Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another Freire Tale

Inspired by yesterday's reminiscences of Freire, i've asked my friend Clara if i could blog this story she sent me some years ago for one of my occasional 'zines. Clara and i were neighbours on the Plateau in Montreal for a number of years and together explored some of the shape and depth of popular education and Freirian praxis. I also had a wonderful room-mate, Heather, who was the CUSO education officer in Quebec and whom i assisted in organizing a number of popular education workshops over a few years. But the 80s turned into the 90s, Clara moved to back Spain, Heather moved back to Nova Scotia and i made that long trip down the 401 to Toronto.

Clara's father, José Maria Valverde, was one of Spain's great 20th Century poets. And when Paulo visited Spain he asked to meet with José Maria. Clara sent me the following:

Paulo Freire meets my Father (José Maria Valverde)

They are both dead now.

But before they left, the two frail-looking men met. “Teacher,” “philosopher,”
“liberation theology intellectual,” “communist,” “theoretician,” “writer” and
“wise man.” They both carried the same labels without letting them get to their
white-haired heads.

Paulo requested a meeting while visiting Barcelona and his entourage arranged for it. It was to be a breakfast meeting. The living room was packed with expectation: family members and admirers wishing to witness the meeting of the two Old Masters.

Freire walked in, wearing his sailor’s hat, quiet, timid. They smiled, shook hands and exchanged brief words in Spanish and “Portunhol.” They sat, each sinking their bony bodies into their armchairs and they grinned at each other like children, recognizing each other, not needing to utter any of the many sentences written in their long list of published books.

They were pleased, comfortable, sharing a few observations about the world, exchanging a couple of jokes, silences, complicity.

The entourage watched, some still expecting the “The Truth” would be uttered, some knowing that it already had.

Paulo left. He left me two things: his sailor hat and his words in a book: “To Clara, with so much clarity...”

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