Whenever I come to visit, he’s under his blue blanket. It’s made of thick wool and it covers him up to his ears. It doesn’t’ matter if it’s one or three in the afternoon. He says that his headache prompts him to hide that way: under his own blue sky with no clouds.
Ten years ago he didn’t spend his days sleeping, or pretending to sleep. (No one is sure whether he really manages to sleep so much). Ten years ago my uncle was the same long, thin and melancholy guy, but his work kept him out of bed for long stretches of time.
It’s not that he doesn’t work anymore. But the factory where he’s been working since he was 16 can’t maintain the same pace of production anymore. Some of the workers have long hours of layoff, or have switched jobs or even workplaces.
I don’t believe that the others spend their days under a blanket, or even stretched out on a sofa. My uncle used to always have a couple of friends. Almost always, they were guys as tall and thin as he was, but not as gloomy.
I remember that one of them had the nickname of “Ball Player” and looked a lot like Michael Jackson. They had the habit of shutting themselves in his room to listen to music from the sixties and seventies. Sometimes they poured drinks, but other times no.
But my uncle’s mother would get sick every time a friend came to visit him. My uncle’s mother is very puritanical, and often quick to believe that people are doing something wrong. What could two men be doing in a room for so long? What are the neighbors going to think? (The closest house is more than half a kilometer away).
At any rate, with each visit a bad reception was the rule, and on each occasion the mother would get sick.
His friends stopped coming to visit him. Those from the factory didn’t come any more either, but would go out looking for better options. He lost interest in going to the beach, the theater or the movies. He began to have headaches in the afternoon and in the evenings.
Maybe that’s why he prefers to remain under the blue blanket. I believe he converses with all his friends in that very intimate space. He’ll listen to his favorite music, music that is no longer played on the radio, and he’ll invent a script for a good comedy.
Possibly, once under the blue blanket he’ll find the courage to recognize that he can only love people of his own sex; that friends are as important as family; and maybe he’ll even explain to his mother that this shouldn’t be cause for embarrassment.
Under the blue blanket is a man who dares all: to dream, to flee old age. For this reason I don’t get scared when I see him the color of the sky. I wait for him, and later we converse about anything he wants to talk about. That way, surely, I’ll be able to win a space for myself in his blue world.