Long-term resident



It was no coincidence that Patrícia Gabancho and I met at a meeting of an organisation called Veu Pròpia (’Our Own Voice’) founded by a group of people who were non-native Catalan speakers who believed they had a right to speak Catalan without being accused of treachery by certain radical Spaniards or treated with distrust by a handful of reactionary ’native’ Catalans. Patrícia and I, indeed, belonged to that happy band of foreigners who not only spoke but wrote in Catalan. Trained as a journalist, Patrícia became intrigued and then fascinated by Catalonia back in the late 1960s when she began to visit a Catalan cultural centre in her native city of Buenos Aires. She was surprised that they lent her rare and valuable books when she expressed an interest in them, despite not knowing her at all well, an act of generosity which made her realise that, as she put it: ’My God, these people have a cause!’ A cause in which she became deeply involved when she came to live in Catalonia in the 1970s. First as the co-founder of a pro-independence left-wing group and later as a writer of several extremely successful books (in Catalan) about Catalan politics and culture, including a work of future fiction – an instant best-seller – in which she imagined how Catalonia might later become an independent state. Perhaps my favourite book of hers, however, is an overview of Catalan literature and culture called El fil de la història (’The Thread of History’) that demonstrated not only her encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject but also a literary style – present, in fact, in most of her work - that was concise, personal, sharp and laced with irony. Her final book was an extraordinary investigation into the life and work of Catalonia’s first woman spiritualist, Amàlia Domingo Soler, whose turn-of-the-century Barcelona salon became a meeting point for anarchists, feminists and progressive Catalanists. Much as I – and many others – admired her books, it was Patrícia herself I admired even more: she was funny, forthright and always a pleasure to be around. A regular guest at many televised round tables, she had the unusual gift of making friends with people with whom she was politically at loggerheads. Despite being what the sociologists call a sociometric star – she had an exceptionally large circle of friends and acquaintances – she kept one secret from most of them, myself included: the fact that for several years she had been battling lung cancer, to which she succumbed last month at the age of 65. And those were the very years that most of us knew her as a lively, voluntarily controversial and often humorous friend. The news of her death, so unexpected, knocked all of us for six. Although, in retrospect, thinking about it, Patrícia did have one other character trait: a will power and a stubbornness that helped make her personality as strong as it was. And which was perhaps what decided her to conceal her illness from some of the very people who would have been most concerned about it. She will be missed. Indeed, is being missed.

Sign in. Sign in if you are already a verified reader. I want to become verified reader. To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader.
Note: To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader and accept the conditions of use.