A lot has been happening in Honduras in the last few weeks. Especially politically. I haven’t reported on it because I have been busy and lazy. I am very aware that this is a contradiction, but it’s true. Searching for apartaments (and we’ve seen some right hovels, I can tell you, from places that look like murder scenes to crack dens to a place with a wall full of mold to overpriced box-sized rooms. I’m sure all house hunters have been through this in all corners of the globe. It’s not just a Tegucigalpan thing), wedding planning and work. I use these as excuses not to write and it frustrates me because a writer should always find excuses to write. It’s laziness and being tired.
Today though, I feel inspired. Unfortunately, the inspiration is the passing of a colleague, Julio Cesar Anariba. Mr. Anariba was the Head of Spanish at Dowal School. He was a quite man, but well-respected by staff and students, for his calm manner of teaching, his writing, his humbleness and his quirky sense of humour. He was born and brought up in a small town in the northern areas of the Comayagua province. He took a great interest that Pamela’s family is from the town of Minas de Oro, not too far away from his own. He also took an interest in what I was reading and writing, as we held a similar passion for both. He also laughed that at the fact that I was born and bred in Tolkein land, and that his cryptic and cheery persona, mixed with his smart yet slightly bohemian attire, reminded me of a Hobbit (I mean that in the best way possible).
He was a published author, but I regret to say that I never read any of his work. He inspired many children to write, and I got to see some great feats, some of which I have included in the school newspaper. He also advised me on great Latin American writers for me to read, such as Llosa, Burgos and Bolaño.
In the past year he lost his dad which hit him profoundly and I saw less of a spring in his step, and in general, I didn’t see him as much, which frustrated me and I regret a bit.
He was one of my interviewers for the job, testing me on my knowledge of Spanish literature and the language. I got to know him for his sense of humour when I cashed my first cheque from the job. I was in the BAC bank in Plaza Miraflores and he just happened to be behind me in the queue. We chatted a few minutes about nothing in particular. I felt a bit silly because as I got to the cashier, I realised that I had forgotten my ID. Some of the girls who work there are sweet and sometimes overlook these things at their fancy. Unfortunately I had a no nonsense fat man before me who couldn’t be charmed by a flirtuous smile by a blundering Englishman. Mr. Anariba witnessed it all, giggling to himself might I add, but he approached and offered himself as a character witness and got the money cashed for me. He then giggled and said, “Espero por lo menos una mitad de tu sueldo” (I expect at least a half of your wage).
He died from a heart attack in the wee hours of Monday morning. He’d already had two attacks, one just a month before. He was 51 or 52 and left behind two children, a daughter of 20 years of age and a son of 14 or 15. Obviously the school community is concerned for them. I got to say my last goodbyes at the funeral parlor before work this morning. I didn’t know him as well as colleagues, so my couldn’t quite grieve in tears. It’s just not me. It’s also the way I was brought up, to celebrate someone’s life. It’s a healthy, happier way to grieve. I prefer a silent prayer and wish him well in heaven, and to think of the funny chats I had with him. I shared a few with colleagues throughout the day, such as the way he had his eye on my red and black bag and he would keep asking if I’d finished with it. For days on end!
I will finish by sharing the conversation I had with him in August 2014.
Mr. Anariba: I hear you’re getting married.
Mr. Anariba: Congratulations, amigo! [We hug]. When will it be?
Me: Thank you. July next year.
Mr. Anariba: I’m sure she’s very beautiful.
Me: Of course.
Mr. Anariba: Hondureñas are strong women.
Me: Hahaha. I know.
Mr. Anariba: It’s like prison if you upset them.
Me: I know. Worse I think.
Mr. Anariba: Hahaha. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?
Mr. Anariba: I’m sure, too.
And that’s pure Mr. Anariba. Que decanses en paz, amigo!