El Persa

El Persa (Pepe Cardona) died a few hours ago. Pepe Cardona has died, but not El Persa. El Persa is still with us and always will be. He is in his books, drawings, cutouts, paintings. In the stories he counted on losing like Joyce when he wrote in taverns. And not only could he lose papers, he could also lose words. However, when I close my eyes, I can see the papers El Persa used to forget, and I hear the words he barely paid attention to. And, of course, were of no importance.

He has left us everything that does not exist. Those of us who were his friends know that. What an exceptional human being leaves behind is what cannot be seen: it is not a written or painted work (that is in addition), but much more than that. It is everything we know he could do and, in a way, did, without being aware of it.

To see a friend suffering and refusing to die because they do not believe his time has come, and cannot believe it because there is no acceptable time for any death, to see this friend suffering in this way without being able to do anything about it despite all the medical assistance, is terrible and outrageous. And El Persa was aware of his situation and the situation —and the pain— of those who, like his wife and daughter, took care of him and loved him to the fullest. I know how much he thought about them, and how much he loved them.

To me personally, he was an example of dignity that was the natural extension of the dignity sustained throughout his life. He did not have to tell me about the part of his life I saw. The part I did not see, as I did not know him in his childhood or youth, but much later, he would tell me in chunks without giving it much importance, without complaints, envy, or resentment. Rather, with joy. El Persa was a very happy child.

When a man does not envy or hold a grudge but looks ahead and tries to give you a good time, you want to keep being his friend. You need that friendship and you even want to leave this world before him so you can keep that friendship until the end. Pure selfishness, I know; but if I express it in this way it is to reiterate that I feel his death not only as a tragedy for all of us, but also as a personal loss of someone capable of making more bearable what we all find unbearable: dying without that look of understanding and support.

Days ago, when he could still stand up, not without a lot of effort, he hugged me with a strength he no longer had at the front door of his house. This was, I thought, his goodbye: because he knew we would not see each other again.

When I received the news this morning, I closed my eyes: El Persa was still hugging me. He had not stopped doing so since that last embrace, when he said my name two or three times, I looked at him, and noticed there were tears in his eyes.

Ignacio Carrión

‘A man has died but will never die’; published in ‘Escritura interior’ on 19/06/2012; http://www.ignaciocarrion.com/ Image: self-portrait of El Persa; February 2009.