Kyrta’s mother had written a long text to be read at the ceremony. Nonetheless she said she was unable to read it aloud. Kyrta knew no one else would be able to do it. The text was all about her father’s life story. It seemed so important for her to pay him this homage that she tried to control her feelings and emotions as much as possible. She constantly visualized her father being immensely proud to have her reading his life story without breaking down in tears in the middle of her speech. She succeeded.
Her father had been the only child of a family from Galicia, an area located in the North-West of Spain. The family decided to move to Catalonia before his birth because of better work opportunities than what rural Galicia offered. He had hardly known his own father, who once enrolled in the División Azul, a unit of Spanish volunteers that served in the German Army during Second World War. He fought in the Battle of Stalingrad and came home injured. It was then when Kyrta’s father got to know him, but he died shortly thereafter because of his poor condition.
Kyrta’s father was only seven. Mother and son became economic help from some rich religious families, who allowed the son to study at a good school. Having a strong faith in God and hearing his calling, he became a monk in the monastery of Montserrat. It was the time of Abbot Escarré, a brilliant moment of a high cultural and spiritual value that he had the opportunity to enjoy. Kyrta’s father claimed Montserrrat had been his best education. It was a place where you studied all human disciplines, such as Theology, history, literature, Latin, Greek, philosophy…, nevertheless, a difference of opinion among the monks caused him to leave the monastery. He was an honest man and ethically faithful, but a crisis of faith caused him to leave. From then on, he had to support his mother economically.
Some time after he met Kyrta’s mother, he married her, and they went to Paris where they both witnessed the May 1968 events. Indirectly they became part of them. They saw the student occupation protests against capitalism, consumerism and traditional institutions, values and order. They also witnessed the workers’ strikes and cried because of tear gas in the subways. Money was running out. The border was closed. They went to a monastery in Southern France where a monk took his car and helped them get back to Catalonia.
Soon after Kyrta was born, at that time her father was working at home translating books of philosophy, religion, pedagogy and psychology, all of them originally written in French.Kyrta’s parents were quite revolutionary, at the time, they started to give sex classes, something that was taboo because of Franco’s dictatorship and the Catholic Church serving the regime. Later on Kyrta’s father started to work at the Centre de Càlcul de Sabadell, a company in Barcelona, where he had to interview and select possible workers. With the coming of democracy, after Franco’s death (1975), the first democratic elections in Catalonia and in the whole of Spain were held.
In 1979, Kyrta’s father became a town councilman and belonged to the old PSUC – the Catalan Communist Party – which would later change into the left-wing Iniciativa-Verds, the last word meaning Greens. He was responsible for finance although he would have much preferred culture. However he did his job brilliantly, there was never any corruption, it was a time of illusion and hope, with politicians who tried their best.
During the funeral, Kyrta was reading a summary of the day’s events. From time to time, she was looking at the massive church audience. Many people had loved her father. He had a serious countenance but exuded warmth from inside. She tried to pull herself together.
Again, differing political views caused her father to give up the political life he had dedicated himself. He was fifty-six. Without the help of any contacts, he found a job at the Barcelona Water Company (Agbar) where he retired a number of years after. He had been a good man, highly intelligent and deeply religious, but he had an open mind. He was not a bigot, but an intellectual, a philosopher, someone with very strong ethical values, and for this reason people loved him. Kyrta again experienced sadness, but she was able to finish her eulogy.
Some time later, Kyrta recalled her sitting on the bus with her father and suddenly a woman started to scream. A young man had just stolen her cell phone. Kyrta’s father, who was a retired man of sixty-plus at that time, immediately stood up and saw the young thief. He went straight to him and told him:
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Robbing this poor woman who tries to earn a living and working here as a decent citizen? And you steal her cell phone! Shame on you! Give it back to her now!”
The driver had stopped the bus. The thief, having not foreseen that situation, returned the stolen phone to the woman. Then he got off the bus. The bus passengers were still astonished. No one had been able to react as fast and convinced as Kyrta’s father. She was immensely proud of his courage and sense of human justice. This is how she will always remember her father.
Cremation was what Kyrta’s father had wanted. Lots of flowers had been sent to the funeral home and were brought to the crematorium. Kyrta’s mother, her uncle, aunt and cousin took as many as possible. They looked so lovely that it was a pity to leave them on the ground. The funeral car was loaded with all sorts of flowers. Abel and Carolina were a nice uncle and aunt, who offered Kyrta a lift to pick up the urn with the ashes. It was then when she remembered she had to give money back to her uncle as he had paid for some hospital expenses. Abel was nervous because there was nowhere to park.
“Well, just stay in the car,” Kyrta said, “stop here for a few seconds and I’ll be back.”Kyrta, in a rush, gave him more money than needed and forgot her father’s ashes in the car. My uncle is always so bloody nervous, she was thinking, driving in a car harms him. We could all do without it. Only a six-km distance from here to the crematorium, Kyrta thought. I could have covered it by taxi, not all taxi drivers get lost after all, and there is no public transportation to the crematorium. Still, she said, I don’t go there every day, but if there’d been a good cycle road, I would not have needed a car or a taxi, my uncle and aunt wouldn’t have had to come to help me, I would have simply cycled the way.
Kyrta was about to wave goodbye when her aunt Carolina came running after her carrying the heavy urn with her father’s ashes. She thanked her. Then she closed the door, sighed and hoped her mother and she would go to the magic mountain Montserrat one of these days to either bury or spread the ashes. Yes, this had been her father’s wish. Tears came to her eyes. Once more in her life, she was certain to feel exactly the same sadness Mario Savioni deals with in his book Blue Emptiness. However, the book was also about other types of human sadness. In fact, Kyrta believed all of us could identify ourselves with Savioni’s themes and characters portrayed in that book as well as in the other works she had read, so beautifully written.
She was sitting now in the living-room. She looked through the window. The yard was full of flowers, her father’s favorites too. The urn with the ashes was on the table. She thought of the Montserrat mountain and its monastery where his father had once been a monk.
© November 2018 Marta Pombo Sallés