesh. Look at your words! Feeling is not enough! Having a conscience is not enough! Courage is not enough! You, arrogant youth! Let me tell you something: if you like writing about yourselves, do a favor to those who take the time to open books, and shove your pen up your ass.”

He snatched the notebook of a student with tiny breasts and pushed it through a shredder that he kept by his desk. The pages dissolved into shavings. Her chin shivered.

Without raising his voice, he asked, “You don’t believe anything was lost, do you? There was nothing there! Not a single word that was worth reading.”

“But…” moaned the student.

Silence, putain!” he ordered. “Samara!”

Another female student with hair down to her waist stood up. As if she were sitting on an imaginary chair, he made her place her back against the wall while folding her legs in a ninety-degree angle. He bellowed, “Do not move until I tell you that you can.”

She rested her hands on her thighs. Before two minutes passed, she began screaming.

“Now!” he ordered her. “Yesterday’s dialogue!”

The student was writhing in pain, sweating, her hair sticking to her face. “Enough! Enough!” she implored.

He turned and roared, “I told you not to move!”

“Mr. Marvis, I can’t stay still! I’m going to lie down…” the student whimpered.

With force, he cried, “Don’t you move, whore!”

They continued talking until the girl dropped to the floor. Then, Benoit returned to his desk, calmly saying, “Much better, Samara. Much better…”

She rearranged her hair behind her ears, and still naked on the wooden floor, looked up and smiled faithfully at Benoit. She thanked him and returned to her seat.

“Suffering from suffering, madness from madness, sex from sex!” yelled Benoit.

He made a fist and placed it on his chest. His voice calmed down, and insisted, “Now, write.”

The young people dropped their damp bodies on the paper before them and began writing. I began writing too. I felt the fury in my jaw that Joana had mentioned. Benoit sat on a burgundy-colored sofa-chair in front of us. He scrutinized us. I could feel his gaze gliding over my ankles, then to my thighs, and finally, resting on my vagina.

He continued sternly, “Write as if the world was staring at your naked bodies. What are you afraid of?” He began pacing among us. “N’oubliez pas,” he said to the guy next to me, and then, “Humanité, humeur, humilité.”

I felt Benoit’s warm hand on my shoulder. I could tell he was reading the lines I wrote. He brought his head down next to mine. I smelled his stale breath. “Open your legs,” he whispered in my ear. “That’s it, just like that.”

We worked through the night. At sunrise, Benoit ordered us to stop. He smiled. “Very good work,” he said. “Thank you. Now go rest.”

Everyone stood up and formed a line. One by one, each student embraced Benoit, tight and for a long time. “Create a beautiful day for your minds,” he said to each student as he bid farewell to them. When my turn came, he pressed his stomach and groin against my naked body. I felt his slow breath on me, which smelled of wood.

“Thank you, Martina,” he said. “Create a beautiful day for your mind.”

On the morning bus, as I traveled my way back to the residence, I could still feel the warmth in the palms of my hands. A calm happiness inundated me, as if people’s gazes, the scenery, and the morning itself had been filled with meaning. I experienced a similar feeling after going for a run or after a hike in the mountains. It was the pleasure of exhausted flesh, a deep connection with one’s surroundings, and a complete sense of humility. I knew that the pages I carried in my purse were the best I had ever written. I did not feel, though, the urge to show them to anyone. I would visit Mother again in the afternoon, and perhaps Father, to tell him I would once again let my hair grow. I felt a sense of generosity sprouting inside me, of desire for life, and an eagerness to walk in the rain. I kept looking at those on their way to work who were riding their bicycles in the morning mist. I smiled at the sleepy faces of those who stumbled on the bus that morning. I made it to the residence just in time for breakfast, ate, then went to my room. I fell deep asleep.

“Excuse me Martina,” the nun blurted, startled to see me in the room, and asleep in bed.  She quietly stated as she retrieved the small suitcase from the closet, “I’m here to collect Joana Gil’s things.” She then placed the suitcase in a little cart.

