“Nothing is less sensational than pestilence, and by reason of their very duration great misfortunes are monotonous. In the memories of those who lived through them, the grim days of plague do not stand out like livid flames, ravenous and inextinguishable, beaconing a troubled sky, but rather like the slow, deliberate progress of some monstrous thing crushing out all upon its path.” Albert Camus
A small official sheet of paper tacked to the market door announced his death. We would have completely ignored it like we ignore other births and deaths flowing around us but for one word caught in the corner of the eye: Barxa.
The market door provides news for this small rural town and all the hill hamlets that swirl around it. Our raggedy half-wild farm is one such satellite.
This was a death we had to investigate—we knew of this man. Our farm lies on a broken road falling away from a remote village. Beyond it is a foot-path to the broad river Sil and a crumbling abandoned village. This man was the last resident of that village, Barxa. With him goes its memories, stories and secrets. This was reason enough to investigate the death: to try and collect those words before they scattered into the wind and the river. As for the cause of death, we suspected plague. Not black death, nor bubonic nor pulmonary plague, but an unrelenting invisible pox devastating Galiza, the country we live in. And so my partner and I packed our bag for the journey. Continue reading “Barxa: Death in the Countryside”