junio 09, 2016

A Christmas for Real!

December the first! The day had arrived! Little Johnny hardly had any sleep the night before. He was now seven years old, and this was the day he'd been waiting for since he learned how to read and write a few months ago.
He could finally write his own "letter to Santa." It was his mother who wrote them for him in previous Christmases, but they were heavily censored, and apparently she didn't write very well, because many of the things he had asked Santa for, he either didn't get or were replaced by things he hadn't asked for; and which, frankly, he didn't like.
Besides, his mother was always trying to convince him to ask for other toys. For example, when he asked for a toy race car he had seen on TV, a "dinky toy," like all his friends had, he got instead a white ambulance, small and very pretty, but how can you run races with an ambulance? He knew ambulances always went very fast because of the sick and everything, but they never competed in a race!
  "Mom... have you ever seen an ambulance in a car race? What are my friends going to say?"
  "Aw Johnny, I think it's very nice. When you dad watches the races, I always see there's an ambulance."
  "But mom, that's for the accidents; they never race against the other cars!"
  "Don't worry, your friends will like it."
But little Johnny worried, so he ended up camouflaging the ambulance with crayons and leaves so he could say it was a "war vehicle. " The same thing happened when he asked for a real rifle and Santa brought him instead a tin rifle that shot a tiny cork, which was tied with a string so it wouldn't get lost.
So now that he knew how to write, he was going to make his own list, without any intermediaries. But since his writing was not perfect and it could have some orthographic mistakes, he thought of Mario, his neighbor, who was about four years older than him, who without censuring his letter, could help him correct any mistakes.
Little Johnny had everything planned. It would take him three days to write the letter, one day to correct it with Mario, and one day to put in an envelope and wait for the postman - who came by every day.
Although almost no one knew the postman, little Johnny had established a friendship with him without anybody noticing it. He asked him where letters went, who got the most in the neighborhood, and how they were sent. He learned about stamps and everything.
One afternoon in November, he dared ask the postman how much it would cost to send a letter to the North Pole, to Santa specifically. The postman, smiling, told him that letters to Santa were free and needed no stamps. Then little Johnny asked if he could give the letter to him when he was done writing it; to which the postman replied: "But of course! I'll make sure it goes out on the first shipment to the North Pole. "
Little Johnny smiled mischievously. Everything was taken care of. Now Santa would be receiving the original information, not via third-parties. There would be no misunderstandings, no erroneous interpretations.
So this day he got up. It was Saturday and everybody was sleeping in, especially his sisters, four in all, who were always on his case. They were always talking nonsense, cried about anything, and never paid attention to his problems. In particular Monica, the eldest, made his life impossible. He had a strange premonition this would haunt him for the rest of his life.
He had brought from the school some sheets of double-lined paper, where he could write easier. He sat down at his tiny table and began the letter. After careful consideration, he decided it would be better to get right to the point. His mother used to remind him of the good things he had done, and of times when he misbehaved, and to little Johnny's embarrassment and detriment, she would write that down on the letter. He thought it was best to just say he had been good "in general," without getting into details, and that he had good grades. This last point was very good, since Santa could ask the school and for sure they would give good references, in particular Miss Becky, who was very fond of him. Unlike Ms. Carmen, the Spanish teacher, who probably didn't have anything nice to say about him; but the grades were there, and they don't lie.
Immediately he proceeded to the part he had practically memorized: "for Christmas I would like..."
Little Johnny had given a lot of thought to what he wanted for Christmas and how to avoid getting presents that didn't match his specifications. He was pretty well-organized for his age. He looked for a way in which his wishes would not be misinterpreted, like the cork gun he got instead of the real thing. His dad said "but son, it's real. It doesn't shoot bullets, but it shoots." There was some truth to that
After three full days, and numerous attempts, he finally figured it out! He had the perfect solution. It was foolproof. There was no way he could be getting something different from what he asked. And so he continued with the letter: "...a real dog, a real cat, a real elephant, a real giraffe, a real whale, a real lion, a real tiger..."
The list was long. After he was done, little Johnny had asked for 26 real animals. This couldn't fail. Real animals are alive, so Santa couldn't mistake that for something else.
He finished the letter, and on Sunday he went to see Mario, who knew he was to only correct orthographical and grammatical errors, since little Johnny had made it clear this was the scope of his job.
A smirking Mario corrected the letter and said:
  "Johnny, don't you think those are too many animals? Santa doesn't bring that many gifts for anybody."
  "Yes, I thought about that," replied Johnny, "but I'll be happy if he brings me 10."
  "But even 10 is too many," said Mario.
  "But you don't understand Mario," continued Johnny, "when my mother wrote the letters for me, we would end up asking for four or five gifts, and end up getting only two or three. So that's why I now ask for more."
Shrugging his shoulders, Mario says:
  "I don't think that's the way it works, but it's your letter Johnny."
Back in his room, and with the door blocked so his sisters couldn't barge in, he proceeded to place the letter in an envelope, sealing it with glue so it wouldn't open easily, and using another letter as a sample, he wrote his name and address on the back of the envelope. Then he turned it over and on the front center he wrote in big letters:
Mr. Santa
North Pole
Planet Earth
He patiently waited for the postman to come by. On Friday he finally came, and little Johnny ran to meet him: "Alex! Alex! Here's my letter to Santa." Alex, tired from delivering so many Christmas cards, and annoyed because the neighbours had not tipped him as much as is customary on Christmas, accepted the letter without any fanfare, "okay, I'll send it over," he said and continued on his tiresome journey.
When his day was done, the postman got home and placed the letter on a table top, where it remained for many days. On December the 24th, Alex - who had that day off - noticed Johnny's letter. He had intended to give this letter to little Johnny's parents, so they would know what he wanted.
Alex was a lonely character. He never married. He had short flings with two or three women, but that went nowhere. An only child, he was a full of idiosyncrasies and was a hopeless bachelor approaching 60. He was very shy, hardly had any friends, but he was a very good person. Whenever he could, he would help someone in need, and always preferred to remain anonymous.
