top of page

Tot sigui per fi de bé

Torna a ploure a París. No hi ha manera d’estrenar les sandàlies abans que passin de moda. L’aigua fresca arrossega les penes carrer avall. Els cambrers em somriuen aixoplugats sota els porxos de les creperies, amb una galanteria potser superflua i decorativa, però a mi sempre m’ha agradat el protocol. I això sí que ho té, París. Aquí encara hi queda gent capaç de no respondre davant l'absència del bonjour regulatori. La meva àvia materna era devota inqüestionable a les bones formes. La manca d'educació li provocava un rebuig exuberant, només comparable a les ungles de gel i les celles massa primes. Vestia sobria i correcta, fandilla per sota els genolls, una cadeneta daurada i l’anell de casada. A vegades el seu afany desbordant per sembrar un bon exemple li atorgava un caire distant o altiu. D’altres, tota ella eren petons i estrabades de galta mentre mussitava "gràcies a Déu que a casa tots som guapos".


Se'n va anar un dia com avui, el cel de París la plorava. Des de llavors, pluja i nostàlgia són sinònims inexorables. Recordo sortir de casa sense abric ni paraigües i caminar Rue de Rennes amunt fins l’abadia de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Em vaig quedar una bona estona palplantada davant la pedra ennegrida i humida pel mal temps intermitent. Vaig imaginar-me l’àvia amb la seva bossa de mà rectangular entregada a la foscor reconfortant de l’abadia, després de senyar-se tot el que es podia senyar. La seva fe era extensa, però al mateix temps quedava curiosament limitada a Catalunya (i en excepcions comptades Lourdes). No confiava en els avions, però vull pensar que si hagués marxat a París uns anys abans, s’hauria atrevit a venir amb tren. Li hauria preparat un itinerari de pelegrinatge sense precedents que haguéssim seguit fil per randa, culminant la passejada a Notre-Dame o al Sacré Coeur, evitant, evidentment, el cancan del Moulin Rouge. Li hagués fet tastar els escargots francesos i haguéssim rigut plegades recordant els dies de pluja a Amer. Esperàvem amb delit que sortís el Sol per anar a la riera a buscar cargols, els posàvem dins d’una bossa de plàstic transparent i m’ensenyava a cuinar-los ignorant les meves cares carregades d’un escepticisme flagrant.


M’enorgulleix pensar que l’apreci pel respecte em ve d’ella i la tinc ben present quan cedeixo el meu lloc al metro, quan aguanto la porta a qui camina rere meu o ajudo a un senyor gran a trobar el camí cap a casa. Em deia sovint que havia d’estimar els pares perquè ells a mi m’estimaven molt. Em posava les mans a les espatlles i assenyalava que era una bona nena, jo mirava a terra pensant que potser no tant, mentre llistava amb veu baixa les últimes ximpleries de més a menys cruesa. La meva àvia sempre saludava pel carrer, preguntava i escoltava amb una dedicació magistral. Duia monedes entaforades al moneder perquè "mai se sap qui ho pot necessitar" i escrivia poesia que llegíem al sofà.


El cel és gris mat i les terrasses són buides. Una capa d’aigua fina cobreix les taules de La Bigoudenne. Avui hi ha una cambrera que reposa la mirada al final del carrer, s’agafa les mans a tocar de l’esquena. Bonsoir madame. Bonsoir à vous, li dic mentre busco les claus. Abans d’entrar la miro als ulls i li faig adéu amb la mà, una mica massa enèrgica. Quan la nostàlgia truca a la porta, cal convidar-la a sopar. Al cap i a la fi, no som més que un grapat de records.



 

It's raining again in Paris. There's no way I can wear my new sandals before they go out of style. The fresh water drags the sorrows down the street. Waiters smile at me, tucked under the restaurants' porches, with perhaps superfluous and decorative gallantry, but I have always liked etiquette. And Paris truly has it. Here, there are still people capable of not responding to the absence of the regulatory bonjour. My grandmother was unquestionably devoted to good manners. Lack of education provoked in her an exuberant rejection, only comparable to gel nails and overly thin eyebrows. She dressed modestly and properly, with a skirt below the knees, a gold chain, and her wedding ring. Sometimes her overflowing eagerness to set a good example gave her a distant or haughty air. Other times, she was all kisses and cheek pinching while muttering, "thank God we are all beautiful at home."


She left on a day like this, Paris wept for her. Since then, rain and nostalgia have become inexorable synonyms. I remember leaving the house without a coat or umbrella and walking up Rue de Rennes until the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. I stood for a long time in front of the dark and wet stone, due to the intermittent bad weather. I imagined my grandmother with her rectangular handbag, surrendered to the comforting darkness of the abbey, after crossing herself twice. Her faith was extensive but, at the same time, curiously limited to Catalonia (and in rare exceptions, Lourdes). She didn't trust airplanes, but I like to think that if I had moved to Paris a few years earlier, she would have dared to come by train. I would have prepared an unprecedented pilgrimage itinerary that we would have followed to the letter, culminating the walk at Notre-Dame or Sacré-Cœur, of course avoiding the cancan of the Moulin Rouge. I would have had her taste French snails, and we would have laughed together, remembering the rainy days in Amer. We eagerly awaited the sun to come out, so we could go to the stream to find snails. We would put them in a transparent plastic bag, and she taught me how to cook them, ignoring my skeptical looks.


I'm proud to think that my appreciation for respect comes from her, and I keep her in mind when I give up my seat on the metro, hold the door for someone behind me, or help an old man find his way home. She often told me that I should love my parents because they loved me very much. She put her hands on my shoulders and pointed out that I was a good girl, and I would look at the ground, thinking that perhaps not so much, while I listed the latest trifles in a low voice, from least to most crude. My grandmother always greeted people on the street, asked and listened with a masterful dedication. She carried coins in her purse because "you never know who might need them," and she wrote poetry that we read on the sofa.


The sky is gray and the terraces are empty. A thin layer of water covers the tables of La Bigoudenne. Today, there's a waitress resting her gaze at the end of the street, holding hands rubbing her back. Bonsoir, madame. Bonsoir à vous, I say as I search for my keys. Before stepping inside, I look into her eyes and wave goodbye with a bit too much energy. When nostalgia knocks on the door, you have to invite her for dinner. In the end, we are nothing more than a handful of memories.

95 views

Comments


bottom of page