Sonata for a “new man”

Those of us who today are under forty had to be like the young man in the painting by Raúl Martínez, a hybrid of a man and a social model.  We would rest our chins in our hands and, surrounded by brilliant colors, we would watch a time of conquests and justice.  However, the resulting painting was left with shades of ochre, and the soft gesture of optimism was distorted into one of despair.

In order to shape us through work-study they sent us to high schools in the countryside.  They didn’t foresee, those “them,” who were already in their fifties and had forgotten the trembling of the flesh, that such a concentration of adolescent hormones, without parental control, was not going to be “squandered” in making the land produce.  Together with intensive learning about the “harvest” in other bodies, we also learned that the opportunists always manage things so as not to bend their backs to the furrow.  We noticed that, for those freeloaders, it was the kingdom of the future.

Then came the nineties and our parents, in record time, threw out the living room altars, began to blaspheme against the government and – like zombies – searched all over the house for the best place to hear the banned radio transmissions sent from the North.  This accelerated metamorphosis, happening all around us, equipped us with the dose of cynicism necessary to face similar frustrations.  A mixture of incredulity and pragmatism was the vaccine against disenchantment, but also the arid terrain where rebelliousness does not grow.

Past the patriotic poems declaimed in the morning, we sailed on the raft of disillusion that carried us to some other shore.  After so much “commitment,” so many “pioneer assemblies,” and so much marching with their signs and paper banners, we have ended by adopting as our gesture, so common, a shrug of the shoulders as we say, “So what’s it to me?”

I look at the young man painted by Raul Martinez and there is only one feature where I recognize myself.  He, like me, looks ahead, confident that better times will come.

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