“Where did she go?” I asked her, still yawning.

The nun let go of the small cart handle and looked at me earnestly, quizzing. “Don’t you know?”

“What should I know?” I asked.

“Joana is in the hospital. She had a very serious accident last night. God help her, poor girl!”

I stood up, forgetting I was completely naked, and exclaimed, “What happened?”

Solemnly, she said, “An unfortunate accident. She was run over by a car while crossing the street on her way here to the residence.” She crossed herself twice, and asked two other sisters to help remove Joana’s books from the shelves.

It began to hail outside. I put just a few essentials in my backpack. If I could, I would return some other time to get my books.

I took the eastbound train, the one that stopped at each town in the province.

In the city, the headlights of a black car turned on.

Distopia literarioak

This story was first published published in 2013 in Basque as part of a collection of short stories, “Euli giro” (Time of Chagrin)

Zaharra baina merkea zen egoitza. Aspaldi eraiki zuten, garai hobeak ezagututako ingeniaritza-eskola baten ondoan, erdigunetik etxadi pare batera. Mojen ardurapean zegoen, hirian ikasle fededunik apenas gelditzen zen arren.

            “Zure kide berria”, esan zidan moja hezurtsu batek, nire gelako atea kask-kask jo eta erantzuteko tarterik eman gabe ireki zuenean.

            Neskaren betaurrekoei erreparatu nien; nireen oso antzekoak ziren, pixka bat argiagoak, ezti-koloreko armazoi lodikoak. Handik urte batzuetara ikasleen artean boladan jarriko ziren itxura antigoaleko betaurreko handiak, sasoi hartan egunkaria irakurtzeko ohitura zuten agureek janzten zituztenen modukoak. Neskak, nire adin berekoa izanagatik, presbizia eta miopia zituen, foku biko kristalak zerabiltzan.

            Gelan sartu zenean, ez zitzaidan iruditu ni ezagutzeko irrika berezirik zuenik. Diosalik egin gabe, libre zegoen ohearen gainean utzi zuen larruzko maleta txikia. Hasperen baten konpasean eseri zen. Nekatuta zirudien. Nire liburuen apalari begiratu zion une batez, baina ez zuen deus esan.

            — Gauez argiak traba egiten badizu, ez dut irakurriko —harrera atsegina egin nahi izan nion.

            Onarpenezkoa edo gaitzespenezkoa zen esaten asmatu ez nuen keinu bat egin zuen. Ez zuen maleta desegin. Ekarri bezala gorde zuen armairuan. Ilea txukundu eta alde egin zuen supituan.

            Afaritan nesken artean bilatu nuen, baina ez nuen aurkitu. Patiora irten nintzen zigarro bat erretzera. Berrehun ikasle inguru bizi ginen egoitzan, askok bigarren edo hirugarren urtea genuen bertan. Gutxitan gertatzen zen ikasturtea hasiz gero neska berriren bat sartzea, berriki hirira aldatutako atzerritarrak izaten ziren normalean. Gauero bezala, loak garaitu ninduen arte aritu nintzen irakurketan. Ordu txikitan esnatu nintzen lepoko minez. Lurrera eroritako liburua jasotzera makurtu nintzenean jabetu nintzen aldameneko ohea desegin gabe zegoela. Harritzekoa, mojek gaueko hamar eta erdietan ixten baitzituzten egoitzako ateak; doi-doi iristen nintzen asteazkenetan, ikasleentzat programatzen zuten arratsaldeko emanaldira joaten nintzenetan.

            Hurrengo eguneko iluntzean ikusi nuen berriro, unibertsitatetik bueltan. Ohean eserita topatu nuen belauna belaunaren kontra. Ikusi ninduenean lihozko txabusina jantzi zuen barruko arropa zuriaren gainean.

            — Martina —aurkeztu nuen nire burua.

            Bostekoa luzatu nion.

