There are stories that she repeats every day. Sometimes, she changes the names, the places, and even the story itself. But at other times, if she has a good day, the story she tells is quite similar to the version I remember, the one from before she began to lose her memory.
During these last few weeks, Maruxa began to repeat a story from her childhood that I was not familiar with. I suppose that it had not gotten through that mental filter she had before (and that many women of her generation still have), the filter of explicit memory that allows in the good things of the past, but that also mutes the bad ones. The fact is that when I heard (astounded) the singularity of the account, I realized that each time she recounted the story, with its accompanying variations, she always ended it with the same phrase: «Back then, misery was for everyone.»
And then I began to think about the circumstances that surrounded that phrase, because at that moment in the 1940s there was «misery for everyone,» but some suffered more than others. And even today, we live circumstances different from the misery of the childhood that came to my mother’s memory, and the truth is that the phrase has so much power and is, sadly, so relevant today…
I don’t know if when we look back at these years of the pandemic we will speak of misery, or if, on the contrary we will mute the harshest parts of this historical moment. Today, there is something of misery for everyone, but similar to other times, some will feel it more than others. I don’t know how many small businesses will be able to survive, nor how many stories of hunger live around us, but thinking about the misery from which many of our forebears escaped, the one they don’t speak about, helps me believe that if they could get out of that situation, we should at least try it.