Rosina, my darling,
I'm not going to beat about the bush: I've left you. I’ve written this letter in my head so many times, thought so much about how I'm going to tell you (I'll try to make her understand, try not to hurt her, be both firm and delicate, etc., etc.) that I've finally decided just to go ahead and write it. So now you know: I've left you. I'm leaving everything: the house, my job and you. To be even clearer, I've left you for another woman. Yes, yes, it's exactly what you're thinking: like a bastard, like a rotten son-of-a-bitch, like the pig you had the bad luck to marry thirteen years ago. I'm all that and much more: irresponsible, immature, a lunatic who should be locked up in a madhouse. Or a prison. Your call, honey.
On the shoulders where you'll be shedding your abandoned-wife tears you'll find all the understanding in the world. What they won't forgive me for – and, incidentally, they won't forgive you either – is that I'm leaving my job. They'll be totally gobsmacked by that, the friends you've got left, and they’'l console you by saying that these things happen every day, but the fact that I'm leaving architecture with all the prestige, all the loot rolling in, and the res-pon-si-bi-li-ty (prepare yourself because from now on you're going to have to put up with hearing this word over and over again and, believe me, I'm sorry), is not right, it's not logical and they'll look at you sideways in case it's catching. Vaginally transmitted, I mean.
I decline from the outset to try to make you understand why. You've got about the same chance of understanding an offside in football, mathematical derivatives or Bertolucci's films, three favourite examples you trot out, darling, when you want to make a show of being quite-simple-really.
It's only so you'll see that the whole thing isn’t just an impulse – and you'd better not have any illusions about it, because I'm not talking about a sudden fancy, and this I can swear to – that I've decided not to leave in a more spectacular fashion, which is what I would really have liked. It makes me drool just to think of that well-slammed door but, never mind: I've renounced all that. And I've renounced the whole show to resist that impulse of giving the door a good hard slam. It was too theatrical and would have had a false note that would have given you illusions about me recovering my wits. For example, I wanted to burn books, I mean the whole library, in the bath. The ceiling and walls would have looked absolutely gorgeous. Then I wanted to smash all the records and to put all the CDs in the toaster and then, with the big scissors, to cut all my clothes to ribbons and leave them for you in the middle of the living room. The final touch was to shit in the fireplace (I didn't have the gall to do something like that on the new bedspread you so carefully chose, sweetheart).
So I decided not to, but still wish I could. Don't you agree that it would have been a much more hygienic, convincing and purifying way of leaving? But … Your reaction would have been exactly this: first rabid indignation, phoning all your nearest and dearest to tell them about the horrible things I'd done to you, tears running down burning cheeks. Then you would have left everything the way it was, just to prove it was true. I can see you perfectly, showing them my leavings – spiritual and scatological – and enjoying the whole show. Then comes the tender phase: the poor thing's gone astray, he needs me and he needs that shrink they say is so good. You'd clean up all the mess and, in no time at all, you'd be off to the bookshop, the music shop to fill up the dreadful holes my thoughtlessness had left in your careful home decoration. Finally, the implacable search, with private detectives and all the works.
No, honey, no. I prefer to renounce my little show, to spoil things for you. And, I swear to this, to save you from any false hopes. There's no sense in making you suffer. At least no more than necessary. I'm not angry with you, I haven't got it in for you and I don't hate you. I'm off, that's all.
And don't go thinking that the cause is Paquita – Paquita is her name and I'll give you a bit of an idea of her in a minute because I understand that curiosity is stronger than pride – though she's been the catalyst if you want. The restlessness was already in me and no doubt it was incubating away since my earliest childhood. So now you can go round saying things like, "neurotic immaturity with paranoid attacks that are almost certainly congenital", or whatever other twaddle enters your head (a delightful little head and I don’t mind saying so).
Since, as I've told you, I decided from the start not to try to make you understand the reasons behind my slam of the door – which has been enigmatically muffled by the good manners in which you must recognise my soul is steeped – I'll only tell you about the effects.
I've left the office but with everything in order and a new chief architect previously – and meticulously – chosen. Now I'm working as a concierge-cum-doorman in a factory and I'm not going to give you any clues by telling you what it manufactures. I like this job a lot. Whatever pleasure you might be able imagine, it is not comparable with the pleasure I have every morning when I clock in, turn on the lights, connect the machines and sit at my little table by the door with a toothpick in my mouth. When the workers come in and say, "Hey, Emili", or "You blow the whistle earlier every day, Emili, you bastard", and things like that, I secrete a beatific happiness so tangible, so deep, so visible that I have to watch that I don't start slobbering.
Paquita used to be the cleaning lady in my office. I met her six months ago, one day – you might remember – when I had to stay there all night with those plans I had to rework from top to bottom because of a sudden change in specification from the Council. She's twenty-eight and she's from Andalusia. She's the most marvellous woman in the world. She knows how to cook the most tastily simple dishes that you’ll never even have heard of – she makes a thick, strong, spicy stew that is a masterpiece – and she sings when she's ironing, especially boleros. When she comes to "… we are two drops of crying // together in one song", it literally brings tears to my eyes. She wants kids, a lot of kids. She can't read or write. In bed she’s demure and she'd never, ever let herself be seen pissing in the toilet or washing herself at the bidet. She uses euphemisms to talk about her period and will even blush. She caresses my back with the flat of her hand, and moist-eyed – such a profound look of femininity that I think that all of you liberated women are the losers forever – with a tenderness I never dreamed existed. She loves sewing and she's very, very good at it. She puts her feet on the bar of the chair so her knees make a little hump and there, with her knees together, she bends over to peer at her seam. The roundness of her knees while she’s concentrating on her needle is a spectacle of the purest and most refined eroticism. And it's totally uncontrived. Every morning she gives me my lunchbox and a thermos of milk coffee. Opening the lunchbox at midday is one of the richest, most beautiful and intense experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of having. And that’s every day!
Before setting out on the false trip you've thought I've been doing for the last month, I put my affairs in order, as any decent man would. You're perfectly well provided for as far as money is concerned because I haven't taken a single cent. You've got enough to live very well and, since you're extremely smart, you’ll know all too well how to invest it and get your act together. You'll never see me again. Make the most of it. If you want to divorce me some day, talk to Castany. He's a good lawyer and he’ll sort it all out for you. I've left a heap of signed blank sheets of paper with him. Because that life, your life, is over for me: I'm dead, honey.
PS: Paquita's got silky thighs and her breasts are warm amber. Next to her, you're not worth shit, my darling.
Translated from the Catalan by Julie Wark for AELC ©