A conversation with Gabo (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

“Truth when written becomes fiction”

-the ugly, little, five-year-old boy

I remember I was five years old then; I was walking on my way to school and the most unexpected thing happened. I met Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

He was holding a dictionary and told me that he reads several pages of the book every day of his life. It was my first time to see a dictionary, and for a five-year old the word dictionary was not yet a part of my vocabulary then.

“Here you can see fancy words, mostly,” he said, and added “only two hundred or so are useful.”

“The two hundred or so are enough to tell human history.”

“Why read them then?” I asked for my logic that time was already rather developed although I was not sure if I’d be able to comprehend the answer of Gabo (he insisted that I call him Gabo because according to him space and time are not absolute and that they merge to create meanings to the seemingly strange world so our age difference is not anymore material, or was it Einstein who said that (I’m not sure anymore)).

“Because,” he looked at a beautiful woman who walked in front of us wearing a space suit, “in case man is not satisfied, as he always is, he can use the remaining fancy words,” he said while coughing slightly to catch the attention of the astronaut. The woman went on, not noticing Gabo.

“I don’t know my parents aren’t satisfied,” I said looking at his unbuttoned shirt and dirty collar, “they seem to be very happy all the time.” (By the way, the word satisified, according to him was also unnecessary.)

“Because they are lost in their own world that revolves around a five-year-old ugly boy,” he said.

He never gave me an opportunity to retort his statement, and before I could say anything he looked at my faux army bag my mother bought from the community market for less than 50 pesosm and then to me “And eventually they will use fancier words to describe what they would feel if that ugly little boy leaves them someday for faraway lands.”

“What a pitiable couple,” he said and looked at me blankly then attempted to go back to the book he was reading, paused for a while, then looked back at me, “Do you have anything to say boy?”

“I am flabbergasted with what you just said Gabo!” I said.

“You have all the right to be little boy.” He said yawning. “You see, what’s your name again?”

“John.” I said with anger in my voice.

“You see little John, poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable,” he said while scratching his greying moustache.

He stood up, and turned his back on me. “I must go, that woman is irresistable.”

“I do not understand you at all.” I shouted

So he went after that astronaut and together they flew to space and I never saw him again after that. For the past seventeen years after meeting Gabo, I’ve been looking forward to meeting him again and challenge him to write the entire of mankind’s history using 200 words.

6 thoughts on “A conversation with Gabo (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)”

  1. There are a couple of non precise details on the book “Live to tell a Tale”. My father, Gabo’s school mate in Zipaquira can give reasons as he was actually in one event told in the book.

    1. It’s probably because it was meant to be a fiction, so we cannot really expect the writer to be faithful to what actually occurred that time. But i will try to find a copy of that book, and i shall guess which of the characters described is your father.

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