As I look at your pictures,
I remember those years
when we talked
They’re memories in space
and sounds that fade away
in the infinity of time.
Your memory is alive
in the world inside me
and in the universe
I see at night.
Your words I hear
like echoes from the past,
flowing through my mind
and reaching for the stars.
CUANDO MIRO TUS FOTOS
yo me acuerdo
de otros tiempos.
Son memorias en el espacio,
imagenes que van al viento
y ruedan por el infinito.
Tu memoria vive
dentro del mundo mio
y en el universo de la noche indefinida.
Tus palabras son ecos del pasado
que entran a mi alma
y se van a las estrellas.
(This is a chapter of the novel Siete minutos, Ismael Camacho Arango wrote in 1971)
Why am I writing this? I know how it started but I can’t say how it finished.Is this the most important moment for humankind?
All of these questions come to my mind now that I’m going back to the primordial matter, and I’ll cease to be me.Have I ever been myself?
I have been many things that start and finish in a moment but I’ve never been sure of that.Will I be something now that I’m about to end?
Have the electrons found out that they’re electrons? Do the stars know what they are?
I hear a noise as if the sun was blowing in cosmic tones.No one has ever heard anything like that and no one will ever do.I have recorded it, and people in other parts of the world have done the same thing.Why? Perhaps I want to teach my children to identify an atmosphere that has been perturbed by a coughing sun.
I hear shouts in the streets, hallucinated words, the crying of the dying and drunk men singing.I had never seen or heard anything like that and I will never do again.
Everything started simply.It was a day like all the others.Workmen went to their work, wearing their overalls and their packed lunches.All men carried their solitude to pass another day somewhere else.
It was a day without personality.Everybody went somewhere, or they thought so.They all felt ashamed to be alive and did something else to pass the time.What they call work.You put down your head and contract your fingers and muscles.We have to move them until the clock on the wall tells us to stop.
The middle class man, who goes into his Rolls Royce and greets the uniformed driver, is the gravitational centre of the earth.He won’t give much bread to those poor people, who look from afar.They’re afraid to steal the light of his landscape.
Streets full of people, buses, trucks, taxis, and big automobiles, smaller automobiles, bicycles, women with dogs, policemen with whistles and revolvers, children.
Nobody looked at the sun.They all knew they were a part of the sun, even if they didn’t notice it.It rose on one side and went down the other, with regular monotony and they couldn’t think anything different.Primitive man worshipped the sun.It was fresher than the ancestral message.The Inca made a toast of chicha to the sun from the highest point in the Andes.Some others offered the flesh and hearts of men.
Our father sun had decided to eliminate us, perhaps because he didn’t have any more chicha and hearts.He would leave our toasted ashes in the cosmic cloud, as a reminder of the children of the sun.
On that particular day, the news travelled fast everywhere.I had just got dressed, when the radio programme was interrupted.Someone said: Attention! Attention! Extra! Extra!!! Extra!!!
I thought they wanted to sell soap for washing clothes and didn’t pay any attention.
“…northern lights in all regions, including the tropics.Several observatories all around the world are in contact to explain the phenomenon.A dense fog has descended all over the earth.We’ll keep you informed of any new developments.”
Breakfast was ready.I had bought sausages the day before and felt hungry.What were the northern lights? I would look at the encyclopaedia in the evening.I had forgotten to pay a few monthly quotas, and I had received letters from the seller.I stopped thinking about the problems.I wanted to have a good day.The radio went on.The night before a bank had been robbed, while a jet plane with seven hundred people had fallen into the ocean.Everyone died.A Czechoslovakian man burned himself in a protest against Russia, while another one in Saigon did that as a protest against the USA.The presenter tells me to buy chewing gum and smart shirts, while the pope says some bishops hate God, and a few bishops say the pope hates God.The presenter tells us about three dimensional televisions with smells.They’re indispensable in our homes.EXTRA!!! EXTRA!!! EXTRA!!!
Radio and television transmissions have been affected by intense solar activity.
He talked of the sun again.What did it matter the solar activity and the radio communication? I could hear the radio very well but it was a local station.Would I have any problems with long distance programs? I lit my cigarette and heard: EXTRA! EXTRA!
The maid appeared at that moment.
“Come,” she said.
As I opened the window, a dense fog came in the house.Something had to be burning nearby.I had never seen anything like that.
EXTRA! EXTRA! The authorities have informed the citizens of the fog over the city.They want people to stay at home.You must go out in the street only if it is urgent.Cars should drive at low speeds and with their lights on to stop any accidents.The schools are shut.EXTRA! EXTRA!
