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Friday, August 19, 2022

The new story of Marcelo Birmajer: Final

The professor of Moral and Civic Education, Edmundo Kandaro, arrived at the Covadonga hotel, in Montes del Mar, accompanied by his recent girlfriend, Caterina Neer Ven Hol, on Saturday, June 24, 1978. It would be his last weekend off, paradoxically. : I would resume classes on Monday and, before the start of winter break, he would retire.

I would never teach at the school again. Your Saturdays and Sundays would be the same as the rest of the days. The professor did not support the military dictatorship of Videla. He did not want to continue trying to convey democratic and republican content in that atmosphere of terror and irrationality.

The days of the World Cup had been especially difficult for him: even the most interested students in their classes had surrendered to the atmosphere of general hubbub. In his house, alone, horrified by the popular joy, Kandaro had celebrated Hungary’s goal against Argentina, yelling at Videla’s face on the TV screen.

He soon discovered that he had filed a complaint himself: what if a soldier lived in that building, or some accommodating neighbor, and they came to see what was happening to him? In that moment of panic, he decided to leave the Capital, and also anticipate your retirement. In any case, it was about time.

He had dedicated his life to teaching, unsuccessfully. He loved this country and its people, but they had failed to understand each other. She passed in many love stories. In fact, with Caterina, love worked even if they didn’t finish understanding each other.

He had met her about two weeks ago, shortly after her “flight.” She had arrived as a journalist and they had met on the bus. Caterina’s wallet had been stolen with her ticket and the teacher had bought one of hers. But that sudden romance, Kandaro considered it an undeserved gift. A miracle.

They spoke in English, some Spanish, and a word of Dutch escaped her. But what could she want from him? It was her last week as a teacher and this was probably her last love. Y if the strange forces of chance were announcing his last week?

The country became unlivable in those circumstances, and he couldn’t imagine living in any other. In his youth he had known Europe and North America, even the USSR and its satellites: Hungary itself, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria.

He hated communist dictatorships. He abhorred the bloodthirsty terrorists of the left and the military criminals of the dictatorship. He knew that Argentina was for more, but he could not do more.

In the room of the discreet Hotel Covadonga, with its black and white television, there was a safe, locked with a key. What could I keep here, my heart? He had no other valuables. Caterina flopped down on the bed and he followed her. Kissing her was like visiting another place. Her skin was cool and her laugh was contagious. It was the first verses of the song Orange Blossom.

Kandaro decided to stay hugging her, both of them naked, until Caterina had had enough. She he fell asleep under his satiated man’s embrace.

He had paid for everything since they met: the ticket he had supposedly lost, the dinners, the breakfasts, the lunches. The hotel. She paid with satisfaction. He couldn’t believe that she just wanted to live it. She wouldn’t have traveled that far for it, and there were infinitely more profitable and attractive men out there. But there she was, like the bacán that acamalaba.

When she woke up, Caterina resumed her enthusiasm for the next day’s Final. That slightly irritated Kandaro. He tried to explain to her how offensive he found the devotion of his compatriots, their incalculable distance from that hubbub; but Caterina, who was also against the dictatorship, I did not accompany him in his disdain for the World Cup.

She followed the matches with relish, and happy that the Netherlands had reached the Final. Her chronicles were colored. Once again, Kandaro wondered, why was that woman with him, on the brink of his personal abyss? What could he want with an old skin?

Caterina went out for a walk along the winter shore, and Kandaro stayed in the room drinking mate, with a heater, like a Bioy character in pig war diary. In that novel, the young people killed the old out of hatred; but a girl loved them. In his life, Caterina’s love, surely fleeting, would kill him.

To do something, while I watched her walk against the horizon, oblivious to the cold and the sea spray, like a mermaid, opened the safe. There were five thousand dollars.

Someone, a previous passenger, had left five thousand dollars in the safe, with the key in the box. Improbable. Kandaro, afraid, counted them twice. He checked them, felt them. It was five thousand dollars. there were no doubts. They were real. How could an Argentine have forgotten five thousand dollars in a locked safe deposit box?

Maybe he wasn’t an Argentine. After all, it was a tourist hotel. But even an Argentine, like Kandaro, Kandaro himself thought, could have forgotten them. What was there to do with that money? What a great topic that would be for Monday’s class. But for Monday there were a few overlapping 48 hours.

He had to make a decision before his last week of school. If she notified the concierge, who guaranteed that the money would reach her rightful owner?

On the other hand, for the first time in his adult life, he maintained an intimate relationship with an idea of ​​metaphysical causality: Was the Providence that had left Caterina on the shore the same one that gave her five thousand dollars for her retirement? How easy it was to think so. How many conflicts it saved him.

Who needed Morals and Civics when human affairs were resolved through unverifiable belief?, violence or fanaticism? So… what to do with that money? If the What to do? If Lenin had referred to that conflict, the 20th century would have been less ruthless. But that, too, was no consolation to the old professor about to retire.

A flare of inspiration lit up her soul. Did Caterina want her money? She would leave it within her reach. Somehow, she would arrange for her to take it and run away undetected. May Providence, in the form of a woman, decide for him.

That night, in the large dining room of the hotel, in the middle of a cold dinner, they argued. Kandaro, still smiling at him, speculated on not seeing the Final, as a civil protest. She told him that he was crazy, in English, Spanish and Dutch. Already in the bedroom, she refused him. Kandaro pretended to sleep.

The money was available: in the safe deposit box ajar (it was a credible oversight, if she had been with Kandaro for more than a week).

Caterina left the room in the middle of the night and the professor, unbelievably so, fell asleep. At dawn, the money was in its place. The woman does not. Whoever decided the destinies of the Universe had spoken, written his To do.

He went downstairs to give the money to the concierge.

While the Argentines turned on the televisions, Professor Kandaro, badly asleep, with his heart beaten in the safe, forever, prepared his class for Monday.

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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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