He hadn't seen little Johnny since he had given him the letter. He wondered how he would feel when he saw that he didn't get any of the presents he had asked for in his letter. It was too late to talk with his parents. They wouldn't have time to buy anything, and they would probably give him a hard time for ruining little Johnny's Christmas.
He felt his heart shrink and decided to open the letter. A few years ago, at an office Christmas party, they asked him to dress as Santa because he was chubby. He tried to get out of it but ended up having to suit up as Santa and spending the whole party having other employees' kids sitting on his lap and giving each one of them a present. It wasn't too bad after all. He had always liked kids. So a thought crossed his mind. It was a bit adventurous for him, but he felt he had no choice... until he read little Johnny's letter.
It was almost ten at night, and all stores were closing. He quickly retrieved his old Santa suit, put it on, shaved his big moustache so he could glue in the white beard and moustache. Put on the white wig, and he thought he'd done a pretty good job when he checked himself in the mirror.
With just the letter and his wallet, he raced to the closest pet store around. They were already closing, and he explained his predicament. The shop owner let him in, and Alex immediately saw what he was looking for. It was like a shiny golden ball, with jet black eyes and an almost human gaze. He could easily fit in one hand.
The puppy cost almost a month's salary for Alex, but he bought it without hesitation. As he was leaving, the owner said "You should know this is a purebred Golden Retriever, son of champions. I have all the papers; you can pick them up any time you wish."
The postman smiled and thought to himself that those papers would never be necessary. They gave the puppy to him in a cardboard box, with holes so it could breathe. Alex had no car, and there was no public transportation at that time of the night. He figured it would take him an hour and a half to make it to little Johnny's house. He started walking briskly.
Meanwhile, at little Johnny's house, John and Lucy were very worried. They four daughters had given them their letters to Santa, but they couldn't get little Johnny to give them one. Whenever they asked him for it, little Johnny would tell them not to worry about it, that it had all been taken care of. With his seven years, little Johnny would sometimes amaze with his answers and stubbornness. More than stubborn, he was obstinate and perseverant. Once he made up his mind, it was very difficult to get him to change his mind.
His father would tell him:
  "Look son, if you don't give me the letter, I won't be able to send it, and Santa won't know what to bring you. I warn you, you'll end up with no presents!"
  "Dad, he already knows what I want," little Johnny would reply, "I don't need to send another letter."
John and Lucy figured he must've written a letter himself and dropped it in the post box. So his mother, Lucy, insisted:
  "Letters can get lost, and if they don't have enough stamps, they get returned, and it would be too late by then."
But little Johnny had all the answers:
  "Don't you know, mom, that letters to Santa don't need stamps? Everyone knows that..."
Lucy anguished a lot. Her pampered little man of the house, so independent and rational, was sometimes too much for her. John was more practical. He kept trying to glean what toy he wanted form innumerable choices, but little Johnny wouldn't budge. They were not aware that little Johnny was afraid they would contact Santa and make changes to his requests, or something like that.
Finally, John lost his cool and told Lucy:
  "This kid is stubborn as a mule! Screw it! I'm getting him a pair of dinky cars, a beach bucket, and a football. If he likes them, fine; if not, then he'll learn his lesson for next time. We'll have to tell him that his letter got lost because he didn't hand it to us."
  "Aw John," said Lucy, "Poor thing. It breaks my heart. He's so special. Sometimes I feel so proud of him and other times he drives me crazy."
  "You're right," agreed John, "he's a good boy, and very mature for his age. We'll see how this pans out."
Finally midnight came around. After exchanging greetings, the kids ran to the Christmas tree to open their presents. Little Johnny was standing in front of the tree, and couldn't see any of his animals. Lackadaisically, he opened his presents - which were not at all what he had asked for. He thought to himself: "So what that fat Murphy kid says is true; Santa doesn't exist, and the presents are bought by our parents."
He was experiencing his first great disappointment and felt great pain. All that effort for naught!
Alex kept walking in a hurry, and 20 minutes past midnight, he makes it to little Johnny's house. He had to take a few minutes break to dry his sweat, catch his breath, and arrange his costume. Exhausted, he knocks on the door. Lucy opens the door, and when she heard the man dressed as Santa say: "Good evening Ma'am, is little Johnny home?" She didn't know what to say, and simply pointed to him.
Little Johnny lifted his head and his heart stopped. There was Santa in the flesh, with a box in his hands! When he summoned him, little Johnny couldn't tell if he was floating in air or if his feet were moving. When he got to Santa, he heard him say: "Little Johnny, I'm sorry I'm late; this was a very busy night for me, but I wanted to come personally to tell you that a letter to Santa is not a list of everything you'd like to have. It should be just one thing; the one you want the most. I can't bring toys to many children because I don't have enough time or enough presents to give out. You're fortunate, and because of that I've brought you one of the 26 things you had in your list. But next year, I want you to think carefully about what you want to ask for."
Then he handed little Johnny the box. Upon opening it, little Johnny looked at the puppy and exclaimed: "Noel!" while the small puppy jumped up to lick his face. From that moment on, Noel and little Johnny became inseparable, and they both knew they'd be together for a lifetime.
John and Lucy were stunned. After Santa said good bye to little Johnny and the girls - who were speechless, he got to the door and John asked what that was all about.
Alex lied: "You don't know me, but I found his letter on the street, and I thought about the kid not getting anything this Christmas. I can't help every child who'll be getting nothing this Christmas, but I decided to help at least one. Good night and Merry Christmas."
Evidently, no one recognized him. Only Noel, who knew the truth, wagged his tail enthusiastically each time he saw Alex, and jumped up and put his front paws on his chest, since he had become a very big dog.
The following year, little Johnny wrote a new letter, which this time made it to his parents. It just said: "Dear Santa, I've behaved very well this year and I've gotten excellent grades. For Christmas, I want you to give my present to another kid, who got nothing last year."
John and Lucy were teary-eyed, and from that year on, they organize for Christmas deliveries of presents to poor families in the area. Nobody knows what eventually became of Alex.
Little Johnny grew up to be a veterinarian, and to this day he's convinced that, mysteriously, Santa does exist.
And that was a "for real" Christmas.

