I consider the friendships of my life as my only true decorations. Almost always undeserved, they guarantee me remedies against discouragement, boredom, against all fears. They don’t let me down (almost never). They remain and accompany me on all paths. Far from thinking about defining it, friendship encourages me to write this as a tribute.
The Korthaus forge is simply a way of facing life. I once baptized it Hans Korthaus, in memory of a character from Erich Remark, who, for his part, made a permanent cult of friendship.
Neither Hans, nor Korthaus, nor German. His name is actually Humberto, he is a mechanical technician, and he works wonders on any lathe. I think that he feels when doing it, the same pleasure that I experience when reliving episodes of life in the open air. In that we are parallel, and in many years of life spent together, too. He has an island in the Delta, which is called “Tres Amigos”; and sometimes her need for peace and solitude falls on her for long periods of time.
-“I haven’t hung up the tools yet”, he likes to repeat, as a game attempt to beat time. Who doesn’t ever? He always returns to his lathe and his simple or compound rule of three problem. I understand it, because I also always return, ritually, to the black keyboard of my old Smith Corona.
This time, on the island, he took a seat in the boat with Oscar and Juan José. A crew almost as veteran as the boat. One rod each, with only one hook, and three or four mojarras, then went, in search of manduvas, to the Luciano and Caracoles fork. With his grumbling like an old maniac, the 5-horse Jumpa took them to that corner of the Second Section and, along with the afternoon, the three buoys fell on the water. The one from Korthaus was the first to signal a pique. He spiked, basked in the fish’s tail, then hurled his first curse. The loose line marked his defeat. The scene was repeated three more times to the enthusiastic shouts of Juan José, his usual rival in those jousts. Oscar, on the other hand, should review the line and that’s where the explanation came from. It just happened that Korthaus’s hook was missing its tip. The fish only had to open its mouth to get rid of that useless artifact for good. But the worst verification was that on board there was no fishing ticket; each one had embarked with his rod and his mojarras. Someone added a knife, but nothing else. The laughter was loud, and then the other two dedicated themselves to fishing and Hans -Humberto- to his musings.
Minutes later, he extracted one of the wands, cleaned the battered hook of all traces of bait and began to “shape” a new point with the back of the knife as a hammer. Cold forging. He was descending below the technical level of any caveman, but he didn’t let up for an instant. He checked that the burr still existed, so the problem was reduced to getting the point sharpened again. At last he began to feel some insertability in the blunt end of the contraption. Finally, and after a patient search on the floor of the boat, he recovered the pieces of crappie that had fallen, incarnated and, before the incredulous look of his friends, directed the set to the center of the pool.
A bullfight and, now, at the end, a beautiful manduvá with a greenish back and a reddish-yellow tail is being debated. Without wasting time, he hoisted the prize over the side and, now safe, slackened the line. Just then the hook was unhooked. Just a touch with the edge of the knife to the precarious point, and return to the water. Twice more the incredible feat was repeated. With Olympic pride he ended the day and dedicated himself to contemplating the peaceful landscape that surrounded him.
That’s how it is my friend. For my part, I know of countless such solutions. So many that it would be impossible to enumerate them. When the rest give up, he takes a shortcut and makes it to the finish line. At least, to “his” goal of him.
I remember his best feat and it was, in Punta Morán, making a propeller bolt with a rusty nail, a piece of line and a small axe. The difficult thing was to get the nail. I remember that we were all already imagining a return to a row of galley slaves and he began to walk across the sand and suggested:
-“Over there there are boards”, said. “Tables never come alone”.
Thus he found the nail; so we could go back to an engine.
The nail, the “forged” hook, facts that figure among those appreciated decorations…
Text by Rodolfo Perri