andar por ahí | martin patricio barrios ago. 2012 - Page 101

He was coming with his hand stretched up to the sky, like a drawing of Corto Maltese in Samarkand. The green overcoat reaching his canvas shoes and his fur hat put on down to the eyes embedded in his red and bright face, tight because of four or five thousand years of cold, and I’m almost sure he was laughing or the cold made him screw up his face and I thought he was laughing with his hand stretched out, waving pictures that were handled, crumpled, faded after putting them in and taking it out of the pocket so many times, after showing them so often to tourists who never know very well how to get rid of the needy and the pest. I was trying to see him from behind the steam puffs, feeling sick after trying to get air into my lungs. He said incomprehensibly and clumsily kind things and I pretended that I was in a Pratt’s story, that he was not a souvenir seller. He waved the pictures and beat his chest and said something like my country, my country, he said so proudly, not pretending to be proud, but with pride, my country...Mongolia, and he beat his chest with his hand open; he beat it with a kind of complex gentleness and when his open hand touched his chest he kept it a little, like that, open, on his chest, my country, Mongolia. Me Mongolia, he said and he almost poked me with the pictures in my eye and I looked at the pictures and told him, not so much I, but the other one that was not me and that was in a Pratt’s story: that is China, and he looked at me in amazement and confused, he looked at me for a while, half curious, and then he laughed as if he had found the tip of the iceberg about the most complex aspects of human existence, and he turned a little on his side, smiling, with his face red and tight and as if there weren’t enough centuries of history, of historians, of tellers, of liars, of fables, of legends, of children’s tales, of adventurers, of school teachers and of thieves, as if tons of chisel cut stone, carried on the back, piled up at the expense of deaths and whippings, as if thousands of workmen, architects, engineers, as if emperors’ pride and security of courtiers, as if 5 km of the Great Wall of China were not enough, as if the tremendous fortress was no to enough to set any limit, he showed me his yellow teeth, with the patience of a tale sage, he raised his hand and drew a line in the air, he raised and lowered his arm in the direction of the Great Wall, then he pointed at one side and said: China, he pointed at the other and said: Mongolia. He held his laugh, pointed at himself with the glove unstitche B