            — Joana —esan zuen.

            Bere aldeko apalategia liburuz goraino bete zuela ohartu nintzen. Lurrean kartoizko bi kaxa zeuden, artean hustu gabe.

            — Atzerritarra zara?

            — Probintziakoa —ez zuen esan nongoa zehazki.

            Egoitzan ikasturtea hasi eta bi hilabetera sartzearen arrazoiaz galde egin nion.

            — Aitonarekin bizi nintzen hiritik gertu. Astebete da hil dela. Haren anai-arrebek etxea saltzea deliberatu dute.

            — Sentitzen dut.

            Ez nion galdetu nola moldatzen zen egoitza ordaintzeko, ezta gaueko ibilerez ere. Zerbaitek esaten zidan hobeto moldatuko ginela galderarik egiten ez banion.

            Hurrengo egunean entregatu behar nuen iruzkina idaztera eseri nintzen. Joanaren arnas hots isila aditzen nuen nire atzean; gelan katu bat sartu balidate bezala, presentzia txiki eta diskretu baten ziurtasuna neukan nigandik gertu. Egiaz toki txikia hartzen zuen Joanak, poliki eta tentuz mugitzen zen, horretan ez zuen probintziakoa ematen. Gau hartan ez ginen afaltzera jaitsi. Uste baino gehiago korapilatu zitzaidan testua eta Joana ez zen gose. Ez zuen apetitu onekoa izateko itxurarik, hezur eta azal zegoen.

            — Zeri buruzkoa da? —galdetu zidan.

            — Distopia literarioak.

            Ez ninduen gehiago molestatu. Ez dakit zenbat denboraz aritu nintzen lanean. Amaitu nuenean, ohe zabaldu gabearen gainean lo zegoela ohartu nintzen. Barruko arropa infantil hura bakarrik zuen soinean. Tapaki batekin estali nuen.

— Martina!

            Begiak ireki nituenean besoa leunki astintzen ari zitzaidan.

            — Zer gertatzen da?

            Segundo batzuk behar izan nituen begiak iluntasunera ohitzeko. Lauak eta hogei markatzen zituen irratiak. Joana izerditan zegoen. Lotarakoan ez nuen sareta jaitsi eta azal zurbilak distira egiten zion kanpoko farolen argitan.

            —Benôit atzetik dabilkit.

            Agondu egin nintzen. Gau-argia pizteko imintzioa egin nuen baina geldiarazi egin ninduen:

            — Ez!

            Kalera begiratzen zuela ohartu nintzen. Jertsea jantzi eta leihora hurbildu nintzen.

            — Hortxe dago? Auto beltz bat ikusten duzu?

            Ezezkoa esateko zorian egon nintzen, baina lorategiaren atzeko kalean aparkatuta antigoaleko auto beltz bat begiztatu nuen. Nengoen lekutik ez nintzen gai barruan inor ba ote zegoen bereizteko. Joanarengana itzultzekoa nintzen autoaren argiak piztu zirenean. Ingeniaritza Eskolaren alboko zubitik barrena urrundu zuen.

            — Joan egin da.

            Joanak aurpegira eraman zituen eskuak. Ur pixka bat eskaini nion.

            — Nor da tipo hori?

            Banekien su-etenaren ostean ere jendea atxilotzen ari zirela, gazteak batik bat. Pisuetan ezkutatzen ziren, baserri abandonatuetan. Joanak ez zuen ordura arte ezagutu nituen militanteen trazarik, baina mozorroa izan zitekeen. Horrek azalduko zukeen egoitzan egun batetik bestera agertu izana, bezperako gaueko irtenaldi klandestinoa, diskrezio erabatekoa.

            — Polizia da?

            Harrituta begiratu zidan.

            — Ez, ezta pentsatu ere.

            Azalpenen zain gelditu nintzen. Gelan alde batera eta bestera hasi zen oinez, irtenbideren baten bila.

