La canción de nosotros, by Eduardo Galeano


Title translation (approx.): The song of us (maybe? When I was checking if this was a possible grammatical construction, I found out there’s already an English written book by that name)

Mariano is back. Back from where and back to where I don’t remember if it’s ever said*. Let’s just said he’s back from exile, and back to find and reconnect with the woman he loved (and still does) and was forced to left behind, Clara. After all he went through, Mariano is far from being the same person Clara met then, and they own themselves a deep conversation.

Ganapán and Buscavida**, in a way of having a goodbye party for the later, who is to leave the city soon, dreaming of having a better life somewhere else, just drunk all their remaining money. They wander around, trying to find a way to collect what’s necessary to buy Buscavida’s ticket, or some food. Ganapán is one of those who seemed destined from birth to poverty, and can hardly expect anything else. At least, he has his heart in the right place. Buscavida, not so much.

Rethinking this book now, I feel Mariano is like Ulysses coming back for Penelope, after having survived his odyssey. Ganapán is currently going through his own, one of a different kind, but struggling, nonetheless.

This was my first time reading something by Galeano. He was recommended to me before, and I have even buy some of his books for other people as presents, but never find myself reading any of them. I had to start somewhere, and this one came to my hands.

By the time this book was published, 1975, Galeano was exiled in Argentina while Uruguay was under a dictatorial government. While I was reading the chapters dedicated to the imprisonment, and the tortures, and even those fragments excerpted from the Inquisition’s archives (so hard to read), I couldn’t help but thinking how ominous they were to Argentina’s own near future (as in 1976 would start the last and most gruesome dictatorship of our history). I was also thinking how curious it was that, even when I was reading for pleasure, I ended up falling into a timeline coincident with my last non-fiction, graduation-project-related readings.

*although one can easily presume the story occurs in Montevideo, and Mariano’s back from Argentina, more presumably, Buenos Aires.

**theirs was my favorite arc of the book, mostly because it somehow made me think, in a way, of García Márquez’s magical realism, particularly their visit to La Perversa de París’ brothel and the characters they found there. And I absolutely adore their names, and almost every name in their arc, as they’re quite descriptive of the person baring them and any attempt on my part to anglicized them would be a complete disaster.