I was cleaning out my purse a bit when I found a few coins at the bottom of a case: a Chinese yuan, an Indian rupee, a Cuban peso, and an Angolan kwanza. I remembered that I was in the habit of saving them so I could give them to Araujo when I bumped into him around San Miguel street. In Ourense’s old quarter, patient neighbors endured nightly noise and lived side by side with the city’s most emblematic characters. Araujo was one of them. I am sure neither of his history nor of his mental affliction, but his habit when walking around the cobbled streets of the most beautiful parts of Ourense was to ask for “a little euro” with a contagious energy and a smile to match.
I think I met him when I was younger—he had helped bring up one of the pianos at my mother’s house. My interaction with him coincided with the moment that my first record came out. He would approach me with the phrase, “Cristinita, where are you coming from today?” and then after chatting for a bit, “Cristinita, a little euro.”
One day, when I was exiting a cab in front of my mother’s house, he stopped me to ask me for “a little euro,” and I told him I only had rupees on me—I had just arrived from India. And when he saw them, his face lit up. Since that day, instead of asking me for little euros, he would ask me what coins I had. I don’t think he cared about money all that much; it was conversation what he really wanted. For many years, I would keep coins from other countries to give him little by little. But this year Araujo left us, and with him left the history of one of the most visible characters of an invisible world, the world of those who, because they are different, end up living on the streets.