Avena sobre Kafka / Lena Yau

Oatmeal On Kafka

To all the students.
To Bassil and Robert who will always remain.

The whole wide world lives beside the handkerchief world. Two phrases chasing each other. They leap on each other’s back to disprove themselves, which at the same time, is a way of confirming themselves. A type of linguistic ball game: trap me so you won’t trap me.
These days the countries of the globe start to paint themselves in tricolor with stars. The maps light up with little yellowbluered points that say: a Venezuelan lives here, you’re important to this Venezuelan, we are your voice.

I write this from 6,000 kilometers that aren’t a distance. It’s enough to turn on the computer to make it my balcony to the country. I open the curtain and see María Eugenia, Carlos, Gabriela, Pepe, Johnny, Gladys, Venancio, Lucía, Felipe, Coromoto, Joao, Jessica, Franklin, Pili, Gorka, Fátima, Paolo. When they sing you can see their white teeth, some of them have nose piercings, on their tongues, their lips. They’ve been on the pavement for days but they seem fresh. I click on the button, they run and hide from the tear gas. I think: yesterday they were children playing hide and go seek. I click on a link and they wrap their t-shirt over their nose fighting against the gas. I think: they should be in class avoiding paper airplanes.

I start my day with them early on and I finish it with them too. They’re all in my house. I want to march with them. I do it typing.

Like now. Each key pressed is a step accompanying them. It’s time for school. I come back to my here. I leave my march of letters and rush Adrian along:

“Hurry up and eat, the bus is gonna leave, you have tests today, eat well.”

His milk mustache inquires about the kids “over there.”
“They’re around,” I tell him. “They’re still going.”

I leave him at the bus and come back to continue my march facing the plasma. I look at my desk. On top of a book by Kafka sits my breakfast: a bowl of oatmeal.

Oatmeal on Kafka

It’s a good title for so many things: for a short story, for a paradox, for a love letter. For a uchronia: What does student Kafka think about everything that’s happening in Venezuela. Or for one more anxiety: Have these kids been eating breakfast? Today my typed steps keep talking poetry and food, words and groceries. The students nourish us with a literature they write on the street.

We Venezuelans who live outside those nearly one million square kilometers vibrate alongside them. We applaud them, we embrace the air to make them ours. We admire their gracefulness, we bow to the example, we learn as we watch them. To feel them is to recover a hope for rebuilding Venezuela. Our gratitude covers all the colored forms of the mapamundi. All the skies. All the water. There are no kilometers separating us from them.

{ Lena Yau, El Nacional, 18 February 2014 }

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