Dawn. City of Mexico. Durito wanders through the adjoining streets to the Zocalo. Sporting a small trench coat and a hat angled like Humphrey Bogart in CASABLANCA, Durito pretends to pass unnoticed. His outfit and slow crawl are unnecessary as he sticks to the shadows which escape the bright display windows. Shadow of the shadow, silent walk, inclined hat, dragging trench coat, Durito walks through the dawn of Mexico City. No one notices him. They do not see him, not because he is well- disguised or because of that tiny, quixotic detective outfit from the 50's, or because he is barely distinguishable from the mounds of garbage. Durito walks near the papers being dragged by whomever or by some whisk of unpredictable winds which populate the dawns of the Federal District. No one sees Durito for the simple reason, that in this city, no one sees no one.
"This city is sick" Durito writes to me "it is sick of loneliness and fear. It is a great collective of solitudes. It is many cities, one for each resident. It's not about a sum of anguish (do you know of loneliness which is not anguish?), but about a potency; each loneliness is multiplied by the number of lonely people which surround it. It is as though each solitude was a mirror which reflects the others, and bounces off more solitudes."
Durito has begun to discover that he is in foreign territory, that the city is not his place. In his heart and in this dawn, Durito packs his bag. He walks this road as though it were an inventory, a last caress, as though he were leaving a lover who knows this is good-bye. At certain moments, the sound of footsteps diminishes and the cry of the sirens which frighten outsiders increase. And Durito is one of those outsiders, so he stops on the corner each time the red and blue blinkers cross the street. Durito takes advantage of the complicity of a doorway in order to light a pipe with guerrilla technique: a tiny spark, a deep breath, and the smoke engulfing his gaze and face. Durito stops. He looks and gazes. In front of him, a display window preserves his image. Durito comes near and looks at the great crystal and what exists behind it. Mirrors of all forms and all sizes, porcelain and glass figures, cut crystal, tiny music boxes. "There are no talking boxes" Durito says to himself without forgetting the long years spent in the jungle of the Mexican southeast.
Durito has come to say goodbye to Mexico City and he has decided to give a gift to this city about which everyone complains and no one abandons. A gift. This is Durito, a beetle of the Lacandon Jungle in the center of Mexico City.
Durito says goodbye with a gift.
He makes an elegant magician's gesture. Everything stops, the lights go out like a candle does when a gentle wind licks its face. Another gesture and a light, like from a reflector, illuminates a music box in the display window. A ballet dancer with a fine lilac costume, keeps a perpetual position with its hands held high, its legs together as it balances on tip-toes. Durito tries to imitate the position, but promptly gets his many arms entangled. Another magical gesture and a piano the size of a cigarette box appears. Durito sits in front of the piano and and puts a jug of beer on its cover, and who knows where he got it from, but it's already half-empty. Durito cracks and flexes his fingers like those digital gymnastics done by pianists in the movies. Durito turns toward the ballerina and moves his head. The ballerina begins to move and makes a bow. Durito hums an unknown tune, beats a rhythm with his little legs, closes his eyes and composes himself.
The first notes begin. Durito plays the piano with four hands. From the other side of the crystal, the ballerina begins a turn and slowly raises her right leg. Durito leans on the keyboard and plays furiously. The ballerina performs her best steps as allowed by the prison of the little music box. The city is erased. There is nothing but Durito on his piano and the ballerina in her music box. Durito plays and the ballerina dances. The city is surprised, its cheeks redden in the manner in which this happens when one receives an unexpected gift, a pleasant surprise, good news. Durito gives the best of his presents: an unbreakable and eternal mirror, a good-bye which doesn't hurt, which heals, which washes clean. The spectacle lasts only a few instants. The last notes end as the cities which populate this city take form. The Ballerina returns to her uncomfortable immobility, Durito turns up the collar of the trench coat and makes a smooth gesture towards the display window.
"Will you always be behind the crystal?" Durito asks and asks himself "Will you always be on the other side of my over there and will I always be on the other side of your over there? Health and until eternity, my beloved troublemaker. Happiness is like a gift, it lasts for a moment but it is worth it."
Durito crosses the street, arranges his hat and continues to walk. Before turning the corner, he turns towards the display window. A hole like a star adorns the crystal. The alarms are ringing uselessly. Behind the window the ballerina in the music box is gone...
"This city is sick. When its illness becomes a crisis, it will be cured. This collective loneliness, multiplied by millions and potent, will end by finding itself and finding the reason for its impotence. Then, and only then, this city will lose the grey of its dress and will adorn itself with the brightly-colored ribbons which are abundant in the province.
This city lives a cruel game of mirrors, but the game of the mirrors is useless and sterile if there is not a crystal as a goal. It is enough to understand this, and as who-knows-who said, struggle and begin to be happy...
I'm coming back, prepare the tobacco and the insomnia. I have a lot to tell you, Sancho" ends Durito.
It is morning. A few piano notes accompany the day which comes and Durito who is on the road. To the west, the Sun is like a rock shattering the crystal of the morning...
Vale once again. Health and leave surrender for the empty mirrors.
The Sup getting up from the piano and looking for, confused by so many mirrors, the exit door...or is it the entrance?
TRANSLATED BY: Cecilia Rodriguez of the National Center for Democracy, Liberty and Justice, Commission for Democracy in Mexico, USA. June 1995