Some music

By Hernán Ronsino


Leonora Djament

Directora editorial

About the book:

Juan Sebastián Lebonte is a musician. It was not his dream, but his father’s. While touring some small towns in Eastern Europe, he receives the news that his father has passed away and decides to come back to Buenos Aires. When his inheritance is shared out, he finds out his father left him a small field in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, of which no one in the family has any recollection. Ronsino’s powerful voice explores the father-son bond, family secrets and the possibility of finding a crack that prevents history from repeating itself, some sort of escape.


When Navia finally tells me that my father has passed away, I’m about to go on stage to play. I’m not sure why on momentous occasions my mind always starts drifting to trivial things; the world opens up in countless spots and I can’t stop shedding light on every minor plot, every hidden sound. For example, backstage, while a sense of light calm creeps into my body and while I feel with the tip of my tongue that a molar is wiggling slightly, it strikes me that this city has a river that splits it in half, a gothic cathedral, a statue of Leon Tostoy with one arm longer than the other and a name that is impossible to remember. It’s a city in Eastern Europe. Navia’s voice repeats that it has just happened. “We can call it off if you want, Juan,” he says, “we can call the whole thing off.” He gives me an overly tight squeeze on my shoulder; a squeeze that lingers in time and makes me feel one part of my body very intensely. I’d rather get on with things as they are even though I’m far away, or actually, because I’m far away. I'd rather sit down at the piano and play thinking about the figure of Tolstoy by the peaceful river. I’d rather hear the restless movement, alive, of the forty people in the audience. I’d rather go on. And run with my fingers so that the keys are the exact point of the pain, my discharge point. And while I’m playing, the word escapes and that scene that my father would describe to me over and over—Bill Turner lost for months in the countryside—starts to seem like a plausible harbor, like a light suspended in the dark.

There are three more concerts scheduled after that night, in very far off cities. Navia manages to cancel two of them and move my flight forward to the afternoon following the last concert in a city by the North Sea. Ostende. Actually, when I find out about the name of the city, the same as the seaside town in Argentina, I tell Navia that by no means will we call that one off, that’s where the tour should end. Navia is hesitant because it is the easiest city to cancel and the most expensive to go to. Besides, only a few tickets have been sold. I insist. “It may sound like a whim, but it’ll be the last one,” I tell him. There is sorrow in my voice and Navia, who always argues about everything, bites his lip and tries to be nice. I believe that deep down Navia doesn’t get why I want to continue with the tour instead of making it to my father’s funeral. It’s raining in Ostende. The signs read: Öostende. A small city, almost empty during fall, opening up like a fan against the bay. All the vertical streets lead down to the sea. Or start at the sea. And the others, the horizontal ones, display an endless string of hotels, restaurants and hair salons. The sheer number of hair salons and the absence of trees are striking. Navia decided to book only one room for both of us on the main street. He's concerned that we didn’t cancel the concerts. Rain washes away any chance of a stroll. But, with an upset Navia in the room, I had no choice but to go out. I lie to him. I say I’ll go out for a smoke. At the hotel front door, the rain seems less heavy. So I borrow an umbrella from the reception desk and I’m ready to get lost in the city. And getting lost in the city means inevitably choosing some of the vertical streets. The first thing I notice is how powerful the air is, its water-like consistency. I walk down a cobblestoned street. I hear some seagulls whining. And I quickly realize how useless the umbrella is. A whirlwind takes it away from my hands. It guts the metal structure holding the fabric. It drags it until it gets caught between the wheels of a car. I finally give up and go on. There is nothing to do about it. I push my hands deep in the pockets of my coat and slowly make out, in the mist, the shape of that strange sea. I notice the textures, the nuances; the gray against a blurred and foggy background. If I had, let’s say, to make it sound, I'd play it like this: gray against a blurred and foggy background. It’s the North Sea.

The girl appears between the houses laid on the sand, mounted on four concrete sticks, for tourist use in summer. There is a wide space beneath the tiny houses. The sea rises confidently at night over that space, sweeping the sand and then receding with fake delicacy. Because the sea always leaves its scab. Its impregnating smell. The girl is wearing a thick wool sweater and her legs are bare. She must be around twenty. She plays a small trumpet towards the sea. The sound is uneven, but she’s composing an architecture; she eventually ends up drafting a drawing in the air. She doesn't mind the rain or the wind. The roaring of the sea is mixed, again, with the flock of seagulls. Seagulls, I think, are associated with backwater; when you hear a seagull you can anticipate peace or an irremediable ending. Or what’s left of a shipwreck. Bill Turner, as my father used to say, built a house in the countryside with wood leftovers and lived there for eight months, without him really remembering the whole thing. The house was a rickety shack that could barely resist the buffeting of a storm. He even had a dog. The essential bond in that natural state. But what force drove him and made him live in a body that, by the looks of it, didn't show any signs of such exile? We are the unknown, my father would say before playing his favorite album, beneath the window that looked out onto the street. The dull light entering from the backyard resembles this gray sun, a perfect circle, going down there, at the end of the sea. The silhouette of the merchant ships approaches now that the fog is lifting. It is a high relief of gears drawn in the horizon.


Translated by Sebastián Gutiérrez - Edited by Laura Estefania