Friday, June 3, 2011

Julio Ramón Ribeyro, on rue Gay Lussac

On rue Gay Lussac I run into the Colombian who traveled in my berth when I went back to Peru in 1958 on the Marco Polo. We were great friends then, living in a small space, reading, smoking, and drinking together. Now, six years later, we go by each other like two strangers, without the energy to stop and shake hands. It's not just the fragility of friendship that surprises me, but the coincidence of having run into each other in Paris, of the two of us having again occupied, even if just for a few seconds, a small space. The infinite linking of favorable circumstances for this meeting to take place. Since we said goodbye to each other in Cartagena in 1958, every act of his life and of mine had to be directed, regulated with inhuman precision, for us to arrive simultaneously on the same sidewalk. Any minor mistake yesterday or a week ago or a year ago would have prevented this meeting. In life, in reality, we don't do anything but run into people. With some we talk five minutes, with others we go from one station to the next, with others we live two or three years, with still others we cohabit ten or twenty. But at heart we don't do anything but run into each other (how long doesn't matter), run into each other and always by chance. And always part company.

From Prosas apátridas

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