I’m watching the fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale. In the sixth episode the migration drama between Gilead and Canada is so raw that it has ended up pulling a few tears from me. And look, this season is disappointing, but still. Everything June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) has gone through to set foot back in Canada. The daughter who was stolen from her, the abuses suffered, the impotence before the State that violates and punishes, the wasted years. The campaign of marketing HBO has been aggressive (marquees, internet, subway …) and has played to compare Gilead’s fictional dystopia with today’s world. “The free movement of people in the country is restricted. Gilead or reality? ”, Rebukes the publicity.
And reality responds: El Tarajal. So before turning off the TV, in the same bed where I just cried for June Osborne, I collapse on the mobile screen. How painful the week has been. All those children, especially children. Many of us have cried from our sofas, our homes, from the solidarity that a European passport grants. What a pity for all of us who do not have it. Fortunately, the photo of Juanfran, the civil guard who rescued a baby of only two months, appeared. He was riding on his mother’s back. We don’t know what his name was, but we do know that he is alive. The victims never have names, only the wicked and the heroes. Juanfran’s image has been around the world. “For professionals like you, it is worth being Spanish”, I read on Instagram. “For people like you I have faith in this country”, on Twitter. It is the image we needed to be able to empathize with our idea of Spain. In this conflict, we all want to be Juanfran. He or Luna, the social volunteer who embraces the despair of a beautiful young man from her red vest. The world in that photo is the one we want. It almost looks like another campaign marketing. El Tarajal or reality?
Then there are the culprits, those too seem clear. At least all the sentences in all the newspapers start from the same subject. Morocco provokes, Morocco pushes, Morocco forces, Morocco coerces… Most of us have missed several seasons of this series. We do not remember the chapter entitled the Green March (1975) or that other so important, in season two, when the disastrous Spanish decolonization of the Sahara. But that now doesn’t matter, we judge the same, we get excited the same. But is there emotion without understanding? Or am I crying just as much for an actress as for a 12-year-old boy about to die by drowning?
The question is scary. And it leads to other mandatory ones. What the hell is Ceuta? Who lives there? What color are the people who hug each other on its streets? And what is Morocco? The Maghreb are all Moors, right? How bad the Moors, what an ugly word. And how dark they are, that too. But what a shame the children, especially them. And the women, they too. But you say Moor and it is something else. Like Morocco, too bad. Luckily there is Ceuta, which is Spanish and good and full of heroes who would give their lives for those children. Of course, most of us Spaniards have only seen Ceuta on TV. In that other series, Prince. Miguel Ángel Silvestre came out, very handsome and played a hero, that is, a cop. And he fell in love with Hiba Abouk, beautiful, who was married to a very bad Moor.
I have cried these days opening the newspaper, in front of the mobile screen. But not as much as at the end of Years and years, when Danny, one of the protagonists (British with pedigree) is forced to arrive in boat to his own country to illegally introduce Viktor, his boyfriend. The two manage to cross, but Danny arrives dead. It was very hard to see his corpse on the sand. Twitter was filled with outrage after that episode. Her body so white and so british lying there. It was terrible. Because Danny could be any of us. He was one of those who do have a passport, one of those who live on the good side of concertinas. Like June Osborne. He was a hero, because we could understand him.
On the other hand, it is much more difficult to understand the people who cross in El Tarajal. We only know that their life is very sad and that we can do nothing to help them, at most cry and rescue their bodies. But then I see the overwhelming video of a teenager crying in the water and crying out to a Spanish soldier: “Try to understand us!” It is such a deep, sincere and desperate plea that it pierces me. As if understanding could fix everything. And deep down I think so. That he is right. That the only thing worthy I can do is understand, put the other inside me, apprehend him. Accept at once that I am not a privileged spectator of a painful reality, but that I am part of it and that my understanding is capable of changing things. We are not going to change the world by crying. It is time to try to understand.