mayo 23, 2016

To my Granddaughter

My dear granddaughter,

In a few weeks you will be five years old. I can’t believe it's been so long since you came to enlighten my life and give me a better perspective of it. It is usually said that children should be grateful for their parents, who have dedicated much of their life to give them the necessary things to move ahead. And even though it is still true, the joy of seeing them flourish and develop to get ahead is not mentioned. At the end, what every parent wants for their children is to be happy, and in most cases this does not come without a great deal of pain and frustration, along with the joy and satisfaction of seeing a child grow.

That gratitude says nothing about what parents owe to their children. The best way to describe this debt is learning that human beings need to understand their peers and do for them what is right, not what they want. If parents have not learned this lesson from their children, then they did not do their job well.

However, little is said about what grandparents owe to grandchildren. Oh My God! Where to begin? The first day I saw you, without any logical explanation, my emotional and spiritual structures teetered dangerously. Not to mention social structures. They were pulverized.

You know me well. And you know that your grandfather is very sentimental and walks with his emotions running high all the time. How could you not know? Despite your young age, you manipulate him expertly so that with extreme happiness, your grandfather litters the floor with you to play or lets you jump over him, hit him, tweak him, and allows you to think that his face is more malleable than the dough we use to build your cookies and dinosaurs. To learn how and when to ask for the Teddy Bear you want or the candy you shouldn’t eat, and even make him a criminal in the eyes of your mother and your grandmother for giving you what you should not have. In addition, you have no qualms about tattling on him despite having promised you are not going to say anything.

But your grandfather is happy to be your accomplice, your horse, your toy or whatever you want him to be and take the blame for your pranks with ease. I confess that when you make me wear makeup and bracelets and beads I really don’t enjoy it. But inside I’m overwhelmed me with so tender and warm feelings that my academic and professional achievements are dwarfed and are made to appear vain.

