a sunny thursday
That academic year 1975-1976 was the only one that we lived and worked in Barcelona, as teachers, from Tuesday to Friday. One night, returning from Tarragona to the apartment where we rented in Gràcia, we saw that a young couple was waiting in front of the house, with two suitcases and an undeniable image of abnormality. She had short hair, colored an unusual reddish that, at first glance, made it difficult to identify her. They were Mireia, nom de guerre corresponding to Margarida Aritzeta, the future writer, professor at the URV and Dean of the Institution of Catalan Letters, and Francesc, years later mayor of Valls and deputy in Parliament, real name Jordi Castells. The four of us, with Laia (Teresa Comas) and Cebrià (myself), were part of the cell in Camp de Tarragona and the Barberá Basin of the Socialist Party for the National Liberation of the Catalan Countries (PSAN), the pro-independence party and left where we were militants. They were responsible for the propaganda apparatus of the clandestine organization and, logically with false IDs, they had signed the lease for the premises where the machines and all the propaganda infrastructure were located, but a flood in the premises had ruined everything and had forced them to abandon the floor with printing machines and all material inside already printed, waiting to be distributed. Since our house was not "burned down," even though we were both registered and had gone to jail, they came to take refuge until, after the initial fright, everything calmed down a bit.
Francesc, who, in fact, we all called Mireio, used to, in the morning, comment on the current play with witty reflections, while he walked around the floor filling his face with shaving foam with dexterous twists of the brush, while the radio did yours. Suddenly, that Thursday, November 20, 1975, the news left us frozen: Franco had died that morning. We spent a few seconds in silence, before reacting to an event that, despite being foreseeable, gave the impression that it should never happen. We kept changing the radio station to see what they were saying again, also trying to capture a foreigner that would add truth to the officially announced reality. I immediately went down to the Fontana subway kiosk to buy a copy of all the daily newspapers, which I still have, with the historical news. Some came to make up to four or five different editions, as new information arrived and also the first international reactions. The newsstand attended as best he could to the crowd of people who arranged to confirm with the force of the written word what radio and television claimed and which, euphemistically, was called "the biological fact" when referring to the imminent and foreseeable death of the dictator. The streets were full of children returning home, carrying the sandwich of the day and the messy school bag of the time, more disoriented than playful, with the school closing unexpectedly. The atmosphere was as special as the day, and everyone stared, stare at the eyes of other passersby to try to guess glances of complicity or symptoms that aligned them with a regime that had lost its reference. The landscape as always appeared different and planned a strange air of uncertainty, an unusual silence, a buried restlessness, a hope taken with pliers, while the crowd that moved up and down, not knowing if it was coming or going, knew that nothing would be anymore. the same as before because we had suddenly entered another era.
The news left us frozen. Although predictable, it gave the impression that it should never happen
For weeks we had hidden copies of the Struggle, the PSAN magazine, in a special undated edition, printed before the general's death, which announced in large letters: "Franco is dead, die to the dictatorship!" It will soon be half a century. More than once we had discussed with his companions: «And if he doesn't die, what? What are we going to fuck with all these magazines? We did not entertain conversations with the forced guests of the apartment and immediately loaded as many copies of the apartment Struggle as we could in our second-hand Seat 850 and headed for the road to Tarragona. On the brand new motorway the traffic volume was rather low and the day was sunny, a warm morning, a few pleasant hours, a bright Thursday in which it seemed that time had stopped and perhaps, forever, something else. Although I was in uniform (long hair, a jagged beard, navy blue jacket with a hood and a regulation bag packed full of magazines), with Teresa we went up as many stairs as we could along the Rambla Nova, including the section we called Vallellano, and streets closest, to leave the Struggle in the mailboxes. When we approached the building that now houses the Chamber of Commerce, then the headquarters of the police station, where the political-social brigade operated, we passed on the other side of the sidewalk and accelerated our pace, as a simple precaution, in front of a building whose external beauty did not make one think of all the darkness that was hidden. We needed to announce the death of the dictator and we did it with a mixture of the usual fear and a new security, almost defiant, each way we entered a different door or left a few magazines at the bottom of the stairs.
We went to eat at the Lina pizzeria on Calle Fortuny, the first to be opened in Tarragona, right in front of where the Bloc Obrer and Camperol headquarters were in the city in the 1930s. As usual, the clients were mostly young and, despite not knowing each other, everyone looked at each other out of the corner of their eyes, with a complicit gesture. The owners were Isaías, a man from Sabadell with a Protestant family and an eventful life, and Lina, the couple, a vivacious, kind-hearted Italian who was very pleased to flirt with clients, a magnificent prototype of all the physical and cultural clichés often attributed to the natives of his country. Both were apologizing to their customers for not having champagne to serve. But, after eating, to everyone's surprise, general envy, and sympathetic protests from some of the tables, Isaías approached us with a bottle of champagne and three glasses: one was his. He invited me to the house and I don't know where romances I should put him, but that day I polished off three pizzas, a gastronomic feat that I have never repeated. In the late afternoon, we continue mailing through less central streets, welcoming the enthusiasms or fears of some and the misgivings or pleasantries of others, until we end up with a very empty bag. It was a forgivable naiveté, but it gave us the impression that each magazine distributed brought us a little closer to the non-negotiable starting point: general amnesty, democratic freedoms, the Statute and the Generalitat as a way to exercise the right to self-determination. and solidarity with all the peoples of the State in the democratic combat. We were unaware that, right then, all basic principles began to have cracks, crevices and sinkholes and voices that were silent during the dictatorship appeared as outstanding soloists in the democratic concert in preparation. Franco was dead, yes. But the Franco regime, under various forms, should have lengthened his life. To reach the end of the road, we will have to wait for another sunny day, without deaths, but with all the full life that we have dreamed of so many times.