Parallel Realities

La Voz de Galicia – May 3, 2019 →

Cristina Pato There they were, like always, in the Xardíns do Padre Feijoó. Sometimes they can’t stop talking, sometimes they are quiet for hours, and I have seen them argue sometimes too. I don’t know when I first became aware of them, but it has been more than a dozen years since I have been conscious of them being always there. They are a mother and a daughter, and they are always together, but I don’t know much more about their story. I just know that they are always on the street, that they go from church to church and take the same walks that my mother and I have taken all our lives in the old part of Ourense: As Burgas, the Cathedral and the park of San Lázaro, taking Santo Domingo on our way out and returning by way of the Paseo.

They walk slowly, like us, and most times the mother holds on to her daughter’s arm, like us. Some years ago, my mother said, «Look, there we go» and from that moment on, we began referring to them as «Maruxa and Cristina». We never officially met, we never said hello, and I don’t know whether they were aware of the world around them the same way that my mother and I were.

My Maruxa likes processions, and during Holy Week we saw the daughter, alone. She was well dressed—she wore a purple skirt and black blouse and held a rosary and a giant cross, probably from some religious brotherhood. She was in a world of her own, like always, but this time her face seemed haggard. Then, on our way back through the cathedral, I saw her again. For the first time in my life, I approached her: «How is your mother?» And she, as if we had known each other forever, told me what the matter was and thanked me for asking.

I was saddened, thinking that in all these years, I never stopped to ask if they needed something. And suddenly I felt the loneliness that those who know themselves to be invisible feel.

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