Incomplete memories of a watch
by Cristián Ruiz
Translator: Cristóbal Pizarro Schkolnik
The following text is an excerpt from the play.
This play is fully protected under Chilean copyright laws.
Incomplete memories of a watch can be read from two different perspectives: the fiction of a pending confrontation between a daughter and her murderous father, out of time and space; or, on the other hand, between the daughter of a murderer and the family of one of the murderer's victims, in a unified space and time.
Up until that moment, there were only thousands of kilometers between him and me—a bunch of forgotten years and this old watch.
- He never stopped sending money – she said with a thoughtful look – and I'm not trying to defend him. But you know I can't stand even a couple of hours on a plane. It's because of my knees… what he's asking for demands energy, and he's only asking for one thing. For you to go.
- I'm not going, end of story.
- My god, so much hatred.
- I'll drop off the lunch box at the school.
- You don't have to go to the school, let Manu fix this.
- He's seven years old, mom! He may not remember what they did last Monday.
- Casandra –when she calls me Casandra, she awakes certain things in this area, here – let Manu solve it. He knows how to use a computer, ride a bike, and check your purse without you noticing. How is he not going to be able to fix his lunch situation at school?
- If I hurry, I'll catch him.
- Don't go. What you have to do now is get your suitcase ready, the plane leaves this evening.
- I have an audition, a very important one. It could change my career path.
- What does "okay" mean? – I replied, angry because I knew perfectly well what that "okay" meant.
A career path is a route, a road, a trail, the testimony of a journey.
- Your audition, the important one, that's in two weeks… you can prepare during the trip. Here's the ticket, it's in your name… and this envelope has your name on it too.
- What should I do about Manu?
- Manu is going to be okay. You can study for your audition on the plane.
- It's three different flights and two stops. You change planes in each.
- I'm going to call the person in charge of the cafeteria - she said as she started dialing on her phone, and right there and then I lost her again. Mom can get lost in her phone for hours: her girlfriends, questions to the doctor's office, yoga club, everything fits, everything works.
She said- Go- as if she were sure I would keep refusing.
- Wait… please hang up… What secret did Manu tell you?
- He likes a girl, but it's his man-secret, you're not supposed to know…
Men's secrets are walls, and women's are countless underground tunnels.
Almost two weeks later, here I am, in this corner, frozen by a man's secret. Taxis stop in front of me. It's probably because of the suitcase.
"No, thanks," I traveled already, I'm back now.
2.- To gradually disappear
I'm sure if my body is aching because of the trip, the wait, or the cold. I think I don't smell very well. Or is it this corner? I 'd like to gradually disappear. Become invisible. Or at least imperceptible to those early birds walking by me, who can surely smell my bad scent.
When we landed in Athens, I had a clear idea of what I was going to say to you.
- Years without hearing a word from you and all of a sudden you send a letter from Greece. Nothing less than Greece. This letter is what smells like shit.
I need you to forgive me for disappearing. For abandoning you. For having missed your caresses and your father's day presents. That's what I wanted you to say to me.
- I'm sorry, sir. I have an audition waiting for me once I go back to that long, thin country, where you completely abandoned me twenty-seven years ago, with an invisible sign on my back that everyone would read in silence.
I was planning a small conversation before you disappeared.
- That's how Clytemnestra learned to live with her daughter's murder and her husband's departure, that's how I learned to live without you. Your letters weren't enough. I never answered them for the same reason. I took refuge after endless rehearsals so I could pretend I didn't know.
Death remembered me, and I see women around me, dressed in black like Gorgons. "Dressed in black and tangled in multiple snakes, they go!" - I pictured you'd say something like that. That you'd speak to me from the world of the Greek.
- He won't be able to leave in peace because of his faults – I would have answered back. Don't the daughters of fascists have the right to become actresses?
The lawyer didn't understand a thing.
-It's because in Chile you can only be an artist if you are left-wing.
The lawyer is looking at me like I'm taking in Mandarin.
- The problem is that you weren't just another fascist. I always felt weird on your birthday, wanting to buy a present, and wanting you to have never been who you were. I hated your pictures. And while I was reading your letter, I hated your bosses as well. At some point in my early adulthood, some of them started falling, which made you right in the end. Nobody could judge you anymore. Today, only a few rot in jail. Others get "sick" before standing trial. And others like yourself continue to pay honor an agreement by living small lives abroad. Little by little, you disappeared from the eye of the storm.
I would like to put together a good excuse to knock on that door and disappear behind it. Little by little, I would like to disappear from this corner too, but I can't, my feet aren't moving.
