In mid-2007, Julito assured me that before August pork would be sold at ten pesos a pound, the daily salary of the average worker. Not seeing his prediction come true, he was shouting last January about the exact date of the meat discount. With his permanent smile, he assured me that we could acquire the precious meat—at a fairer price—by the summer months. Then came the hurricanes and my neighbor’s prediction turned into a bitter prophecy or, even worse, a harmful naiveté. I didn’t run into him for several weeks and couldn’t throw back in his face his excessive triumphalism.
Yesterday, Julito came up to my floor to talk about another topic. His youngest daughter has just taken the path already charted by the previous one, after deserting in the midst of an artistic trip abroad. The two have been reunited in one of the large U.S. cities and her father is not so much sad about the separation as happy about the future of his daughters. Sitting in my living room he declared that he and his wife plan to reunite with the exiled part of the family. “There we will be more useful,” he tells me in the tone of someone who’s already made a decision.
I had the urge to ask him if he wouldn’t wait for the meat discount, and afterwards fly to the family reunion. But I know that as parents we don’t usually care for jokes about our children, so I preferred to ignore his past optimism. I forgave him the fatigue his prediction caused me and even the appraisal of “pessimist” with which he’d greeted my suspicion. Julito is one of those who even on the gangway of the airplane will continue to swallow his criticisms. Later, in Boston, maybe he’ll read this blog and he’ll probably send me an email to confess that he never believed in anything, that he was just as skeptical as I am.