Autors i Autores

Robert Saladrigas

2. Anglès [Imaginary letters]


In a particularly difficult period of loneliness, he recalled the story he'd once read in a novel about a university lecturer who, after his wife had left him and depressed by personal conflicts and the situation of the world that he deemed chaotic, wrote long recriminatory letters to the political leaders of the great powers.

Letters that, once written and in their envelopes, he never sent.

At this time he was receiving no correspondence other than junk mail, administrative notifications, invitations to events that he had no wish to attend, and the usual bills.

Almost all this mass of paper went straight into the rubbish bin.

He couldn't think of anyone to whom he might write personal letters.

He'd have given months of his life to exchange love letters with a young girl who'd rejuvenate him.

Needless to say, this aspiration was a non-starter now.

He'd said goodbye to the good times.

One sleepless night, when he'd poured himself a second glass of wine and was smoking a cigarette in front of the television with the sound turned off, he concocted his first letter to no one.

He wrote it without need of paper, ballpoint pen, fountain pen, computer or typewriter.

His imagination ran free, not imposing any kind of impediment dictated by prudence or the rules of courtesy.

This let him unburden himself, expressing whatever came into his head.

The night flew and left him feeling fairly satisfied after having dared to produce a full-blooded declaration of love to an extraordinarily beautiful model who’d been a star of the catwalks twenty years earlier.

Then he closed his eyes, as relaxed as if he'd been holding the sculptural body in his arms for some time.

And sleep came.

It thus became a habit.

He didn't go to sleep until he'd written the imaginary letter, the nature and intensity of which varied according to his state of mind.

He wrote scandalously romantic letters that verged on schmaltz.

Others came out full of fire because they channelled the candescence of genitals tormented by long abstinence.

Sometimes they were hurt letters or, rather, steeped in melancholy, when he decided to flay himself with the idea of being the lover who gave a lot without receiving what he rightly deserved in return.

On restless nights like these he needed to go out on to the terrace.

The cold air fell on him.

He didn't go back inside until, between fits of shivering, he stopped feeling jealous.

With practice he was mastering the secrets of epistolary technique.

Then, almost involuntarily, he started to be more specific with his amorous messages.

To put it plainly, he addressed them to particular women whom he chose at random.

For example, there were film stars, television presenters or regulars in the gossip columns who generally appeared on magazine covers or in nude photos inside. Then again, there were certain women who caught his eye on the street because they were attractive, gave out an erotic aura or simply because their breasts were round, their legs long, ankles slim and they walked transmitting a rhythm to their rumps that had him turning his head as a lecherous fug overwhelmed him.

He made of his mind a copious file of female images.

Thanks to these, he managed to become a master of amatory literature, which frequently, when he let himself get carried away by instinct, turned pornographic.

He had no qualms about it at all.

On the contrary, the whole thing gave him a new lease on life.

He was experiencing at least a vicarious form of happiness.

The unexpected culmination came in the form of the lone letter that was waiting for him in his letter box one day.

At first sight, the writing on the envelope looked like a woman's.

On opening it, with raggedly beating pulse, he found that his guess was right.

An anonymous woman informed him that she loved him too.

(From the Biografia [Biography], 2005)

Translated from the Catalan by Julie Wark ©

Amb el suport de:

Institució de les Lletres Catalanes