Meeting Jesus and some very old memories
Jesus explaining his philosophy of life, Spain
Quite some years ago when there was no Covid, nor any Brexit this man took a shine to me. Yes, he did! He bought me a drink; discretely mind so there was no pressure. When I acknowledged the drink he flipped down his wallet and showed me his family photos, not so well preserved, faded, but very dear to him.
His name was Jesus. And I am re-publishing this because it really seems a generation ago. It was so long ago that you could still smoke inside the bars. How the years fly by!
The bar owner at the time was called Nacho and he said Jesus came in twice a month, and never without his hat. He lived on his own with a few goats up the mountain. I gave him a peck on the cheek to thank him for the drink and he blushed. I promised him a snap to add to his collection and he asked me for three. One for his mother, one for his girlfriend, and the other for his wallet.
The next time I saw Jesus, I had forgotten and he was clearly agitated. You better get me those photos the next time you come over, or I will kill you, he stated in only a half-joking way. He stood up unsteadily and for the first time I noticed his foot – it was turned out at 90 degrees. He grabbed for a pair of crutches to steady himself. I wondered how he managed to monthly visit into town as it was clear he could not drive himself.
Two weeks later I brought him four photos – an extra larger one to put over his fire. He bought me another drink and was really very happy with the photos, turning them over and over again as if they were magic cards.
Since then I had not seen him for at least a year and thought about him from time to time. Then I became worried, and asked Nacho about the man who comes in sometimes, where was he, was he ill? Oh, he still comes in, he was here two Tuesdays ago.
Finally, a few days later I ran into him again and he was in fine form, garrulous, happy and full of humour. He actually looked younger than the first time I met him. He told me that he was 83, and that he has had a lot of girlfriends, and even a child or two, out of wedlock. I am very good with my tongue, he joked.
I found out that his present girlfriend, who I was told fathered a child with him many years ago, drove him in twice monthly so that he could have a drink. They were neighbours.
I wondered about his mother. Was she still alive? How old was she last year when he asked for the photo to give her? My Spanish was getting marginally better by the day, but the locals can be very difficult to understand with their multitudes of dialects. For the same reason they find it hard to understand me. Jesus was no exception.
Instead of answering the question about his mother, he took out a crisp well-preserved 100 peseta bill to show me. It was in better condition than his photos and dated 1931, so therefore from the time when Spain was still a Republic. Why did you keep that, I asked Jesus? To remember, he replied. Life is beautiful, he explained, looking wistfully at me.
I left the man who came in from time to time with his memories and later looked up the value in present day terms of 100 pesetas. About one pound sterling. A memory well kept.
Sadly Jesus passed away of heart failure 10 days after I first published this blog. He was alone in his finca. I was in England, it was November 25th, and my mother had just turned 85. So 8 years ago. RIP Jesus.