Alejandro is reading

His voice was load and clear and his back straight. The other viejos were busy rummaging through the pile of second-hand clothes on top of the big table in the corner. By no means a quiet activity. Competition was fierze, especially the ladies were keen to get hold of one of the few colourful items in the pile. These European women, do they only wear black and grey? Milagros wanted to know. Now they were finally quieting down. Turning around. Paying attention. They all wanted to give Alejandro his moment of glory.

The reading glasses were perched high on his nose and the Granma newpaper – the only reading material that happened to be – was gripped firmly. And on he went reading. For the first time in 4 years. His smile big enough to light up the whole table of grey and black clothes. It had started about 8 years ago when he was still working as a teacher. By the time his pension came it was notable. It was increasingly difficult to read and 4 years ago he gave up completely. The 27 books that he had painstakingly collected over the years was his pride. Always displayed in his modest living room. But after a while he good not longer bear to look at them . So he tidied them away.

Today was the first time he came to the Church. He was not one for the church really, he had his own spiritualty. But they have told him that you could get a meal. A good meal. La Noruega, was organising it. He had heard about her. When he came he saw her straight away. Blond, skinny little thing. She looked like she could use a meal herself he thought. She was standing there with Aymara, reading glasses dangling from here hand, helping Aymara finding a pair that would fit. Pedro was beckoning to him, vien Alejandro, maybe something for you! You always used to read. No rum, no domino, no women. Just books, you loco!

He had refused even to consider putting on the first rose coloured pair that was handed to him. A man has to maintain a certain level of dignity, he muttered to himself, shooting dirty looks all around, daring anybody to laugh. Then, the second pair. And he went quiet. Looked down at the pattern on the table cloth. Grabbed the fabric of his shirt sleave an studied it intensly. Turned around a cup and read the small letters underneath. Pedro came quickly carrying the skimpy rag of a newspaper and shoved it into his hands. And now Alejandro was reading!