A FORGOTTEN OLD PHRASE
BY: EDUARDO QUEVEDO SERRANO
Current look of the property that was
once the premises of José Gálvez
FBC in the eighth block of Francisco
Pizarro Street in Chimbote, Perú
Between late last July and early August I was in Chimbote, Perú.
I traveled for family reasons, and I took the time in my hometown to continue my research on the history of the José Gálvez Football Club (José Gálvez FBC), my local soccer team.
I had many ideas in my head, but few clues about how to begin.
I left Chimbote many years ago, and I must confess that I have lost contact with people and with the dynamics of my port city.
To remedy this situation, I contacted my old friend Bernardo Cabellos Sabino.
Bernardo had a clear idea of the people and places we should see. And so we visited these together over several days.
Again, then, I felt like a fish in the waters of Chimbote. I walked down the streets of our port city with the same sense of novelty that I had in my childhood, when I wandered with my shoeshine box looking for customers, and with the same ease of my adolescence, when I rode my old rusty bike to each corner of our city.
In this way, I plunged into a flood of “Galvista” memories--memories about the José Gálvez FBC.
But despite having long chats with people from the gone days, still did not come to mind a phrase that I read as a child, one which for several decades became buried in the ever-wider areas of my own forgetfulness.
I first read this phrase in the early seventies. And I remember my hair standing on end while I quietly muttered each of its words.
By 1972 my father had closed the corner shop that he used to have in our house in Chimbote’s San Isidro barrio, and started a bicycle repair shop in the second block of Buenos Aires’ Avenue, just a few steps from Pizarro Street’s eighth block, precisely where the José Gálvez FBC headquarters was located.
Thus, during the '70s, I was lucky enough to see the “Galvista” players with the same frequency with which one sees anybody in the neighborhood.
Around those times, across from the team headquarters, used to live three pretty sisters who were my friends. The eldest and youngest were girlfriends of two of the “Galvista” players. The other sister had a less sophisticated taste, and for a time was “mi chica” ("my girl"), which back then is what we called the objects of our tender loves of adolescence and youth.
Thus, “mi chica” and the “Galvista” premises were two good reasons to keep me magnetized to the eighth block of Pizarro Street.
On the nights I could escape my father’s vigilance, I went over there to learn of teenagehood tenderness, and to see my soccer idols.
And on one of those nights I stumbled for the first time upon that old phrase.
By then I used to enter the club’s headquarters as if it were my own living room. But that night, for the first time, I noticed a large wooden framed placard that was hung on a wall.
The placard had a phrase printed in black letters on a white background, and a red stripe crossing it diagonally from right to left.
I read the phrase that night and for many nights following, always with the same excitement of a young unblemished soul.
After a few years I forgot it.
During my last visit to Chimbote, someone handed me a “Galvista” magazine containing, among other things, a few brief notes on the life of Victor Hugo Herrera Guevara, the upstanding central back that used to play for José Gálvez FBC during the second half of the seventies.
I noticed that the magazine mentioned February 26, 1973 as his date of birth. I knew that Victor Hugo keeps himself in very good shape (and still keeps the same hairstyle of the '70s), but he was definitely born before 1973. Besides, I remembered that when I had just started high school in the Gran Unidad Escolar "San Pedro", Victor was already finishing it.
I mentioned this detail to my friend Bernardo, and he said: "Let’s ask the man himself. He works in the municipality."
So we crossed Chimbote’s main square, reached the town hall, and met Victor Hugo. He said that 1953 was the correct year. We talked for a few moments, and then a pause came.
After this pause, Victor said:
"Eduardo, in 1974 when I arrived at the club premises on Pizarro Street, on one wall there was a rather large placard. This placard had a phrase printed with black lettering and a red stripe in the background. And the phrase read ...."
And at that moment, suddenly, I remembered the old forgotten phrase.
But Victor was already reciting it, and I heard:
"Wearing the emblem of José Gálvez FBC on your chest is an honor and pride. Take it with dignity and manhood. Prove you're a sportsman, a gentleman, a ‘Galvista’, and a Chimbotan."
When Victor recited these words, I no longer felt that I was with him in his office.
I had fallen back almost forty years in time, and again was a teenager. And once again I found myself standing in front of the wooden frame containing the old phrase. And again it felt like my hair was standing on end.
And in that instant of reconnecting with my own teenagehood, I recited in my mind the old phrase. As I did, I felt like an echo was repeating my words.
It was the voice of Victor Hugo that had just finished reciting the same phrase.
And I came back to reality.
It was almost noon on Tuesday, July 27th, this year, and I needed to return to the San Isidro neighborhood to have lunch with my family.
On the way home I kept thinking about the old forgotten phrase, and the forgotten promises in general, and the dreams that forgetfulness curtails.
A few days later, on a plane that brought me back to New Hampshire, the same thoughts came with me.
A final confession.
In recent weeks I have had the old phrase in my head, without being able to avoid it.
This piece of writing is an attempt to break free from it.
Or is there another reason for these lines?
New Hampshire, USA
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