Migueliño’s Father

by Alfonso D. Rodríguez Castelao (1886-1950). From Things.
Translated by David Clark.

Migueliño’s father was coming back over from the Americas, and the young lad was as pleased as punch dressed up in his best clothes. Migueliño could picture his father with his eyes closed, but just to make sure he took another quick look at the picture before leaving the house.

The Americans were disembarking. Migueliño and his mother waited on the quay in the harbor. The young lad’s heart was beating like a drum and his eyes scanned the crowds looking for the father he had so often dreamed about.

All of a sudden he could see him in the distance. He was just the same as in the picture, or even better, and the nearer the American got to him the more the lad wanted to cover him in kisses. But the American just walked straight past without looking at anyone, and Migueliño stopped loving him.

Here he is, here he is now! Migueliño saw another man, well-dressed, and his heart told him that this was his father. He was dying to kiss him. He looked so noble! But no, the American passed by without even noticing the anguish in the boy’s eyes following his steps.

Migueliño chose a lot of fathers that way, none of whom were his, but all of them he loved madly.

And when his suffering was at its greatest he realized that a man was hugging his mother. This man looked nothing like the picture: a skinny man dressed in a loose-fitting suit; a man made of wax with sticking-out ears, hooded eyes, coughing away. Yes, that was Migueliño’s father.

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