Mind-Dancing the Loneliness of Freedom: The Life-dance-story of “Sanmao”1943-1991


“Jose , I’m back”. (1972).
At the time of my return to Spain he was in his last month or two of national service. His sister was insistent that I write him to tell him I had returned, but all I could say was; ‘I can’t write in Spanish – how can I?”. Eventually she said to she would just write a letter for me in English and have me add my name.

Eventually I did write him just a short note in English, and sent it to his camp. it said: “Jose I’m back I’m Echo, here’s my address”

It was ironic: when the letter reached his unit, there was no one who knew any English: when his answer came (it was quick) it said ”I don’t know what you are telling me, which is why I can’t write back to you properly”. He’d cut out lots of sketches of SCUBA divers and sent them along, one of the marked “That’s me”

When I didn’t write back, I got a long distance call from somewhere in the south: “I’ll be back in Madrid on the 23rd – wait for me”.


But wben the 23d came. I’d forgotten his note entirely, and had gone off with a friend from school to the suburbs to roam around. When I got back home that night my roommate told me that a man had telephoned in search of me a dozen times. I went over and over it, but I couldn’t think who this could be.

Just as I was pondering, a call came from another girlfriend, a married woman. She said she had something important to discuss, and asked me to take the tram to her place as soon as I could, which I did.

She ushered me into the parlor, asked me to close my yes, — I’d no idea what sort of game she was at but but I clenched my fist and hid my hands behind my back afraid that she would try to put into my hand a small animal or something that would frighten me. But I closed my eyes anyway, and as I did I just then heard the sound of someone walking toward me; then heard her say she had to step out a second but please to still keep my self seated…

Then suddenly I was embraced from behind by a pair of strong arms, an eery feeling. But when I opened my eyes of course it was Jose standing before me. I let out a shriek of excitement. — I remember that I happened to be wearing a floor length gown; he was wearing a hooded woolen sweater red brown in color.

The others in the anteroom all laughed good-naturedly because they all knew that though we were not boyfriend/girlfriend, our feelings were as if we were…

So it was that exactly six years after I’d left him that we reunited – fate had carried me back to his side.   

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