Cuando estaba estudiando el traductorado en la universidad, en Lengua III o IV, no recuerdo bien, se nos propuso escribir sobre "one of the most astonishing experiences of our lives", es decir, una de las experiencias más sorprendentes que hubiéramos vivido. De todas las que pude haber vivido yo recordé una muy especial. La voy a copiar acá en inglés y, otro día, se las cuento en castellano (¡nomás para que practiquen su inglés en vacaciones!)
If there is anything that a dedicated Beatle fan ever hankers after, that is to visit Liverpool - John, Paul, George and Ringo’s birthplace. Then when you finally arrive in this Mecca, exultant and jubilant as you can be, surrounded by the magic and mystique of the beatle atmosphere and spirit that flies over the city as if they were part of the thick mist that rises from the Mersey river, all you yearn for is to devour with your eyes every street, every corner, every brick, every inch of the city, save them forever in your soul and take them back home with you. However, this seems not to be enough and you will also want to possess something more concrete that will make that feeling of “I was there” linger, so you cannot help stepping into one of those memorabilia shops where you can buy from a beatle mug to a beatle rug. I, of course, was not the exception when I visited the Merseyside in 1993 and felt tempted by the various souvenirs that were on display at “The Beatles Shop.” I must admit I spent a considerable amount of pounds on a number of beatle goods, among which there was a pen – a simple, cheap retractile plastic pen. Nothing spectacular. The only remarkable feature about it was that the legend “The Cavern Club – Liverpool / Where it All Began” was printed in red and yellow over its black body. Only that detail made it special and, as such, she was to accompany me everywhere. I attached it to my address book, which was always in my handbag, and that is how she flew to Argentina and came with me to every place I put my feet on.
In April 2001, I made a trip to Europe and had the chance of travelling to another beatle landmark: Hamburg, in the North of Germany. The Beatles used to play there when they were very young, and even got deported because George Harrison was a minor. As I was there only for the day, I decided to make the most of it and signed in for a hop-on / hop-off sightseeing tour in one of those British double-deckers you now find everywhere. I sat on the first row of the first floor of the bus so that I could appreciate a better view while listening to the bilingual English/German guide on the loudspeakers. A German young man was sitting two or three seats from me, camera hanging from his neck, notebook in hand. “Could I borrow a pen from you?,” he asked me in German, which gave me the possibility of practising my rusty Deutsch. “Certainly,” I replied, and I lent him my Cavern Club pen, which was quite worn out after so many years (in fact, the legend could be hardly detected behind the faded colours). I asked this bloke where he was from and he said he came from Mannheim, and that’s where our dialogue ended, except for one or two “Would you please take a photo of me?” here and there, as both he and I were on our own. After each picture he would write down on his tiny notebook the name of the place and some remarks very meticulously: “Fish Auction Hall – built 1895, restored 1982. Now: used for events;” “Katharinen Church – XIV Century, reconstructed 1950;” “Bismarck Monument – Unification German Reich – 14,8 m high – granite.” Three hours later, the tour was over and, as I had tickets for a play related to The Beatles’ early story in Hamburg (what else?,) I headed for St Pauli’s Theatre in the Reeperbahn. The Reeperbahn is the quarter in Hamburg where entertainment places for the sailors used to settle down. It once hosted a picturesque view of sharkbars, accordion tunes and dusky red light, and it was there where the Beatles used to play in the early sixties, firstly at the Indra Club, then at the Kaiserkeller and finally at the Top Ten Club. When the musical was over, I passed through a lively fun fair on my way to the underground and then went back to the Main Railway Station. My train for Innsbruck was leaving at 5 in the morning, so it was not worth spending money on a hotel. I thought I’d rather go to McDonald’s, have a snack and maybe write a letter to shorten time… but when I looked for my pen, I recalled having lent it to this guy… he had forgotten to return it to me, and what’s worse: I had forgotten to ask him to give it back!!! I was very angry at myself for having neglected my precious belonging. I would never recover it now… impossible to find a chap whose name I did not know (let alone his whereabouts) at 2 am in the city of Hamburg!!! He must have been peacefully sleeping at a hotel by now, or maybe at a friend’s… who knows. On top of it, I was being evicted from McDonald’s as it was being closed for the day. I grasped my suitcase and plodded towards the platform where my train was expected to arrive in about three hours. Lots of glass gazebos spread along the many platforms of the station acting as waiting rooms for the passengers, so I decided to slip into one of those. I dozed, always with an open eye since I had all my belongings with me. A lady passenger entered the waiting room and her steps woke me up. I resumed my light sleep and again the noise of the gazebo hinges caught my attention when an elderly man carrying bags and boxes tried to get inside. Later, two cleaning workers came with ladders to change the light tubes of the ceiling and spoke loud, which kept me awake for a while. I did not have any books to read so I thought I’d better go back to sleep for the nth time. Again, that door opening… and the noise of the hinges… and the rolling of a suitcase… and the steps of its owner. Gosh! I could only but grin and look up, just to be astonished at the discovery of the Mannheim guy’s flesh and blood standing there in front of me!!! The first words that came to my mind, which I uttered in a clear and polished German, were “Ich habe Dir meinen Küli gegeben, oder…?” (I have given you my pen, haven’t I?) to which he simply answered “Ja” at the time he produced my cherished Cavern Club pen.
When something really belongs to you, it does come back. Sometimes, what we think is lost… is not.