Joan Mari Torrealdai
I received news I didn’t want to hear, Joan Mari. What we want to ignore, however, does not disappear by simply ignoring it. You taught me that lesson a long time ago.
We were sharing a round table at the Zentsura At! Censorship Festival in 2010. We were talking about the political, social, and personal damage caused by censorship, and the Sami journalist and friend of mine Stein Torger, who came from Norway, told me he wanted to interview you. I asked you and you said yes, but you said you struggled with English and asked me to interpret. Of course.
He asked you at great length about the forced closure of Egunkaria in 2003, and about the treatment that the police gave you. The journalist mentioned Martxelo Otamendi’s and Iñaki Uria’s testimonies. And you began to describe, calmly and gently, that you had been tortured as well. I hadn’t heard what you told that journalist before, what they did to you and how you felt. As I translated this new testimony into English, your words and the look of your eyes got tangled in my throat. So brittle, so defenseless, I found you so frail at that moment. I cannot forget it. When the interview was over we stood face to face, quietly. What to say. There are no words. And you, with a sad smile, told me you felt liberated. That you needed time to tell yourself the evil truth, for the evil to be true.
Five years later you confessed to me, to us, that that hidden torment had caused you a vivid, cruel pain. A vivid pain that had gotten to your bones.
We love you, Joan Mari. Admiration, respect, complicity, intellectual feedback. I won’t forget how you came to Txagorritxu in 1987, when I had spent a month in the hospital after an urgent surgery. You wanted to convince me to take part in the monographic “Woman and Literature”. How could I say no? After critizicing the omnipresent masculinity and mysoginistic traces at Jakin for years, I couldn’t have done otherwise. When you presented the takeover in 2014, though, you told me, See? A woman is director of Jakin. And what a woman, I said, Lorea Agirre, “turboflower”, we gave her the nickname almost as a teenager. Can’t accuse us of mysoginy now, uh, Laura? You told me smiling, mockingly.
That happy and mischievous smile is what I will always keep in mind.
2020, 31st July