            — Zer nahi du zugandik?

            Barre-zantzoka hasi zen bat-batean, eskuaz ilea nahasten zuela. Betaurrekoak erantzi eta airean astindu zituen.

            — Ideiak! Ja!

            Gorputz txikia intsektu ornogabeen moldez tolesten zitzaion.

            — Ideiak! —barre zoroa egin zuen—. Baina denbora pixka bat behar dut, egun bat, bi…

            Lehenera etorri zen, lumazko ahotsa berreskuratu zuen. Txabusina jantzi eta ohean eseri zen.

            — Zuk joan behar duzu nire ordez.

            — Nora? —ez nuen ezer ulertzen.

            — Badakizu idazten, ezta? —esan zidan zerbait leporatu nahiko balit bezala—. Liburuak ikusi ditut: Proust, Nemirovski, Txekhov, Zola, Duras… Idatzi egiten duzu?

            — Bai —onartu nuen, eta aitortza hura egin nuen lehenbiziko aldia zen.

            — Benôitek gustuko izango zaitu. Ikusi zintudan unean bertan jakin nuen. Gaztea zara, talentua duzu, nabaritu egiten zaizu.

            Egoa hestegorritik gora nola igotzen zitzaidan sentitu nuen. Auto beltzarekin oroitu nintzen, nola zeharkatu zuen gaua leihora hurbildu nintzenean.

            — Nor da Benôit delako hori?

            — Editorea.

            Boligrafo bat atera zuen poltsatik.

            — Bihar gauean da hitzordua. Hamarretan puntuan helbide honetara joan behar duzu —papertxo bat eman zidan—. Ez duzu editore hoberik aurkituko. Unibertsitatean ez dizute erdirik ere irakatsiko, bost axola zaie literatura. Ikusi duzu inoiz irakurtzen duen bitartean haserrea zainetara igotzen zaion irakaslerik? Poemak arbelean izkiriatzean izerditzen al da funtzionario horietako bakar bat ere? Ez, ezta? Ez dizute deusetarako balio. Ikusi zaitut ezpainak hozkatzeraino amorratzen, Bai mundu berria nobelako pasartea kopiatzen zenuen bitartean. Ez zara afaltzera jaitsi. Gosea, bakardadea, sumina! Horra hor literaturaren hiru zutabe behinenak!

            — Ez didate sekula ezer argitaratu.

            — Eta nori axola dio horrek? Ni literaturaz ari naiz.

            Eskuak hartu zizkidan bereen artean.

            — Hartu atseden. Biharko prest egon behar duzu.

            Ohean sartu zen. Katu-arnasa berriro. Lo hartu zuen. Goizean hizketalditxo bat izan behar genuela erabaki nuen, kontu asko argitu behar zizkidan.

Baina goizean ez zegoen Joanaren arrastorik. Ohea eginda zegoen. Apaletan jarraitzen zuten liburuek. Armairua zabaldu nuen: han zegoen maleta; itxitura bikoitza askatu eta tapa altxatu nion. Arropaz beteta zegoen: lihozko beste bi txabusina, barruko arropa zuria, blue-jeansak, artilezko jertse marroia.

            Nazkatzen hasita nengoen hainbeste misteriorekin. Ordulariari begiratu nion, zortzi eta erdiak ziren. Mugitu beharra nuen, ordubete baino lehen entregatu behar nuen idazlana.

            Eskoletan, irakasleen jardun monotonoa sekula baino hilagoa suertatu zitzaidan. Ikaskideei begiratu nien. Apunte absurduak hartzen zituzten denbora azkarrago kontsumi zedin. Joanaren hitzak kolpeka nituen buruan. Gosea! Bakardadea! Sumina! Hirian ezagutzen nuen inor ez zen gisa hartan mintzatzen.

            Ama ikustera joan nintzen bazkalondoan. Jostailu-denda baten atzean kokatutako jostun-tailerrean lan egiten zuen; eskualdeko azken brodatzaileetako bat zen.

