CARMEN DISAPPEARED by Lula Falcāo

Translated by Andrew Brown and Helena Cavendish de Moura

 

Carmen disappeared. For some years, I’ve been chasing clues in every possible way, here, there, and there’s no sign of Carmen.

I return to the condominium complex and ask the older neighbors whether they have any recollection of  Carmen. No one remembers.

Nothing in relation to her, even after thirty years. No one has heard, not even from afar and it seems as if this was not the place to look because Carmen’s name simply vanished from the collective memory, just like that, as in a spell, and it is haunting that someone so striking can be forgotten this way. 

Carmen exists or existed.  Some friends recall her but haven’t seen her since those days.  She is in a photo. A face simultaneously tranquil and agitated, because only Carmen could elicit such feelings of ambiguity. You can tell the initial gesture she makes in order to escape the framing, hurried, moving out of focus; she wasn’t showy and didn’t like to pose—she thought it was phony. 

She wore glasses and liked her few friends. 

In any case, I took it upon myself to find her, I knew it would probably lead to disappointment, and my investigation would explain why no one noticed her existence. 

In any case, I move forward, with only information from memory. 

From other people’s memory, I need the exact point at which Carmen fell into forgetfulness and why. There is one problem: I don’t know Carmen’s last name. 

She was so critical. She looked like these people today, kind of hopeless, but finding herself interesting for thinking that way.

One day, at the beach, by the end of the afternoon, as in those days, Carmen was the first to notice the stereotypical scene; she hated Luaus and other such festivities. 

While others gorged on it as if it were the fountain of youth, she’d weave a  story about a lost generation and great battles ahead. But she conveyed these things in a tender way, without detracting from anyone ’s enjoyment at being stoned, gazing at the sky, or blowing kisses.

I imagine that today Carmen would say that looking for missing persons is a stale recourse—reminiscent of  Bolano’s Savage Detective–but in relation to Carmen perhaps it was different: she would also find a way to say go ahead, it just might work.

Perhaps she suggests that I search for her some other way, without trying to find her, as could now be the case. She once said that only process exists; the rest, including power and glory, pure illusion.

 

Finally, I record her forceful irritation.  She quibbled too much with warnings and popular sayings and phrases in general and corrected the condominium association’s newsletter with a pen.

“Why does God give us the cold that suits the cover? Why not give the cover that suits the cold?”. We were glued together at a time when it would seem strange for a guy to go out every day with the same girl and nothing happened between them. 

There were other distractions, the universe, and its stories, maladjusted theories about everything along with Carmen’s incessant badgering of a world in which she disagreed with just about everything. 

 

Despite this, when she was certain,  a benevolent charm.  She never said I told you so. ”. She sided with the underdog,  helping him find an honorable escape. And was too pretty to be forgotten so suddenly. Never using beauty for personal advantage, instead, she awakened other beauties and even a certain dose of authority. 

We were her friends and followers. A rare crowd with a woman in command. 

What was impressed upon me was the honesty she conveyed as she spoke on any subject. She may not have exactly understood what it was (about), but little by with what she had available, she would, in the end, up at an idiosyncratic point of view. 

Sometimes an idea. She was the first person to tell me about gravitational waves and other phenomena which at the time were mere speculation. 

Carmem grasped physics, read Rosa Luxemburg and followed football. 

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