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The Presence of Your Absence

I used to get home by eight every day. I brought a pair of wounded feet and was always welcomed with a large hug and a warm soup; these not only warmed my soul but also soothed any pain or frustration. Every day felt like a Saturday, as long as you were at the stove, listening to the radio while playing with the aromas and the cooking utensils I gave you for Christmas. We used to talk a lot over dinner, about everything and anything, but every now and again we ended up on the same topic: your fear of oblivion. It’s a fear you always showed me. Whether it was by using a permanent pen to mark the little corners of our house with little bunnies, alluding to the loving nickname I gave you, or with the intensity you lived life, marking everything and everyone you encountered. I was no exception.

Now I sleep in a bed less full and have dinner at a table less crowded, because I have only your memory. You’re gone. I didn’t just share this house with you, I shared a history; yet you’re not here to share this pain. I suffer alone while having a microwaved meal, bland, with no trace of love or willingness, for dinner in this kitchen that echoes. I think your presence used to muffle the sound. Perhaps you marked this house and now, because of your absence, it manifests itself in this way, echoing, calling for you.

I tried to make a soup. Your soup. It turned out to be a green water with raw carrots floating, a tremendous cooking catastrophe. If you were here, certainly you’d laugh and say, ‘Stick to your lane’, an expression you used every time I did something flawed. An expression that constantly used to make me upset, but to which I wistfully sigh today. I always told you that your fear was silly and here is proof. Your presence marked me and, now that you’re no longer here to do it, I mark it myself wherever I go. I draw your nickname. I did it on a napkin from Café Ramires, on the corner of the attendance book, on the bench in the garden Amália Rodrigues (where we used to love each other).

You, my love, are permanent. Your memory is like a grey hair, you won’t let go of my head, but I won’t pull you out either. You symbolise a part of my life and I want to take you everywhere, wearing my beautiful grey hair with pride.

And now, what have I become, without the taste of your embrace, the warmth of your soup, with wounded feet and wounded soul?

Mariana Correia

Translated by Sara Fernandes

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