Goodbye to Mercedes Barcha, the other half of García Márquez
The Nobel's wife and his greatest supporter died last Saturday in Mexico City at the age of 87.
Let's cut the romantic bullshit, putting up with an artist and his ego for more than 50 years deserves a monument. To suffer his literary career, the hunger and discouragement of beginning, the rejections, the drunkenness of success, to get around journalists, interested friends and groupies, and on top of that to read his manuscripts and continue loving him - perhaps not like the first day, but like the last twenty - that is something that not many people are willing to do.
Mercedes Barcha, on the other hand, did. She was not, as they say, the great woman behind the great man. She was in front of, behind and to the side of Garcia Marquez, something that the nobel always recognized to the extent that most of what we know about the "Gaba" was through his mouth.
To his wife he wrote the famous dedication of Love in the Time of Cholera: "To Mercedes, of course". How could he not? He also said of her in a 1973 interview: "My sign is Pisces and my wife, my spouse, is Mercedes. These are the two most important things that have happened to me in my life, because thanks to them, at least until now, I have managed to survive by writing".
Discreet, pragmatic, with a strong character and an acute intelligence and sense of humor, Barcha was not only the inspiration and zero reader of many of Marquez's novels, but also half of the success of the writer, who kept his feet on the ground and took care of keeping the family afloat during the 18 months that Gabo was working on One Hundred Years of Solitude, and later, when both of them had left their insides in the novel, the publishing contracts were slow in coming and it is said that he caressed the suicide.
At a time when they couldn't even afford stamps, at a time when it's hard to love.
Marquez himself made famous the anecdote of when, at the end of One Hundred Years of Solitude, he went with Mercedes to send the manuscript by post. The official weighed it and told them that the shipment to Argentina was going to cost them 83 pesos, but they only had 45. "We went home and Mercedes took out the last of the pawn," Gabo said in an interview. She pawned the mixer, the heater, the dryer... and took out enough to send the other part of the manuscript. "Now all that's missing is that the novel is bad," said Mercedes very angrily as they left the office.
She also followed him to the Barcelona of the 60's, to New York, where Marquez was a correspondent, and finally settled in Mexico City, where Barcha died last Saturday at the age of 87, six years after her husband did.
She was not Garcia Marquez's widow, she was the other half of the writer. His partner in crime.
Rest in peace in Macondo, Mercedes Barcha.