- For fuck's sake, I can't move!-
- Do you need anything? – a young man asks me.
- No – I answer back. How could I explain that I only needed to walk towards that door?
3.- I never wanted you to be my dad
- No, he doesn't live here anymore.
- Is there any chance you could give us some information on how to find him? – they'd asked my mother from the district attorney's office.
- He holds very valuable information. The victim's relatives would be very grateful for any help he could give us. Their lawyers begged because they knew you would never let go of your memories… you promised not to.
- No, I'm sorry. Just imagine - we lost track of him years ago. Hey, let me give you some advice: forget about this. He might as well be dead. – my mom would answer and then hang up the phone – He was just doing his job.
And since you also agreed to be part of that Pact of Silence, there was nothing you could do other than run out of the country, and we were left on our own.
She wasn't a saint; she was skating on thin ice like all of you. But above all, she was a mom. And she always hid the fear of justice laying its eyes on her. She was a mom that made lots of mistakes but learned from them. She was a mom with little patience, but she was more selfless and hard-working than tons of left-wing moms. And I hated you for that too.
She was a mom that wrinkled faster than other moms. But rose earlier than all those humble and poor moms that went out to protest. She was a mom that dyed her hair, didn't know how to put makeup on, and got stains on her skin while the other moms had nice skin, but never got sick. She was a mom that would put on a dad's face when she had to put the shoulder to the wheel, put a working woman's face at work, and put a creative cook's face on Sundays just because she had to be one. And you just left because you were doing your job?
And I didn't want to hate you because you ran away. I wanted to hate you for other reasons.
Then one day, I confessed to myself:
- I never wanted you to be my dad!
I hated every single one of my boyfriends that started behaving like a father when they heard I didn't have you.
I hated my friends when they drifted apart after knowing who you were.
I hated my neighbors the first time we had to leave a neighborhood because every September, we'd get stones thrown at our roof. And more than once, I hated human rights lawyers because you'd have always been by my side hadn't it been for them.
I hated the relatives of the disappeared, those who published your name over and over again on those lists of people to hate, legally useless but good for public scorning and mocking our space of memory, if they managed to associate us to your name, appearing among other names to hate.
I hated my mom for not making this trip. And I also hated her for making me go.
And as you left before I made it here, I started studying next to your bed:
"I don't think he had a disgraceful death.
Didn't he cause a disgrace to this house through deceit?
But he indecently treated my flower that blossomed from him,
to my weeping Iphigenia, and has suffered what he deserved".
You say: I was only doing my job. Wasn't there another way of making a living, you old piece of shit? I hated you for using dark glasses.
4.- A watch
She loved your dark glasses.
What if mom had been less arrogant? More docile maybe. Maybe we would all have left together—the three of us.
What was wrong with her? What was wrong with me? I was only thirteen when you hugged me, and I noticed you didn't have your watch on. You walked out the front door and got in the cab that was waiting outside - with only one suitcase. You just couldn't take us with you - could you, you shitty old man?
-Excuse me, miss? What was it you said? – an old man asks.
-It's not with you – it's with my dad that decided to do his job. Running away, disappearing for eternity, then sending a letter asking for someone to help him to die without saying sorry.
5.- The music of the heart
- Now, some secrets will be sealed forever in that heart.
I have no more words of consolation for anyone.
I have no explanations, neither for my son nor for me, but I can't show him this letter.
- I'm sorry, I don't want to seem unsympathetic – the lawyer whispers to me – It's a good moment to start looking at permits, papers, everything – I look at him – The process is demanding and time flyes- the lawyer in the room is a thousand kilometers away.
Every heart beats differently. For instance, Manu is like a thousand African drums playing a war alarm call when he's excited about something, and like a foal's gallop when he finally sleeps. Mom is a pedal sewing machine.
Mine is a mixture of all that.
And now you won't be emotional ever again with a foal's gallop nor the call of an African tribe. – I wanted to tell him, but I didn't because he wasn't listening to me anymore.
Cast: Nataly Nicloux
Director: Coca Duarte
Design: Natalia Morales
Sound universe: Tomás González
Production: Bastián Panadés
Company La Maquinateatro
Incomplete memories of a watch premiered in July 2019, at Teatro Camilo Henríquez.
This play was part of the "Rebelión de Las Voces 2018" festival and was selected by a jury to be published with Ril Editores.
To contact the author, write to us.
The Interdram Interviews 2020 are funded by the Ministry of Arts and Culture (Fondart Nacional de Difusión convocatoria