My aunt Rubí writes me that she is moving to Madrid. The news makes me very happy in the case of my mother’s younger sister, my godmother, who was influential like no other in my sentimental upbringing. At the same time, I can’t help but reflect on how contradictory her decision was, because if Aunt Rubí has one undeniable weakness, it’s the sea. Recently retired from the factory at seventy, where she became general manager, and after decades of living in her home on the San Miguel seafront, back in Lima, with that unprecious but soothing view of the Pacific, she left down a city without cost, no matter what Madrid it is, it sounds absurd to me. I don’t know if I should warn her that she will miss the sea like I miss it every time the harsh summer comes. The aunt is so touchy that she might think I’m trying to persuade her to change her mind. “You sure don’t want to see me,” he’d tell me, I bet he did. But it is not like that. I just can’t imagine them far from the sea. Most of my memories with her are associated with certain beaches. I see her lying on a sun lounger at El Silencio right now, back when there were still those little wooden restaurants a few meters from the shore where ceviche were served so fresh that the pieces of fish on the plate dangled in between the sweet potato and the salad and were eaten by served by indistinguishable waiters: wiry-haired, sunburned seventeen-year-olds in tank tops, knee-length Hawaiian trunks, and tight scalloped collars. I see Aunt Rubí under an umbrella with the Inka-Cola logo, smearing sunscreen on her pale body, alone devouring a whole helping of mussels a la chalaca in a polythene container, getting small green bottles of Pilsen Callao from a red igloo filled with ice cubes . In a few minutes he will dive into the sea, but not before crossing himself and recommending himself to Saint Jude Tadeo, he will face the first waves without panic, he will cover his nose to dive, he will make three or four strokes, who will reveal him Due to his inexperience, he will jump in the sand to untie her ears and then she will offer the crowd of vacationers the spectacle of her blue bathing suit, which according to her is identical to the one worn by Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity wore. I couldn’t count the times when my aunt used to drive me to El Silencio on my childhood vacations in her truck, that orange station wagon whose radiator overheated every 10 kilometers, forcing us to make technical stops. The two of us went, well, the three of us talked about his historic Maltese dog, Marcuchi, whom everyone in the family almost scornfully called Marcucha (years later we found out his name Marcucci was pronounced like the gangster from I don’t know , which Italian film). In fact, the bitch came too, sat on my legs and growled at me to lower the glass on my side, stick her head out and feel the dirty wind from the Panamericana Sur comb her hair across her face. During those trips, my aunt would put cassettes into the radio she kept in the glove compartment, a touring disco of questionable versatility where Serrat, Alberto Cortez, and Raphael lived with the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Pink Floyd. When we got to the beach and only after I settled down on the sand under the Inka-Cola umbrella, my aunt agreed to buy me ice cream from the wheelbarrow, but not before she negotiated the price, until it was reduced by half was reduced. He then uncovered one of his lagers and began reading quino strips while noticing the figures on the shore out of the corner of his eye: popsicle players, vendors of “thirty-six bite” chicken sandwiches, groups of young girls in bikinis , which she described as skinny pitucas, and other ladies with tropical bathing suits, which were huachafa cholas for my aunt. I’ve always had the impression that this beach’s raw vibe — ice cream cones, drunken laughter, horrible songs blaring from restaurant speakers — contrasted with the stillness its name evoked. To have named it El Silencio seemed more than an inconsistency, like a provocation. However, I was so happy with my Aunt Rubí in this stretch of the Lima coast that none of it ever made me uncomfortable.
In the mid 1980’s my father rented a house on the beach in San Bartolo. Except for one single day we spent an unforgettable summer. Aunt Rubí came very early to spend Sunday with us for a birthday or something. Before lunch, he walked to the resort’s pier, took off his Panama hat he had bought at the tollbooth, and launched himself into the sea in an unorthodox dive that turned into a belly punch. The surprise of the guests was great when the aunt returned after about thirty-five minutes with red spots and a strange rash with blister-like rashes on her arms and legs. The children of the house looked at them in horror, and some began to spread rumors that an electric manta ray had inoculated him with his venom. The truth is that she had been bitten by some Malaguas and at the same time her skin had suffered the ravages of the unusual 35 degree heat causing a searing heat that caused my mother to frantically call each of the doctors who appeared in his personal Writing in a diary and turning the overflowing medicine chest in the bathroom upside down. My father, accompanied by a friend, a historical militant of the Peruvian left known as a healer, went in search of a doctor at the San Bartolo post and insisted that the solution for my aunt was to start her own streams poured urine on the wounds to soothe the effect of bites. The calmest was Aunt Rubí, of all people, who chose to ignore this disgusting recommendation, and after administering a few antihistamines, popping the blisters on her skin with a hot needle, and downing a pisco sour in one gulp, she returned calm back to her pier and spent the rest of the afternoon launching from the pier into the sea until the dives were almost perfect.
For a long time, every time Easter approached, we wondered which beach Aunt Rubí would like to camp on this year. Although a devout woman, she hated staying at home and attending the congregation’s Stations of the Cross or watching the Holy Mantle on television. She said that God is in nature and sought him on her favorite public beaches, León Dormido, Gallardo, Cerro Azul. Only once did my aunt accept my mother’s invitation to set up a camp at the beach branch of an exclusive club in Lima. He arrived in his orange station wagon, with his red igloo stuffed full of cold beer and his quino strips under his arm. I remember that the first night, a little drunk, she busied herself launching insults at her boss, the engineer Leandro Manizales, then the general manager of the factory. My aunt had just asked him for a reasonable raise, but he had refused to grant it, using excuses that seemed false to her. The next morning my mother asked him to go to the club office and ask for a new support for the gas stove. The always pragmatic aunt decided to find a blunt object for support herself. After half an hour with no result, he approached the dumpsters lined up along the seafront and stuck his head in each one like recyclers and beggars do. As he was there, picking up rubbish, poking around in the dirty bottom of the bins, he suddenly heard a voice that was tragically familiar. “Gummyinda? Are you?”. It was the engineer Leandro Manizales, the manager of the factory, who, on the arm of his new second wife, could not overcome his astonishment at such an unexpected encounter. Then my aunt Rubí, née Rubercinda, my mother’s younger sister, my Godmother at baptism, the only one of nine children who managed to graduate and become the pride of the family, she, victim of a stutter never experienced before and aware of his homeless behavior, he was full of explanations – as unlikely as those he received when he asked for the raise – and hastened the dismissal as fast as he could, but when he arrived at his office on the Monday after Easter, he received double the raise he was requesting When I told my mother about it on the phone, she repeated her favorite religious phrase: “It’s a little miracle of Saint Jude.”
The sea is an integral part of my aunt Rubí’s biography. I can’t imagine that in Madrid, in the middle of the year, she will cool off in the swamp or in the municipal pools. I will warn him, at the risk of getting angry with me. Nobody knows better than me how depressed he would be if he didn’t have a beach nearby where he could roast his pale skin, sip beer at will with his feet in the sand, bang his stomach from wave to wave and continue to carry himself could -confidence and dignity the only swimsuit he wears I met him, the blue one, Deborah Kerr’s.
Renato Cisneros (Lima, 46 years old) is a journalist, poet and writer. He has written volumes of poetry such as “Ritual de los Prójimos” (1988) and novels “Never trust me or you will leave the earth”. In the diary Some day I will show you the desert (2019) he talks about the experience of being a father.