7. Our Food, Eugenia, The Oblivion We Will Be
His archaeological excavation of childhood begins, typically, with his memory of his father’s death.
W.G. SEBALD, Luftkrieg und Literatur.
Aunt Eugenia opened the door of the apartment. She hugged me as she could and said, I was waiting for you, my beautiful boy. A small stocky woman with a mane of blond-dyed hair. I saw her that day and then the next and then she died, and I did not see her ever again. Eugenia had spent the morning cooking arepas, fried plantain, and making Mondongo, a soup containing two kinds of onions, two kinds of potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, corn knobs, yucca, cilantro, saffron, salt, pig meat, and diced tripes, the internal lining of the stomach of a pig or a cow. I didn’t say anything and ate with pleasure the whole thing. That was the last time I ever tasted that dish made of the innards of a pig which I had eaten with Father at least half a dozen times every year during my childhood. Father liked to eat animal flesh in a variety of recipes, Morcilla, blood sausages, Chicharrón, fried pork skin, Chorizo, pig meat sausage, Chinchulín, grilled pig or cow intestines, Sancocho, a soup with plantain, yucca, potatoes, corn, cilantro, and pieces of a hen or a chicken served with avocado and white rice, Tamales, bright yellow corn dough filled with sliced carrots, corn, rice, and chunks of a chicken or a pig, the whole wrapped and steamed in plantain leaves and served with a cup of hot cocoa, Lechona, a whole pig emptied of its innards, bones, and meat, its carcass filled with a mix of the extracted meat, lard, green peas, rice, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin. The carcass is taken to the oven, bathed with orange juice from time to time to ensure the crunchiness of the skin, and cooked for five or six hours. The skin and filling is served with small arepas. The dishes already mentioned are just the beginning of a long list Father enjoyed. Their base is in every case the flesh, skin, organs, or innards of an animal. The memories were flowing with impatience. After Lara Bonilla, There were three more public figures killed. Guillermo Cano, a journalist and director who was shot dead by hitmen. Jaime Pardo, a politician who was shot dead by hitmen. Héctor Abad Gómez, a doctor and social worker who was shot dead by hitmen. Men fell like flies in the purulence of The Country.
Héctor Abad Faciolince, journalist, writer, and son of Abad Gómez, spent almost two decades writing El Olvido Que Seremos (The Oblivion We Will Be), the book that tells the story of his family and the events around the assassination of his father. I read the book weeks after The Incident. For some reason I cannot remember, I did not highlight several phrases as I often do with the books I read. There is only one section, in page 272 of the 2007 edition by Seix Barral that is highlighted in bright orange. It reads, Sobrevivimos por unos frágiles años, todavía, después de muertos, en la memoria de otros, pero también esa memoria personal, con cada instante que pasa, está siempre más cerca de desaparecer. Los libros son un simulacro del recuerdo, una prótesis para recordar, un intento desesperado por hacer un poco más perdurable lo que es irremediablemente finito (we survive for a few fragile years, still, after death, in the memory of others, but also this personal memory, with each moment, is always closer to disappear. Books are a mockery of memory, a prosthesis to remember, a desperate attempt to make a litle more enduring what is hopelessly finite). We were by then living in the House. I struggle to remember living in any other place before it. They must have been bland boxes of concrete where we lived surrounded to the left, right, up, and down by complete strangers in the middle of the burning city. The house was something else altogether.