Saturday, March 11, 2006
Another March 11. Like last year, I spent this one with a television crew, with all the stress and frenzy television crews seem to generate. But Madrid itself is calmer than a year ago, the media less rapacious, the commemorations smaller. Memory fades.
My Madrid has changed, though, perhaps permanently. Calle Genova, which used to mean the Turner English Language Bookstore to me, is now the place where that dramatic nighttime protest took place outside PP headquarters, thousands calling for Aznar to take responsibility. Cibeles, which was once where I went to pick up mail sent "General Delivery" to the central Post Office, is another demonstration, this one filled with millions of people streaming through the pouring rain on March 12th. And Atocha, of course, is something else altogether. Two years ago and one: the candles and flowers and handwritten notes stacked one on top of each other, lining the vestibule and circling the entire exterior.
On Thursday we did an interview at the video monument set up at Atocha when they finally took away the candles and flowers. Gonzalo was a captain in the army, 46 years old, when the bomb went off in the car. He lost most of his hearing, had a lung collapse, suffered burns over half his body. A year later he ran 10 kilometers in a race. But he hadn’t yet been able to make himself view the monument.
He agreed to do it for the interview, saying that he “had to confront” the monument. He walked up to it, his lifelong military training evident in his rigid posture and jutting jaw. He looked at the screens for about two minutes, and broke into tears. It broke my heart.