“The Chelo”, ideals, determination, survival (Part I)

“To go the village in the morning; to return in the afternoon” these sentences was repeated by my father more than a few times. It emerges in my head when I look the incipient dawn reflected in the rear mirror of this newly spring in my way through A5 road.

The memories of my father are blurring nowadays. Except for yesterday, Friday, after having lunch together he told me eye to eye: “Carlos, I want to recover the notebook that I put into the wooden chest in the el doblao (garret in Extramadura dialect) of my mother’s house. It is likely he did not keep in the chest, or it is no longer there. However, I feel like looking for it and satisfying him if it is possible.

I arrive at the village through a zigzagging road that goes across the south slope of Sierra de Gredos. The landscape makes my driving quiet, so that I can enjoy the rare humid surroundings for an actual dry Extremadura. I park in the square next to the church and walk towards my grandmother’s house. To open the door had taken me a while, it was blocked. I go upstairs to the third floor through the old wooden stair, entering in la sala del pimiento-the pepper room.

The room has suffered the consequences of the course of time. The old beams of wood smoked and the adobe walls covered with some plaster and concrete patches seem too fragile. My movements are slow, standing immobile when I hear the cracking of the wooden floor. At the bottom, in the darkest side, there is an old ladder of wood that was used to reach el doblao.

Chelo Maqui Extremadura

I go up the 8 steps of the ladder, stepping firmly very slow, as close as possible to the part where the stair is fixed. All is dark. I turn on the LED head torch and walk around from right to left side. I see a rectangular wooden box lying between the splice of the roof and the load bearing wall. This part has the lowest height, so I crawl. I stretch my hand to pull the uncovered box, bringing it toward my hip.

Maquis en extremadura

I titled my head to see what is inside: blunted pencils, a rusty pocket lighter jodevientos, a rustic slingshot for rubbers, two decayed caps, a small chamber pot, cobwebs and… a small ring binder notebook that is fusty. I hold it softly with the left hand and blow away the dust of the cover. I discover a text that reads “Chelo 1942-1962”. I open it unfolding slowly the pages, I am afraid to rip them.

In the first page, it can be read “Dolores García, la Chelo, third year of fight. The totalitarianism has not defeated the freethinking. “(to be continued and ended, in part II)05

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