            — Nolatan zu hemen? —poztu zen.

            Musu eman nion, eta aspaldi haren haragia ukitu gabe nengoela konturatu nintzen. Bero zuen masaila.

            — Ikusi egin nahi zintudan.

            Kafea hartu genuen elkarrekin, eta artilezko txano bat oparitu zidan, “belarriak ez hozteko”. Amak, aitak ez bezala, gustuko zuen nire ile laburra, askeago egiten ninduela esaten zuen. Sorbaldetaraino iristen zitzaidan adats gaztainkara moztu nuenean, “Polit hagoela pentsatuko dun” errieta egin zidan aitak eta bi astez egon zen niri hitzik egin gabe. Nire partez aitari musu bat emateko esanda agurtu nuen ama.

            Ibaiertzetik itzuli nintzen egoitzara. Platanerren hosto iharrak oinpean hautsi gabe tolestu zitzaizkidan parketik igarotzean. Lo-kuluxka bat egitea lortu nuen. Esnatutakoan haserretu egin nintzen Joana oraindik falta zelako. Benôiti buruz hitz egin ziezadan nahi nuen, zer suposatzen zen esan behar niola ikusten nuenean, zer erantzun behar nion Joanari buruz galdetzen bazidan, zer zen papertxoak seinalatzen zuen tokian zehazki egin behar nuena.

            Afalaurretik irtetea erabaki nuen, iluntzeko emanaldira zihoazen ikasleekin batera. Boligrafo bat eta koaderno bat sartu nituen poltsan, oharrak hartzeko erabiltzen nuena. Astia soberan nuenez, alde zaharreko tradizio handiko taberna batean sartu eta uxuala eskatu nuen. Lasaitua eragin zidan bezero gehienak bakarka edaten ari zirela ikusteak.

            Kalerakoan Joanak emandako papertxoa atera nuen patrikatik. Leku hura hiriaren beste muturrean zegoen. Autobusa hartzea deliberatu nuen. Jaitsi bezain pronto pare bat urteko haurra sorbaldan lo zeraman emakume beltz bati galdetu nion helbideaz. Hiru etxadi harantzago joan behar nuela azaldu zidan. Auzo soila zen, garaiera ertaineko etxe gris eta apaindurarik gabeek osatua. Fabrika-itxurako bi eraikinen artean zegoen bilatzen nuen ataria. Txirrina jo eta zain gelditu nintzen.

            Ilea motots estu batean bilduta zeukan emakume luzanga batek ireki zidan atea.

            — Aurrera —esan zidan, deus galdetu gabe.

            Korridorean barrena nindoala, bizkarrean aditzen nuen haren takoi-hotsa. Aldagela bateko atea zabaldu zidan. Lihozko txabusina bat eman zidan plastiko garden batean bilduta.

            — Eranzten zarenean, zoaz areto nagusira horko ate horretatik.

            — Mila esker.

            Aldagelako kakoetan arropa gehiago zeudela ikusi nuen. Gonak, galtzak, galtzerdiak, blusak. Barruko arropa zuria. Erabat erantzi nintzen eta txabusina jantzi nuen. Aurpegia ur hotzez igurtzi nuen konketan.

            Korridorea liburutegi itzela zen, bi aldeetan garaiera izugarria hartzen zuten apalek. Aurrera egin nuen ate zabal baten ondoan “areto nagusia” irakurri nuen arte. Hatz-koskorrekin kolpatu nuen baina ez zidan inork ireki. Sartzea erabaki nuen.

            Eskola hasita zegoen. Hamar edo hamabi neska-mutil zenbatu nituen. Biluzik eta eserita zeuden denak. Txabusina esekitokian utzi nuen besteenen gainean, eta zutik gelditu nintzen aretoaren erdian.

            — Martina Fano —esan zuen Benôit delakoa izango bide zenak—, zure zain geunden.

