Voiceless witness

The following was written, in French, by a Swiss universitiy student. It was translated into English by her friend, Sonia Menoud:

A title that calls attention. I wish to be anything but a “voiceless witness.” This is why I’m writing to you, dear Rogelio. Since I’ve heard about your fate, there hasn’t been a single day when I haven’t thought of you. Truly.

In my own way, I’ve kept a sort of diary: I wrote down in a notebook the “extraordinary” events which have punctuated my days. These events, I offered them to you, in silence. But the recent reading of Isabelle’s letter, “Autumn letter to Rogelio,” encouraged me to share these moments with you. Here are some of them:


15th October.

After eating with JB (a schoolmate), my sister and I are heading to the sports hall of the University. While my sister is gazing at posters on the walls of the room, a seventy-year old man–short-sized, wearing a black beret, his jacket covering a hunched back—talks to my sister. I told myself: here’s a priest who knows my sister (she plays the organ and is conducting a Church choir. She is acquainted with almost all the Vatican). A priest. Probably. The sports hall is located next to the University chapel, and besides, I noticed on the man’s jacket, at the level of his chest, something that is sparkling: a cross? All the arguments worked in favour of my hypothesis, until I heard the man uttering these words to my sister, “Yes, the girls I’m coaching bought these gloves.”

My hypothetical priest was in fact a boxing coach!! As we say in French, l’habit ne fait pas le moine: el vestido no hace la monja? I smiled.


15th October, still.

I’m studying at the library. The weather outside is beautiful. I can’t concentrate on my readings, and I’m thinking of you, Rogelio. I decide to go out of the library and take a picture with my mobile. For you. It is fall, even though we don’t really see it on the picture (but I know that Isabelle gave you a fine description of our autumns.) Still, this is beautiful. It’s Fribourg. Next time, I’ll take a camera 🙂


16th October.

Today, at the checkout of the supermarket, while I’m paying my yogurt, I realize that I don’t have any spoon. So I ask the checkout assistant for a plastic spoon. She informs me where to find it. Oops, tiny problem: I would have to make my way among the line of people who are behind me, and the task looks difficult. I’m about to give it up when a man, at the very end of the line (so far away that I wonder whether we really are in the same shop J grabs a spoon, hands it to the man in front of him, and so on. I thank each of them, at each intermediary. A litany of thanks for a tiny spoon. Lovely.

In the same way, through a series of intermediaries, your journal has been sent to me, Rogelio. From mouth to ear. Mouths that protest . Who think that your words are more than useful, but necessary. I believe in the power of these continuities.


17th October.

I was supposed to give a lesson of flute to a six-year old boy. I completely forgot. The child came to my place, but I was not there. My sister welcomed him and explained to him that I’d forgotten about the lesson. To what he replied, “Oh, great. I can continue to help my grandmother to arranger her flowers!”

Either the child hates my classes, or he’s gifted as a florist, or perhaps a child is naturally optimistic and knows how to make the best of any situation.

I’d go for the third option, a lesson of life for everybody!


18th October.

I’m spending an evening at home, in front of the fireplace with some friends. We’re learning Lithuanian dances from a …Lithuanian, of course. And we’re making some “vin cuit”: a speciality from here. We boil some pears in a big container during 24 hours, which makes a sort of very dense syrup. It’s delicious!


19th October.

A hiking day in the mountain. I would like you to see the landscape. I’m thinking of you.

And I will always continue to think of you, Rogelio!







One Response to “Voiceless witness”

  1. Trinidad Boxer Says:

    What’s up?. Thanks for the blog. I’ve been digging around looking some info up for shool, but there is so much out there. Google lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the good work. I will be popping back over in a couple of days to see if there is updated posts.

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