How can this be explained? At the age of your grandfather, a man is full of scars and wounds that are the result of going through life with the daily struggles, betrayals, deceptions, manipulations and conflicts with other human beings in this constant race against time and against others. Be the best, be the one, be the one who won…

The older you are, the more difficult it is to achieve relations where one is willing to give everything without receiving anything in return. You become cautious and careful when approaching another person. Old people are not willing to open their heart and even less their soul. Risk analysis, cost benefit ratio, what I have to give and what will I get. In a word, relationships with other human beings are increasingly resembling business relationships. And many times we prefer to keep what we have for fear of being hurt or mistreated.

You will ask me:
-        Why is it so? When I want to play, I play, and if someone wants to hurt me, I defend myself or I avoid it, but at least I try it. Besides, I forget it after a while.

I'll give you an example that will be easy for you to understand. When it rains, you see that adults take an umbrella to go out and not get wet. They even prefer not to go anywhere due to bad weather. 

This is what most people do because it is a nuisance to be walking around all soaked. But you prefer to go out and get wet and play with water and mud and have fun and more fun. And you love it. In past days, adults were like you but today they have forgotten it and prefer to protect themselves from the very thing you like so much.

It's the same with feelings and emotions. So often they have been damaged and abused by opening their heart, that they prefer to keep it in a box so nobody can even touch it. Then, as you lose the fun of playing in the rain, you lose the ability to love and give what you have to others so you can go through life well protected. You stop getting involved and commit because it is the price you pay for having saved your heart. Of course, nobody can hurt you. And of course, no one can give you anything because you have nowhere to put it. Your heart no longer receives visitors.

Almost all older people are like that. There comes a time where we forget we have that little box with our heart inside and we even lose the key.

Then one day, someone like you comes into our lives. A grandson, a granddaughter. And suddenly, everything changes. The box is broken, the heart erupts violently into your life and all the love you had saved fills your life and your being. And when you see a little person who weighs nothing, says nothing and everything he or she does it is poo-poo (lots of it), plus wail loudly and drink milk and more milk.

That’s when our life changes. We are happy like we were many years ago. The world is full of sunshine and our lives full of joy and rejoicing. The heart is beating again hard and the box has been broken forever.

We start to see people differently, we become more friendly, more loving, more understanding. We understand once and for all that neither we nor others are perfect. It is normal to make mistakes and have weaknesses. And we began to see everything more clearly. Finally, life has meaning, the joy of living returns and as Scrooge discovers in the story of Dickens, "A Christmas Carol" we see that it is not too late, that life is wonderful and we have every right in the world to live it with joy and happiness.

Now you have a little sister. Like when you were born, for now she does nothing and yet she does it all. I do not want you to get jealous, but I again feel the same as when you were born. And if some more come, it will happen the same. But you'll always be unique and unrepeatable, as will your sister and all who come. They all will be the most loved, always. And each one of you will be my favorite.

I hope someday you can read this. I write it with that purpose. But more important is that you understand and know what grandparents owe to grandchildren.

Grandchildren are responsible for giving grandparents a reason to live when they think everything is over for them. And that, my dear granddaughter, cannot be bought with all the gold in the world.

Your grandfather who adores you,


mayo 10, 2016

A mi Nieta

Mi querida nieta, en unas pocas semanas cumplirás cinco años. Me parece mentira que haya pasado tanto tiempo desde que llegaste a iluminar mi vida y darle una mejor perspectiva. Usualmente se dice que los hijos deben estar agradecidos de tener a sus padres, que han dedicado una buena parte de su vida a darles las cosas necesarias para que salieran adelante. Y no deja de ser cierto, pero no se menciona la alegría de verlos florecer y desarrollarse para salir adelante. Al final lo que cada padre desea es que sus hijos sean felices, y en la mayoría de los casos, esto no llega sin una gran dosis de dolor y frustración, dentro del regocijo y satisfacción que produce tener y ver crecer a un hijo.

Esa gratitud de la que se habla no dice nada de lo que los padres les deben a los hijos. La mejor manera de describir esa deuda es el aprendizaje que un ser humano necesita para entender a sus semejantes y hacer por ellos lo que es correcto, no lo que quieren. Si un padre no ha aprendido esta lección de sus hijos, entonces no ha hecho bien su trabajo.

Sin embargo, poco se habla de lo que les deben los abuelos a los nietos. ¡Dios mío! ¿Por dónde empezar? El primer día que te vi y sin explicación lógica alguna, mis estructuras emocionales y espirituales se tambalearon peligrosamente. Ni qué decir de las estructuras sociales. Fueron pulverizadas.

