Prologue to Batalla sin medalla, Julio Anguita Parrado
edited by Stefano Albertini, Ana Alonso, Carlos Fresneda
Foca Madrid, 2004
“Ana sáhafi min Isbanía.” (“I’m a Spanish journalist”), was one of the phrases in Arabic that Julio Anguita Parrado knew. I believe that he learned the phrase in his twenty’s when the newspapers for which he worked at the time sent him to Algeria. That phrase was supposed to grant him some sort of special pass. Even though it regrettably did not save his life in Iraq, it did serve Julio to start conversations with Arab cab drivers in New York. Right after that phrase, Julio immediately proceeded to tell them that he was from Córdoba, Spain, the capital of Al-Andalus. And magically, the Spanish journalist and the Arab cab drivers running along the New York avenues amidst lit-up skyscrapers found themselves re-living together the splendor of the tolerant and enlightened caliphate. For a moment it seemed that the smell of Chinese food and car deodorant was supplanted by the perfume of the blossoming orange trees that fill the patio of the Mezquita in the spring. Julio was curious of others and very open about himself. He was equally interested in what the taxi driver thought and in Greenspan’s statement as well as academic speeches. He didn’t like to show off, but he liked to talk about his land and its stories.
I had the fortune to be by Julio’s side during his last six years on Earth. I shared with him the small routines of work-days, fun dinners, holidays, friends, worries, happiness, and anger. Julio loved life and drank from the cup of life in large gulps. He was curious about everything and was always eager to learn. There was always a class he had to take or was taking, another language to learn on top of the five that he already spoke fluently and which he didn’t miss a chance to practice. He was usually reading two books at the same time: typically an American essay and a Spanish novel. We watched films of all kind: from brainless action flicks to independent and refined art cinema. Or to be truthful, films that we would start watching, since quite often Julio would just stand up in the middle of a screening or of a play and would whisper to me: “I can’t stand it anymore, I’m gonna go”. At first, it used to upset me, then I realized that it was part of his vitality, of his desire not to waste any time with boring or useless things.