Beyond the afterlife, in that place where no one knows if the dead eat tacha pumpkin, or if the bones of their skeletons are made of granulated sugar, all those who have left rest. It does not matter if they were holy or insane, infamous or famous or if they lived the joyous life or crying it out every day. There they are. And it is in the days to come, the end of October and the beginning of November, when they wait. A party, at least. A memory, the memory. Because you never know when the time will come and we will have to go and keep them company.
There is not a single person who does not think of her. In avoiding or delaying death. Religions and spells, tonics and drinks, medicines and prayers to deal with her. A thousand studies and theories. Festivities and sacrifices because of him and in his honor, a lot of time won and lost in guessing it.
Sometimes, history tells, it appears as an admonition and other times as cruel revenge. There are plenty of examples: it is said that Julius Caesar, lord of Rome and of all the roads that reached it, used to wonder what its end would be like and looked for the answer in the flight of birds, the omens of the winds, the entrails of the animals and the predictions of any oracle. However, it was an ordinary soothsayer, with the appearance of a beggar, who one day stood between Caesar and his blindness only to warn him: – Oh great Julio! Beware of the ides of March!
It was not until he received the fifth stab, that Caesar understood everything: the twisted of the secrets of destiny and that the date of his last day had arrived and was just that.
Aeschylus, a Greek playwright, according to rumors spread by Hermippus of Smyrna, was struck by a tortoise that fell off the claws of an eagle that happened to fly over him. And paradoxically his death became a comedy only worthy of his pen. Allan Pinkerton, founder of the first modern detective agency, died of gangrene after biting his tongue in a stumble and Philip II had to pay for his forays into the sea and the cruel might of his crown, swelling like a dead fish in his bed. . (The gossips said that he could only breathe once when he burst from dropsy and that the worms were already waiting for him when the earth hugged him).
Death equals everything. The same thing happened here and there and neither Venustiano Carranza inside his train, Emiliano Zapata cruelly ambushed, Francisco Villa murdered in his latest model car, Obregón asking for his third plate of kid or Francisco I. Madero, against the wall, asked to guess that the Death had come.
Philosophers and artists thinkers tried to understand it and wrote about it. Gandhi said that death is just a change of mission, while Robespierre claimed that it is the beginning of immortality and Napoleon described it as a dreamless dream. Others, instead of defining, advised: Antonio Machado that death should not be feared because, while we are, death is not and when death is, we are no longer. Jorge Luis Borges said that death is a life lived and life is a death that comes, and ancient and modern sages proposed that you have to sleep with the thought of death and get up with the thought that life is short.
But we are not like that. To each dead an altar and to each grief, a joy. That is why we plan and prepare in advance to celebrate the Day of the Dead, perhaps the time is today, dear reader. Hopefully without changing the skull for the huge orange mazacote that is painted (or scratched) a toothless and terrifying smile. (Since when or why do we think that ghosts are like a sheet? And that the spirits that swarm through Mexican streets are more like Freddy Krueger than La Llorona?)
Better not answer. Nothing else to avoid falling into the classic – and absolutely legitimate – fury for the gringo invasion of our thoughts. (Of course, everyone is free to do what they prefer, respond to their North European past and change October 31, the eve of All Saints’ Day, to celebrate all hallow’s eve – origin of the name of Halloween for the Celts and the English-speaking- and dress up to spend the night asking for candy. You will say, you will know …).
We are terrified of passing from this world to another, those who have left hurt us a lot, we would be very fascinated to understand, not suffer, talk with her. But listening to death is impossible and ignoring its designs, dangerous.
To death neither harass or catch. It is not going to be that it kills us in the attempt.