Tú me conoces bien. Y sabes que tu abuelo es muy sentimental y camina con sus emociones a flor de piel. ¿Cómo no saberlo? A pesar de tu corta edad, lo manipulas expertamente para que, con una felicidad extrema, tu abuelo se tire al suelo contigo a jugar o deje que saltes encima de él, lo golpees, pellizques, y creas que su cara es mas maleable que la plastilina que usamos para construir tus galletas y dinosaurios. Para saber cómo y cuándo pedirle ese peluche que quieres o esa golosina que no debes comer, y llegas incluso a hacer de él un delincuente a los ojos de tu mamá y tu abuela por darte lo que no debes. Además, no tienes reparo en denunciarlo a pesar de haberme prometido que no les vas a decir nada.

Pero tu abuelo es feliz de ser tu cómplice, tu caballo, tu juguete o lo que quieras que sea y de asumir la culpa de tus travesuras con gusto. Confieso que cuando me quieres maquillar y ponerme pulseritas y abalorios, no lo paso bien. Pero por dentro me embarga un sentimiento tan tierno y cálido que mis logros académicos y profesionales se empequeñecen y se hacen hasta vanos.

¿Cómo se puede explicar esto? A la edad de tu abuelo, un hombre está lleno de cicatrices y heridas que son producto de pasar por la vida con la lucha diaria, las traiciones, los engaños, las manipulaciones y las pugnas con otros seres humanos en esa permanente carrera contra el tiempo y contra los demás. Ser el mejor, ser el único, ser el que ganó, vamos.

Cuantos más años se tienen, mas difícil resulta lograr relaciones en que uno esté dispuesto a darlo todo sin recibir nada a cambio. Uno se vuelve precavido y cauteloso al acercarse a otra persona. No se está dispuesto a abrir el corazón y menos aún, el alma. Se analiza el riesgo, se ve el costo beneficio, el qué tengo que dar y qué voy a obtener. En una palabra, el relacionarse con otros seres humanos es cada vez más parecido a una relación comercial. Y muchas veces preferimos guardar lo que tenemos por temor a ser heridos o maltratados.

Tú me preguntarás: ¿Por qué es así? Cuando yo quiero jugar, juego y si alguien me quiere hacer daño, me defiendo o lo evito, pero por lo menos lo intento. Además, lo olvido al poco rato.

Te voy a poner un ejemplo que te será fácil de entender. Cuando llueve, ves que los adultos toman el paraguas para salir a la calle y no mojarse. Incluso prefieren no salir a ninguna parte por el mal tiempo. Esto lo hace la mayoría de las personas porque es una molestia andar empapado por ahí. Pero tu prefieres salir y mojarte y jugar con el agua y el barro porque quieres divertirte, pasarlo bien. Y te encanta. Los adultos fueron algún día como tu pero hoy lo han olvidado y prefieren protegerse de aquello que a ti te gusta tanto.

Es lo mismo con los sentimientos y las emociones. Tantas veces se han visto dañados y maltratados por abrir el corazón, que prefieren guardarlo en una cajita para que nadie pueda siquiera tocarlo. Entonces, así como pierdes la diversión de jugar en la lluvia, pierdes la capacidad de amar y de dar lo que tienes a otras personas y vas por la vida así, protegido. Dejas de involucrarte y comprometerte porque es el precio que pagas por tener tu corazón guardado. Eso sí, ya nadie te puede hacer daño. Y claro, nadie te puede dar nada porque no tienes donde ponerlo. Tu corazón ya no recibe visitas.

Casi todas las personas mayores somos así. Incluso llega un momento que olvidamos que tenemos esa cajita con el corazón dentro y perdemos hasta la llave.

Entonces un buen día, llega a nuestras vidas alguien como tú. Un nieto, una nieta. Y de repente, todo cambia. La cajita se rompe, el corazón irrumpe estruendosamente en tu vida y todo el amor que tenías guardado inunda tu ser y tu vida. Todo por ver una personita que no pesa nada, que no dice nada y que todo lo que hace es caquita (bastante) y pila, además de llorar sonoramente y tomar leche y mas leche.

Desde ese momento, nuestra vida cambia. Nos sentimos felices como muchos años atrás. El mundo se llena de sol y nuestra vida de alegría y regocijo. El corazón vuelve a latir con fuerza y la cajita se ha roto para siempre.

