Last conversation with Joan

1 min
Joan Margarit at his home, in Sant Just Desvern, last December

I liked to write to him so as not to bother him on the phone when I knew his strength was failing and that rotund voice was cracking. He preferred to call me, on Saturday or Sunday, so as not to bother me at work: "You're still living in the middle of it all and I'm an old man," he would say with the coquetry of someone who has corrected galley proofs to the last breath of what he defined as "the best of my books," written during lockdown.

He was not "a young imbecile" and he had vowed to die with the same dignity with which he had tried to live: "You know, old age has to catch you well read, otherwise you might be an old idiot! You have to prepare yourself."

I liked to make him laugh. Him, who was quite a character. And in the last disorderly conversation on a Saturday, talking about the aspidistras in the courtyard, he said flatly: "The older I get the greater the contempt I feel for my species", contempt for "human intelligence, which has to go hand in hand with self-destruction". He said it without bitterness, with that stark lucidity that was so much his own. Then he spoke of literature: "The Iliad? The Iliad is the Spanish Civil War!" And of our politicians: "What do they think of us? How stupid do they think we are?"

The cancer was progressing, but my friend told me he needed a year. He had delivered the last book, but he wanted to direct some building work to make his wife's life easier. Until the last moment: poetry and construction. You leave us very alone, Joan Margarit