Josefina dried the tears she could not cry in public, took the package under her arm and made her way slowly back toward her house, walking down the old cobblestone street as the sun fell softly in the twilight of a spring evening. Her sadness enveloped her completely and this time she could not keep from crying bitterly in silence for the loss of one of the beings she had most loved in all her life. Again she wiped away her tears and continued on her way home.
Josefina opened the door of her small apartment in the center of the city, and thought fondly once more of her grandmother who had just been buried, as she placed the package on the bed. Her grandmother had said that this was for Josefina, and that they would give it to her as soon as she died. The truth is that Josefina cared very little about receiving anything from the person she loved more than anyone else in the world, but she accepted the gift because it was a way of keeping the memory of her grandmother alive.
The object was square and quite heavy, and Josefina could not imagine what it could be. Her sadness fading, mixing conveniently with the natural curiosity of the circumstances, she finally opened the gift.
It was an old radio, one of those that had a dial and a green “eye” that winked every time she found a station that she could tune into. Josefina plugged it in, waited until the tubes were warm enough for it to work properly, and put her ear close to the speaker while she dialed through the different stations. To her surprise, she heard only noise and static. Very carefully she kept turning the dial, looking intently at the eye, until finally the eye opened, winked, and sound filled the room.
It was an old fashioned piece of music that came in extraordinarily well, and Josefina got excited about exploring further. Unfortunately the station with the old music was the only one she could tune in no matter how much time she spent or how carefully she turned the dial. Nothing, just one station that came in superbly.
Josefina resigned herself to listening to the past. After all, the most important thing was that her grandmother was present, and this filled her with a special pleasure and a sense of longing. Lying back on her bed, she closed her eyes and let herself go to the melody of a bolero. After that a couple of more songs filled the room, until the program was interrupted by the announcer’s voice, which took Josefina completely by surprise since the products and places he was advertising had long ago disappeared.
Josefina sat up on the bed and listened attentively. Despite the fact that she was only 23 years old, everything she was hearing had nothing to do with her present. The advertised detergents were products from another era; the advertised cinemas and their premieres were also from other times. At first she thought she was hearing wrong, but she quickly realized that not only was she hearing correctly, she had entered an auditory dimension that simply did not exist.
When the announcer finished elaborating on the benefits of an ancient automobile, he paused, and three tunes were played on the radio while the little green eye just winked, ever open and omnipresent. A new commercial break interrupted the program, and this time Josefina knew with certainty that the extraordinary, the impossible, or the unusual was finally happening in her predictable 21st century life.
Her grandmother’s voice speaking to the show host was absolutely unmistakable. As well as the clear words about true and verifiable events. Her grandmother had asked nothing less than to wish a happy birthday to her granddaughter, who would be 24 in a few days, which was accurate.
The entertainer, more fired up than the grandmother and taking the opportunity to promote the different merchants who were paying for the program, offered the granddaughter a gift – a gift from Tiffany’s, one of the most elegant jewelry stores in the city. A silver ring, it had to be picked up according to exact directions that Josefina, almost without breathing, wrote down on a piece of paper.
The entertainer said goodbye to the grandmother who, in her particular voice, spoke forcefully through the microphone: “Happy birthday Josefina, and don’t forget that I will always be with you…”
Josefina sat speechless and pensive for a long time. On the radio the different songs and announcements followed each other in a typical sequence and Josefina felt that without any doubt this ring had to be hers. But when she tried to find the address on the map, there was no such street, no such address. Worse still, Tiffany’s no longer existed anywhere. At first she couldn’t believe it. She went over all the maps, made phone calls, searched the cyber archives, but the result was inevitably the same. There was no such address. Then, inside her, something rebelled, and she decided to go to the place even if it did not exist. The next morning, very early, she set out for her destination.
When she arrived at the place indicated on the map, she was surprised that the entire area had been turned into a huge park with a beautiful lake surrounded by tall trees. A small plaque at the entrance explained the origin of the park, and what it commemorated, and listed the notables who had donated to the cause. At the bottom of the plaque, in small print, were the following words: “Welcome to all those who wish to be guided towards their deepest wishes.”
Josefina did not know what to think about what she was reading, and at the same time could not help feeling as if she had somehow given herself an answer. She walked to the lake and when she saw a couple of benches on the shore she decided to sit down and watch the sunrise from that special place. No more than three minutes had passed when a voice that she immediately recognized said to her: “Happy early birthday, Josefina!”
“Where are you, Grandma?”
“Here, right next to you.”
Josefina turned her head and all she saw was a small brown box resting beside her on the bench.
“Here’s your gift,” said the voice. “Every time you profoundly need me, just look at the ring, think of me, and I will be with you, one way or another…”
Josefina opened the box, and there was the silver ring. Carefully and solemnly she put it on her ring finger, and of course it was tailor-made for her. As soon as her skin felt the touch of the sacred metal, she realized that this was only the beginning of something meaningful in her life.
Josefina’s birthday was an occasion for the whole family to celebrate, and they held a party in her honor that lasted until dawn. That same morning the radio stopped working. Two of the tubes burned out and of course there were no replacement parts available. Josefina winked at the radio’s eye and said with a smile: “Dear little eye, I hope my grandmother has a great time where she is. I am beginning my studies to learn about my deep wishes.”
She took the radio, placed it on the sidewalk, kissed the silver ring and decided that that very afternoon she would joyfully celebrate the birth of the unexpected.
Portland, Oregon January 17, 2021