When silence ends

It’s drizzling outside. The lights seem melt into the street while I look out of the tram window. After a dinner with friends, where I suddenly lit up when reminiscing of my year across the ocean in central America, I feel all this memories coming back up. I send him a message and ask if he remembers my last day when the girls of the house I had lived in for almost a year, all stood at the doors threshold to say goodbye to me. That’s when it happened: this moment that felt as a scene right out of a movie. I had just lifted with the help of the driver my suitcase in the back of the car. The guy I had fall in love with taking a seat in the back and me in the front. The windows were down and a light breeze mixed with warm sunshine was coming through. The city of the eternal springtime never disappoints when it comes to its gentle warming sun. Despite of all the hardness and sufferance of this country the sun bring solace every single time. And there we went while some of the girls started to run alongside the car waving at me. My eyes tear up like the streets in this rainy Brussels.

The first weeks of me being back people kept asking ‘How was it?’ Almost like expecting a one syllabi reply, preferably in the lines of ‘great’. But how can I possibly resume a year that felt like ten years in one miserable word. And how can it possibly all be great? I find myself in this tram thinking of the little details living in the land of volcanos so different from the silent winter that is Northern Europe. Like the sounds. Silence is a luxury that does not seem to exist in most of the cities in latin America where I have been in. There was the low flying plane stopping conversions during the lunch break in the patio. There were the speakers of the trucks collecting the old appliances and iron left overs households want to get rid of. Then the people selling fruits from door to door. And then, once going out to get the groceries, a mired of music would meet your ears, all danceable beats from reaggeton to cumbia or Mexican banda. Finally, you’d cross the street: cars upon cars, huge busses and trucks that not only discharge this black dense smog, the sounds of their engines fill the space. If you are lucky you might cross the mightiest of them all: ‘la camioneta’ or chicken bus. On top of their boisterous engine they play the greatest latin hits as if it were a mobile disco while racing to its destination.

The voice recording in the tram brings me back to a dark February night in Brussels. It announced my stop. The memory of noises of Guatemala brought a tear to my eye. The street lights hit my face and I remember the colours that accompanied all those noises. From the savoury fruits brightest yellow, pink and red shades, to the colourful paintings of the chicken bus. And I think back to that afternoon when I left that house. Despite all the discussions, work, the house, the harsh context we were moving in, I look back with nostalgia, the bond that we forged over the months feels strong. No one else knows how it was for us. Some might have an idea, the ones who came before us, the ones that will come way after we all will be gone for long. We all sometimes clashed as a cacophony of different colours and noises but sometimes we did melt in a symphony of worldly sounds, mixed in a waiting of joyful colours having the experience of a lifetime. I will remember one face contoured by black curly hair and a unique smile that could make you laugh in the moments you least wanted to face anyone. There she was, running like crazy, trying to hold on to the symphony even if only for one more second.


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