            Jakin minez begiratu zidaten. Benôiten hitzei adi jarri zitzaizkien berriro. Libre zegoen aulkian eseri nintzen, larru hotza sentitu nuen ipurmasailetan. Denen gorputz argal eta zurbilak izerdi-patsetan zeudela jabetu nintzen. Benôit ere izerditan zegoen, alkandora blaituta zuen besapeetan eta bularrean. Hatsanka mintzatzen zen eta listuak alde egiten zion ezpainen artetik.

            — Idazle eskasak zarete, narrasak, utziak! Noren errespetua nahi duzue hitz horien truke? Begiratu zuen ipurdiak, bularrak, bisaiak. Zer berri dakarte humanitatearen historiara? Bereziak zaretela uste duzue… Bakarrak… Begiratu zuen haragiari; begiratu zuen hitzei… Sentitzea ez da aski! Kontzientzia ez da aski! Ausardia ez da aski! Gazte harrook… Gauza bat esango dizuet: zuen buruez idaztea laketzen bazaizue, sartu luma uzkian eta egiezue fabore liburuak irekitzeko lana hartzen dutenei.

            Bular txiki-txikiak zituen neska baten koadernoa hartu eta idazmahaiaren alboko makina birrintzailean sartu zuen oso-osorik. Txirbil bilakatu ziren orriak. Neskari dardara egin zion kokotsak.

            — Ez duzu usteko ezer galdu denik, ezta? —esan zion ahotsa goratu gabe—. Hor ez zegoen ezer, orri horietan ez zegoen irakurtzea merezi zuen ele bakar bat ere.

            — Baina… —protesta egin zuen neskak.

            — Silence, putain! —agindu zion—. Samara!

            Gerrirainoko adatsa zuen neska bat jaiki zen aulkitik. Eserleku ikusezin batean eserita balego bezala, bizkarra hormaren kontra eta belaunak tolesturik laurogeita hamar graduko angelua osatuz jarrarazi zuen.

            — Ez mugitu nik esan arte.

            Izterretara eraman zituen eskuak. Bi minutu igaro aurretik intzirika hasi zen neska.

            — Orain! —agindu zion—. Atzoko dialogoa!

            Neska erosta batean zegoen oinazez. Izerditan, aurpegira itsasten zitzaion ilea.

            — Aski da! Aski da! —erregutzen zuen.

            — Geldi egoteko esan dizut!

            — Ezin dut gehiago, Marvis Jauna…

            — Segi!

            — Etzatera noa…

            — Geldi, puta alaena!

            Elkarrizketan jarraitu zuten neska lurrera erori zen arte. Gero idazmahaiaren ertzera itzuli zen Benôit.

            — Askoz hobeto, Samara. Askoz hobeto…

            Ileak belarri atzeetan orraztu eta egurrezko zoruaren gainean biluzik zegoen neskak irribarre zintzoa egin zion Benôiti. Eskerrak eman eta bere lekura itzuli zen.

            — Oinazea oinazetik, eromena eromenetik, sexua sexutik! —garrasi egin zuen Benôitek.

            Ukabila estutu zuen bularraren parean. Ahotsa baretu zitzaion.

            — Eta orain, idatzi.

            Gazteek gorputz hezeak paperen gainean etzan eta izkiriatzeari ekin zioten. Ni ere idazten hasi nintzen. Joanak aipatzen zidan amorrua sentitu nuen matrail-hezurrean. Benôit besaulki granate batean eseri zen gure aurrean. Arretaz begiratzen zigun. Haren soa suma nezakeen txorkatiletan, izterretan, aluan.

            — Idatzi mundua zuen gorputz biluziei begira balego bezala. Zeren beldur zarete?

            Gure inguruan paseatzen hasi zen.

            — N’oubliez pas —esan zion nire alboko mutilari—: humanité, humeur, humilité.