Empezamos a ver a las personas de manera diferente, nos volvemos más amigables, más cariñosos, más comprensivos. Entendemos de una buena vez por todas que ni nosotros ni los demás somos perfectos. Que es normal cometer errores y tener debilidades. Y empezamos a ver todo con más claridad. Finalmente, la vida tiene sentido, la alegría de vivir regresa y tal como Scrooge descubre en la historia de Dickens, “Cuento de Navidad”, vemos que aún no es tarde, que la vida es maravillosa y que tenemos todo el derecho del mundo para vivirla así, con júbilo y regocijo.

Ahora ya tienes una hermanita, Al igual que tu cuando naciste, por ahora no hace nada y sin embargo hace todo. No quiero que te pongas celosa, pero he vuelto a sentir lo mismo que cuando naciste. Y si vienen más, volverá a pasarme lo mismo. Pero tu serás siempre única e irrepetible, como lo será tu hermana y todos los que vengan. Todos serán aquel y aquella al que más quiero, siempre. Y cada uno de ustedes será mi preferido.

Espero que algún día puedas leer esto. Lo escribo con ese propósito. Pero más importante es que lo comprendas y sepas que es lo que les deben los abuelos a los nietos.

Los nietos son los responsables de que los abuelos tengan una razón para vivir cuando piensan que ya todo ha terminado para ellos. Y eso, mi nieta querida, no se puede pagar con todo el oro del mundo.

Tu abuelo que te adora,


marzo 31, 2016

El Sordo Que Quería Oir

El antiguo refrán “No hay peor sordo que el que no quiere oír” encierra una gran verdad y es que solo escuchamos y oímos aquello que queremos. Cuando le dicen a uno que está haciendo algo incorrecto, misteriosas barreras mentales cambian el significado y sentido de la advertencia.

Hay miles de ejemplos. El octogenario que cree que la rubia voluptuosa de veinte años lo quiere por ser él y no por su dinero, el pequeñín que se obstina en creer que Papa Noel existe, a pesar de haber escuchado a los adultos discutir sobre los regalos que le van a hacer en Navidad o el adolescente que tercamente tiene un amor silencioso y apasionado con una chica que a todas luces es atraída por otro muchacho. Para ellos, no importan frases como estas:

-        Pero papá, ¿no te das cuenta que le llevas sesenta años y que no hay manera que esta niña frívola y coqueta esté enamorada de ti?
-        Ya pues Coquito, es tiempo que te des cuenta que los juguetes te los trae tu papá. Es más, así puedes lograr que te traigan lo que más te gusta, porque se lo puedes decir veinte veces en vez de ponerlo en una carta que con las justas pudiste escribir.
-        Pepe, ayer vi a Sonia besándose con Carlos. Parece que ya están juntos. ¿No era que te gustaba a ti?

Aquellos que reciben este tipo de comentarios son los sordos mentales, que se niegan a vivir una realidad que no les agrada, y prefieren tamizar el contenido con un fuerte componente de benevolencia e ingenuidad que torna estas duras y demoledoras verdades en comentarios triviales e inofensivos y es aquí donde el refrán de marras mantiene su inmemorial vigencia.

Incluso si les preguntáramos a los aludidos qué opinan, nos contestarían sin duda que son tonterías, exageraciones o mentiras de gente que les tiene inquina o guarda alguna rencilla para con ellos.

Cuando Descartes en su famoso “Discurso del Método” llegó a la brillante y simplísima conclusión que lo único que estaba correctamente repartido en el mundo entero era el sentido común, porque todos estaban contentos con la porción que les había tocado en suerte, dio en el clavo de la naturaleza humana. Todos tenemos nuestros propios filtros, nuestros propios juicios, nuestros propios pensamientos y estamos conformes con estos. Es natural por tanto, asumir que lo que escuchamos de otros no será necesariamente cierto, sin importar el origen. Es así que el comentario de un extraño puede tener más valor de verdad que aquel hecho por un hermano o un íntimo amigo, siempre y cuando los filtros y juicios mentales favorezcan aquello que queremos creer.

Me veo obligado a ubicarme en este inmenso grupo de seres humanos que escuchan lo que les da la gana y no lo que deberían. Tomo conciencia que a pesar de ser un poco diferente a muchos, y no en el buen sentido de la frase sino todo lo contrario, creo que me he ganado a pulso el derecho de pertenecer al grueso del género humano medio, quien sabe un poco fronterizo, pero ahí estamos.

Lo curioso de mi caso es que poco a poco he ido perdiendo la capacidad de oír. Un poco por la edad, un poco por descuido y otro poco por exceso, me empecé a dar cuenta que no oía bien. Quiero recalcar la palabra “oír”, que no es lo mismo que escuchar. Yo oía bastante bien, pero no escuchaba correctamente y creo que la diferencia es obvia y me encontré frente a un problema doble. No era ya un oyente eficiente y nunca fui un escucha atento.

