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Maria Kodama: so fragile, she seemed immortal


A delicate and subtle woman, the widow of Jorge Luis Borges cared for the writer's work as if it were his soul, and his soul as if it were his poetry.

Kodama, María Kodama

, a major segment of the life of

Jorge Luis Borges,

has died

, whom he cared for as if he had all the kinships with him, even those rare kinships, not yet named, and that perhaps he had found to define her.

She was like immortal, white, frightened that frightened, a delicate and subtle woman, she also endowed with an inner command, capable of destroying a certainty with a look, if it was referring to the life of Borges, or to her personal life with Borges .

One of the times when I myself was lucky enough to meet her without Borges already being there, tied to her memory and the reality she wanted for her biography, as lifeguard for the most important writer in the Spanish language of the twentieth century, I screwed up, and it was forever.

Although she was not right.

It was for varied reasons.

María Kodama had made many friends in Spain, in Madrid and also in Córdoba.

Here the wrong occurred that now, so many years later, I can tell, oh, without her getting angry.

Borges was in Madrid, invited by his publishers, then Alianza Editorial.

And the publishing house, whose director was Javier Pradera, found that the illustrious blind man had no company to walk around the city, for dinner, for example.

And it occurred to Pradera, who was also a senior official at El País, that I myself should fulfill that role of guide.

And Kodama? I asked the editor.

“Kodama is in Córdoba”.

So I supplanted her, we supplanted her, because even my daughter, who was six years old, accompanied that wonderful man to a restaurant where, in addition, they served a forbidden dish for a blind person: vichyssoise.

In the car he was singing Icelandic melodies, asking for the surnames of each one (he liked my mother's, Calzadilla, because at some point in his own genealogical journey there was one like it), and, naturally, for everything that occurred to him .

It was as funny as it was indiscreet, so at some point she even asked me to air out her underwear and her shirts so that the next day, when she left, they would be well cleaned.

Jorge Luis Borges, with María Kodama and the French photographer Francois-Marie Banier (C), in 1983. Photo: AFP

In any case, it was time for lunch, a dinner that had to be frugal because he couldn't carry the food.

But what he ordered was the riskiest thing for a blind man: the bloody vichyssoise.

That French food made of lint could only be eaten if someone had dexterity with a spoon, and he was prevented from doing so.

So this chronicler was spooning that ingenuity, while he interrupted whatever it was to tell his occurrences.

The next day I was still with him, and I got the best impression of someone who, due to his quality and his height, could have sent me to make an exit as soon as I left him in the room.

It did not occur to me what happened with Mario Vargas Llosa, whom I had asked in Lima to take him to pee (“You will be my captain”) and then tell him that, since he had talked to him about household matters, he would have to having been, in addition to the novelist he was, "a real estate agent."

There were many anecdotes from those hours with Borges.

And since we journalists are busybodies, I wanted to tell Kodama about them that day we met at the Palace in Madrid.

I started by saying:

-Once you were in Córdoba and Borges was alone in Madrid…

He stopped me in my tracks (in my tracks) and gave me this warning:

-I have never left Borges alone anywhere.

It was true.

Those words were true.

Before her, anything that would stop her relationship with Borges had to be part of her decision, and immediately, and forever, I never told her again what happened to the commission, so pleasant, so unforgettable, on the other hand, by Javier Pradera. .

Maria Kodama, during a press conference in Mexico on the work of Jorge Luis Borges.

Photo: AFP

Now that this difficult and marvelous woman, who seemed immortal because she was so fragile, has died, I remember her in other happy instances, although that one didn't stop being happy either, since Kodama later took me to pleasant hours of reasonable confidence.

Once he returned to Madrid, years after the death of Jorge Luis Borges, it was to present a Spanish edition of that book that seems like a work of art for a blind man, the graphic chronicle of his balloon trip through the deserts of Mexico. .

There she told me that the kings of Spain, the previous ones, had told them to be careful, because the bandits were there in guerrilla form and anything could happen.

"It's just that they don't want us to go," Borges told Kodama.

"Let's go the same!" continued the intrepid poet.

On that occasion he spoke to me a lot about Borges.

Some things I underline.

It was hilarious because it wasn't scary.

He was looking forward to getting on the balloon.

That night he didn't sleep!

He asked me if he thought the basket was going to be made of plastic or wicker.

Suppose wicker, I told him.

A car was following the route, and there you had to take a box of champagne bottles for the people of the land where you got off and a separate one to toast for having arrived safely.

You had to step on a stirrup, and he remembered that, as a child, he had been "an excellent rider."

He told the person who helped him get on the stirrup: "You are very big, you can step on me if I don't manage to pass."

I told Kodama that this trip represented Borges.

She was already at the stage where she told the journalist whatever, because she was no longer that gossip that she kept telling him that one day she had usurped Kodama's presence.

So she told me things that later went around in my head as the simplest explanation of her love for Borges, for taking care of him, for pampering him, for not leaving him in the sun or in the shade, taking care of his rights as if they were his soul, and his soul as if they were his poems.

"He was never interested in other things," she told me, "other than discoveries or things that she had read and that later became a reality that fascinated her."

María Kodama died this Sunday at the age of 86.

Photo: AFP

That infatuation with Borges was similar to that of Borges for life.

For years I maintained among those who continue to be tempted to put her down, because she was either distant or unfriendly, that this was because she was in charge of a treasure.

And that man was a treasure that had no better guardian than this woman who now, in the stars, will continue to watch over Borges, who will also be awake aboard a paper balloon holding the verses that made him the most amazing man, of the most beautiful imagination, most emphatic and sensitive, of those that were made in the century that Borges did better than he was.

Thanks to Kodama, too, in the decisive part of the farewells.

This time it's her turn, and I see her shake her head, possessed by Borges, encouraged by Borges, her eyes dressed as Borges, in the place where she wanted to sit because it was the only place in the world where she could see yellows well.

look also

María Kodama, writer and widow of Jorge Luis Borges, died

The 40 years of democracy and the centenary of Borges' first collection of poems, axes of the 2023 Book Fair

Reissues and tributes to 100 years of "Fervor de Buenos Aires", the first book of poetry by Borges

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-26

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