Today, I search for photos from when I was six or seven. My grandmother was the one who took them and put the albums together, so there are pretty much only photos from when she came to visit us from Vienna.
I discover that right at the age of six there is a gap. I can only find scattered images, and feel confused when I try to put them in chronological order.
I call my mother and ask questions. I am careful not to say anything that sounds like an accusation. First I ask about dates, and only after a while do I pose two or three more challenging questions. She is willing to answer. She tells me that in 1971 (I had recently turned six) she went to Mexico alone for half a year.
She went back to Madrid for a few months, which is why she is in the photos of my seventh birthday. She said at the time, my father wouldn’t let me go back with her to Vienna. So she was gone for a whole year, and I didn’t see her. Not once.
I left you because my father’s wife convinced me that it was the only way for your father to realize that he couldn’t take care of you, she said.
She also told me that the following year, in 1973, my father agreed to let me go to Vienna during summer vacations. I came back to Madrid in September, and she returned to Mexico. Half a year later, my father let me go back with her again. For good this time. Why did he let me go? I asked her. Because his blackmail panned out, and he didn’t want to take care of you anymore.
Martín is six years old now.