Inicialmente pensé que el problema era que al llevar una vida bilingüe, pues trabajo, leo, hablo y a veces hasta pienso en inglés y español, lo atribuí a mi incapacidad de poder captar algunas sutilezas de los múltiples sonidos de las vocales y consonantes del inglés, así como la pasión por el uso de acrónimos o abreviaciones de las palabras y que aborrezco perversamente.

Además, aquí en Texas tenemos el Tex-Mex, una especie de dialecto espantoso, en el que se dicen aberraciones como “te llamo p’atrás” por “I’ll call you back” o “seguranza” (sí, con zeta) en vez de seguros, amén de “pipa” en vez de “tubería”, “quitear” en vez de “renunciar”, “flipear” en vez de “reconstruir” y mejor no sigo.

Tanto los norteamericanos como los latinos de este gran continente que vivimos en los Estados Unidos, tenemos la tendencia a crear nuestra propias palabras y términos, y me imagino que es propio de cada etnia. No lo sé, pero la diferencia es clara: mientras que los “anglos” (otro término usado para definir a los pobladores de este país que tienen ascendencia europea, fundamentalmente inglesa) suelen ser prácticos y descriptivos en estas artes, creando o cercenando palabras como “rep” para representative o “repo” para reposession por citar un par, nosotros los latinos nos divertimos más y solemos acuñar palabras como “yarda” (yard) para denominar al jardín o “guachimán” (watchman) para un vigilante.

Cuando era niño, en el Perú había un diario llamada “Ultima Hora” que solía usar jerga y argot en sus titulares. Un día, mientras mi abuelo, mi hermano y yo esperábamos a mi padre salir de la oficina, compré el diario, pues el título me llamó la atención: “Choborras del Llauca felices: el agua está contaminada”.

Mi abuelo al ver el titular me arrebató el periódico intrigadísimo y por más que trató de descifrar la frase, no pudo. Para él, español castizo y purista que pensaba que España era la octava maravilla del mundo en orden inverso, era incomprensible que un diario usara jerga en sus titulares. Y sus adorados nietos cruelmente le negaban la posibilidad de iluminarlo con el significado de aquella frase que habían entendido al instante.

-        ¿Pero hijos míos, vosotros no sabéis que quiere decir esto? ¿Es el Llauca un lugar especial? ¿Son los Choborras alguna tribu del Amazonas?
-        No sabemos abuelito. Nunca hemos escuchado de ese lugar ni de esas personas.

El pobre abuelo, obsesivo y vehemente, no podía dejar de pensar en este intrincado titular. No fue sino hasta que llegó mi padre, que entre risas, le explicó que significaba que los borrachos del Callao, puerto de Lima, estaban felices, pues se verían obligados a consumir cerveza y otras bebidas espirituosas, escondiendo su habitual afición tras la contundente verdad del agua contaminada en el puerto.

Retornando al tema central, últimamente el tema de mi sordera se había agudizado. Había perdido, de acuerdo al orejólogo que me tocó en suerte, alrededor del cincuenta por ciento de audición en las frecuencias altas; léase voces de mujer, y además una zona de audición que sobre todo en el inglés, con sus palabras monosilábicas en la que los sonidos empiezan a confundirse peligrosamente, en especial en el teléfono cuando se trabaja; yo paso muy buena parte de mi tiempo en llamadas de todo tipo, en inglés y en español. Los médicos la llaman “salchicha de audición”, pues tiene forma de una salchicha en el grafico que me mostraron. Escuchar “can” por “can’t”, “bed” por “bet” por “get” por “let” no es gracioso, sobre todo si de negocios se trata.

Para aquellos que sufren de miopía, mi sordera era comparable a ver las cosas sin anteojos, es decir uno sabe que están ahí, pero no sabe bien que son. Y me cansé de preguntar: ¿Perdón? ¿Cómo? ¿Qué dijo? ¿Qué? hasta que finalmente admití que no oía como debía y que tenía que hacer algo al respecto.

Para evitar problemas como el que me ocurrió con los ojos, hice doble consulta y ambos médicos estuvieron de acuerdo que tenía que usar unos diminutos aparatitos que se colocan en las orejas. Incluso la medida de audición fue similar. Investigué y me di con la sorpresa que estos audífonos de marras pueden llegar a costar más de ocho mil dólares, de acuerdo a la calidad de los sonidos, supongo. Me probé unos de siete mil dólares y no sentí diferencia alguna con otros que costaban la tercera parte.