The neighbouring houses had disappeared under the fog, while shadows moved within the clouds, like lost angels.Lights appeared sometimes, driving slowly in the whiteness enveloping the world.
I felt hot in spite of the fog.I decided to stay at home and sat down to listen to the radio.As I tried to find radio stations in short waves, I only heard noise. I went back to the local station, but it had been put together with the national radio.The world had never seen anything else like this
Attention! All the radio stations are in contact with the national radio, to bring you information about the rare things happening in the country and in the world.We have to do this because communications by radio are getting more difficult.
We’re doing a resume of the situation in the country from the central station in Bogota.Fog has invaded the country, and the air service has been stropped.Airplanes that were in the air have been declared in emergency.We don’t know what has happened to them.The fog is greater in the ports, while the level of the seas has receded.Small and big ships have been left stranded by the coasts.We don’t know the number of victims up to now.Rare atmospheric events have been seen.This glow in the sky looks like the northern lights or auroras borealis.We beg our citizens to be calm.
This is the national radio and we have just read the number one news of the moment.
It is raining in Bogota.Attention!An electric storm has developed over the city, with rain and hale.As I looked out of the window, I saw rain pouring amidst the fog.Thousands of hail stones fell over the city while the house shook.I ran out of the room and stood in the middle of the patio.The earth moved and I felt like in the middle of an angry sea.I had to go down on the floor as the water and hail kept on coming.The maids screamed next to me.They called San Emilio, who seems to know of these things.
A rumble came out of the earth while houses fell down around us.I lay down with my head on the floor for about fifteen minutes.We stood up sometimes, but the quake started again.It stopped later and the city was quiet as water fell on us.The house had been destroyed, except for two rooms by the back yard.They were small and tough.The entire city seemed to have been destroyed and the fog had almost vanished.
I found the radio by my side.As I tried to get a radio station, I heard only static.Perhaps it was broken or they didn’t exist anymore.
I went out in the street followed by the maids.We saw a few wet and frightened people.The dust had mixed with the water and we looked like carbon miners.We heard someone shouting from the nearest ruins.As we tried to get over there, a wall collapsed and the shouts stopped.We were left in silence.
I felt alone with nature as I sat under a big tree in the park.Something told me the end of humanity was near.
As I opened my eyes, I saw people looking like ghosts around me.They had mud all over their bodies and looked at me with empty eyes.Most of them had sat on the floor but some others moved about.No one said anything.I switched on the radio to pass the time.I heard a voice after a while: Here H.K.5 A.C.1….H.K.5 A.C.1…Attention! Attention! A terrible earthquake has destroyed most of the city of Palmira.Attention! We must mobilise all the help available: firemen, police, the army, doctors and nurses.Attention! This is an urgent call…
Hello! Hello! We’ve received your message H.K.5. A.C.1. Here is H.K.9. D.G.U. here H.K.9 D.G.U.The quake has destroyed most of the city of Cali.We are the only human beings left around here.Attention!We ask everybody to help the cities of Cali and Palmira….
Attention! Attention! Here is voice Bogota.We are using the equipment we managed to find for this programme.Attention all the country.The capital of the country has been destroyed by an earthquake.Attention! I repeat.Bogota has been destroyed by a quake.We need urgent help.
It was still raining.I joined a rescue group.As we went around the streets, we found the remains of buildings amidst rivers of blood.We found a wounded man.We made a stretcher with a few sheets to take him to the clinic.Then we saw two dying women and a child.We made our way with the injured people towards the ruins of a clinic.We improvised a hospital between the ruins and offered the wounded people water mixed with hail.
What else could we do? I found a bottle of aguardient left intact amidst the rubbish.I drank most of it and felt much better.I switched on the radio again.
I found transmissions from Buga, Tulua and Medellin.They all asked for help.All of the country had been affected by the earthquake.I heard the voices of the survivors calling for help.I fell asleep.
I woke up as people ran around and screamed.Some of them had no clothes on while other wore rags.Everyone looked drunk.I supposed they had found more aguardiente.A woman, who had lost her right arm, swore while moving the other limb.She fell on the floor and didn’t move again.A child looked in the mud for his missing left ear, while a river of blood ran down his shoulders.
Aguardiente seemed to be the only medication available.I retired to my corner to drink from my bottle as the rain kept on pouring.I switched on the radio.
This is the emergency radio.We ask for calm.All the stations must join us.We’ll have news about the rest of the country very soon.It has been a universal disaster.The sea quake happened after the earthquake.Most of the sea ports have disappeared as far as we know.We have heard that Caracas in Venezuela has gone under the water.