            Sorbaldan sentitu nuen Benôiten esku beroa. Idatzi nituen lerroak irakurtzen ari zela suma nezakeen. Nire buruaren parera jaitsi zuen berea, haren hats lehorra usaindu nuen.

            — Zabaldu hankak —xuxurlatu zidan—. Horrela.

            Gau osoan lan egin genuen. Egunsentiarekin eman zigun Benôitek gelditzeko agindua. Irribarre egin zigun.

            — Lan oso ona —adierazi zuen—. Mila esker; zoazte orain atseden hartzera.

            Aulkietatik jaiki eta ilara bat osatu zuten gazteek. Banan-banan besarkatu zuten Benôit, estu eta luze. “Eraiki egun eder bat zure buruarentzat” esanez agurtu zituen denak. Nire txanda iritsi zenean, haren sabela eta hankartea nabaritu nituen nire gorputz biluziaren kontra, arnasketa motela, egur-usaina.

            — Mila esker, Martina —esan zidan—. Eraiki egun eder bat zure buruarentzat.

Goizeko autobusean, egoitzara bueltan, esku-ahurretan berotasuna sentitzen nuen oraindik. Zoriontasun lasai batek zeharkatzen ninduen, zentzuz bete balira bezala begiradak, paisaiak, goiz hura. Korrika egin ostean edo mendian luzaroan ibili ostean izaten den sentsazio horren antzekoa zen, haragi nekatuaren plazera, inguruarekiko elkartasun sakona, umiltasun betea. Banekien poltsan neramatzan orriak sekulan idatzi nituen onenak zirela, baina ez nuen hargatik inori irakurtzeko premiarik sentitzen. Arratsaldean amari bisita egingo nion berriro, eta aitari ere bai akaso, ilea luzatzen utziko nuela esateko. Eskuzabaltasuna erne zitzaidan, bizitzarekiko esker ona, euripean oinez ibiltzeko gogoa. Goizeko ihintzaren gainean lanerantz zihoazen bizikletazaleei begira egon nintzen leihotik. Irribarre egin nien autobusera sartu ziren bisaia logaletuei. Gosaritarako iritsi nintzen egoitzara. Eta loak hartu ninduen.

            — Barkatu, Martina.

            Ezustekoa hartu zuen mojak ohean lo ikusi ninduenean.

            — Joana Gilen gauzen bila nator.

            Armairuko maleta txikia hartu eta orgatxo batean ezarri zuen.

            — Nora joan da? —galdetu nion, oraindik aho zabalka.

            Orgatxoa askatu zuen. Zuhur begiratu zidan.

            — Ez al dakizu ezer?

            — Zer jakin behar dut?

            — Joana ospitalean dago. Istripu oso larria izan du bart gauean. Jainkoak lagunduko ahal dio gajoari!

            Zutitu egin nintzen, erabat biluzik nengoela ahaztuta.

            — Nola gertatu da?

            — Zoritxarreko ezbehar bat. Auto batek harrapatu du egoitzara bidean kalea gurutzatzen ari zela.

            Aitaren egin zuen bi bider. Eta bi ahizpari agindu zien liburuak erretiratzen hasteko.

Txingorra hasi zuen kanpoan.

            Premiazkoa bakarrik sartu nuen bizkar-zorroan. Ahal banuen beste batean itzuliko nintzen liburuen bila.

            Ekialdeko trena hartu nuen, probintzia herriz herri zeharkatzen zuena.

            Hirian auto beltz baten argiak piztu ziren.


RSR picUxue Alberdi Estibaritz
is a writer and an improvisational poet. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of the Basque Country. She has published two short-story collections, Aulki bat elurretan, 2007 (A chair on the snow) and Euli-giro,2013 (Time of Chagrin), and a novel entitled Aulki-jokoa, 2009 (Musical Chairs) among others. She has also published children stories: Ezin dut eta zer? (I can’t do It, so?); Marizikina naiz eta zer? (I’m messy, so?) eta Txikitzen zaretenean (When you shrink)


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