Finalmente, después de múltiples pruebas, moldes de mis orejas, gotas y múltiples recomendaciones, llego el día que mis audífonos estuvieron listos, y fui a estrenar mis nuevas orejas postizas. Ya habían hecho algunas pruebas, pero esta vez me dejarían ir con los aditamentos puestos y funcionando.
La especialista que me atendió era una mujer muy eficiente y amable que parecía construida en madera, flaca, alta y tiesa. Juro que por un momento traté de ver la bisagra que parecía mover su mandíbula inferior. La visualizaba en alguna película como Toy Story y concluí que estaba perdiendo dinero con ese trabajo.

Me explicó muy profesionalmente los pasos a seguir mientras yo me preguntaba como haría para seguir todos los consejos, recomendaciones y advertencias que debería seguir y mentalmente estimé que podría cumplir con solo la mitad. Mi mayor temor era olvidarme de quitármelos para ducharme. Tendría que espaciar los aseos diarios con las consiguientes protestas de aquellas que me rodean.

Al ponerme los aparatitos, sentí como que un mundo nuevo se me presentaba. Podía escuchar mi respiración, cientos de sonidos que ignoraba que estuvieran allí, el girar de la silla, el roce de la ropa y cien sonidos más. A mí me gusta todo lo nuevo y novedoso, pero esto era inimaginable y no estaba seguro que esta experiencia seria agradable después de todo. Eso sí, escuchaba con claridad absoluta, incluso conversaciones que no quería escuchar. Pero decidí enfrentar al mundo con esta nueva experiencia de la mejor manera que conozco: asustado y pesimista.

Cuando pusieron la cajita, las baterías, filtros, folletos y demás parafernalia en una bolsa de papel, casi me vuelvo loco. Un papel arrugado sonaba como que se avecinara una tormenta de rayos y truenos. Ya me habían advertido que tomaría unos días acostumbrarme, pero yo ya sabía que no era cierto.

Salí a la calle y mientras me dirigía a mi auto, los sonidos que no reconocía parecían perseguirme con cólera y agresividad. Era impresionante. No podía distinguir que cosas causaban esos sonidos tan variados y abundantes. Clic, tock, bommm, picpicpic, fiufiu, brrrrrr, eeeennnnn, salían de todas partes. Estaba en estado casi catatónico al llegar al auto y cerrar la puerta. Me di cuenta que podía escuchar mi respiración, mi ronquera y mi rechinar de dientes. El auto, por su parte, cargaba su propia batería de sonidos. El asiento, las llaves al chocar contra la consola, los chirridos, las fugas de aire, el aire acondicionado, y muchos más. Me sentí mucho más viejo, manejando un auto más viejo y con más achaques que yo.

El viaje a la oficina fue una jornada memorable, y mi primer día trabajando con mis audífonos, también. Por momentos sentía que era demasiado y que en cualquier instante saldría disparado sin rumbo a perderme en parajes silenciosos, pero me percaté que en aquellos se escucharía ya no el susurro, sino el rugido del viento, los trinos de los pájaros se habrían convertido en acordes terribles y dolorosos. Pensé en que escuchaba tan bien como los perros, que como se sabe, tienen los sentidos del oído y del olfato muy aguzados y me di cuenta que aquel que invento el dicho “Vida de perros” había sido perro o había usado estos aparatitos minúsculos.

Cincuenta veces pensé en quitármelos y darme por vencido, pero soy una curiosa combinación de tozudo con pusilánime con cierto matiz masoquista, así que seguí sufriendo por unas horas, hasta que llegó el momento en que la naturaleza me hizo un llamado para desahogar mis tuberías renales, por lo que me dirigí al baño con un ligero sentido de urgencia, porque a estas alturas de la vida, la próstata se ha convertido en un órgano de poca confianza.

Después de ubicarme convenientemente y ya con algunas gotas a punto de salir me relajé y empecé a orinar con el placer que a estas alturas representa. Un amigo me decía que con la frecuencia de estas visitas al baño y la escasez de orgasmos, había perdido la diferencia entre ambos. No llego a tanto, pero algo de razón tiene mi querido y coetáneo amigo. Desde luego, su próstata debe pesar por lo menos un par de kilos.

Sumido en esos pensamientos, de súbito escuché el sonido de un furioso chorro de agua saliendo a borbotones. Pensé que alguien había abierto un caño al máximo de su potencia, pero pronto me percaté que venía de mi propio y débil chorrito. ¡Dios mío, este soy yo! ¿Es que vuelvo a tener quince años cuando podía dirigir el chorro a discreción y mansalva a distancias prodigiosas, lleno de furor adolescente? ¡Oh milagro de la Naturaleza!

Desde que uso mis audífonos he dejado de tomar antidepresivos. Solo me aseguro de llevar una abundante cantidad de botellas de agua a donde vaya. ¡Qué bien me siento!

Sin duda, la tecnología hace maravillas…