The drama of the enchanted

A recent experience lived by the author reminds him of the drama of the disenchanted guy in Gabriel García Márquez's micro-story, which gives rise to a reflection on his own life.

Vitus Ntube-April 26, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes

Haruki Murakami has a short story entitled "Drive my car". It is a story with which I cannot claim to have things in common with me. I drive, but I can't drive here in Rome and I don't have my own car. The protagonist of the story of Murakami He always sensed a certain tension and felt a kind of friction in the air when he was driven by women. He came to the conclusion, based on the times he had ridden in cars driven by women, that most female drivers fell into one of two categories: they were either a little too aggressive or a little too timid. I can't claim to own his conclusion, but there are certain things I can claim from the story. I can claim that I have "traveled" in many cars on the roads of Rome, and without any nervousness. He "traveled"In these cars not from the passenger seats but from my friend's car. Let me explain.

Whenever I go out with my friend, I sometimes observe what is going on in the other cars around me. It is an experience that I find rich and unique. Of course, I don't tune out the many conversations I have with my friend along the way, but from time to time I tend to look out the window at the parallel vehicle or what I might find on the shoulder.

My recent experience in doing this reminded me of the drama of that disenchanted guy in the micro-story by Gabriel García Márquez. The guy "threw himself into the street from the tenth floor, and as he fell he was seeing through the windows the intimacy of his neighbors, the little domestic tragedies, the furtive loves, the brief moments of happiness, news of which had never reached the common staircase, so that in the instant of bursting against the pavement of the street he had completely changed his conception of the world, and had come to the conclusion that that life which he was leaving forever through the back door was worth living."

I had a similar experience through the windows of the cars on the road. My experience through the windows, instead of being vertical like the disenchanted guy on the tenth floor, was horizontal next to the parallel cars on the road.

The other afternoon, with my friend, we passed by a small car. Fiat, with an older couple having a gentle conversation. I could tell by the rhythm of their lip movements. 

At the stoplight, as well as two cars on the pole of a career of Formula 1I could see the other car nearby for the few seconds it took for the red light to turn green. I saw a mother and her young son in their sports clothes. The boy was wearing the clothes of a soccer team from Rome. I saw the shield. It had the image of the she-wolf feeding two small children: Romulo y RowingNostalgic! It conjured up an image of a soccer team I had at the time with my friends. Our team was called Romulus and Remus. It was a name we chose to express the fraternity that existed on our team. The young man had a tired look on his face, watching a video on his phone with his headphones plugged in. Maybe he was watching certain YouTube videos about soccer stuff. 

Just then the traffic light turned green and my friend sped out of the line. There was no time to see the tired young man and his mother on their way home. We left them behind. The road was clear, just seconds away from rejoining the group ahead of us. Just then I saw a stone statue. Very common in Rome. I remembered Julius Caesar thanks to the sonnets of Shakespeare have been my dose of poetry these days. I spontaneously repeated these words to myself: "Beware of the ides of March". It dawned on me that the next day was the Ides of March. The words of Gross became immediately relevant: "Isn't tomorrow, my boy, the ides of March?". Could this be fate, what is he telling me? Before I could begin to dissect with my friend what luck and fate might mean-it's the kind of conversation he likes-the words of Casio The fault, dear Brutus, lies not with our stars, but with ourselves, who consent to be inferior"! I quickly abandoned the thought, as the parallel cars kept changing. The next window I could see was that of two young ladies in a small car. Smartall smiling and happy. Delighted for them.

In the next window was a man in a suit and tie, apparently on a phone call, because he was gesticulating as he drove. He must have had a long day at work.

In the next window, or rather, in the car with the window open, there was a guy in his early twenties I guess, with music audible to fellow drivers on the road. I say audible music and not blaring. The difference should not be overlooked. 

At that point we passed over a small bridge. I saw again what I have seen many times. Locked padlocks on bridges with names on them. Names like Paolo and Francesca o Romeo and Juliet Isn't it true that young people still think of love between two people as something that should last forever? I don't think this is naivete, but rather a reflection of the innocent yearnings of what surrender in true love should be.

Of course, there were many other windows, but the one that gave my friend another topic of conversation was that of a mother, grandmother and two daughters. The daughters, in the background, conversing with their mother and grandmother. Three generations in a joyful dialogue. The Pope Francis was right when he said recently: "If this sap does not come, if this "dripping" -let us say so- from the roots does not come, they will never be able to bloom. Let us not forget that poet that I have quoted so many times: "What is flowery in the tree lives from what is buried in it" (Francisco Luis Bernárdez). Everything that is beautiful in a society is related to the roots of the elderly.

I turned to my friend and told him in Italian: "¡!La vita è bella!"(Life is Beautiful!) and told me that the film is one of his favorites, thinking of the 1997 film of Roberto Benigni. I told him that I had just seen another version in the last few minutes and that, indeed, life is worth living. Luckily, I didn't need the drama of the disenchanted guy to remind me.

The authorVitus Ntube

La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.