Luis Mendo
Luis Mendo


Maybe you know, but in Japanese the verbs for writing and for drawing are the same: “Kaku”. Although they are written with different kanjis: 書く and 描く, both read as Kaku.

After living in a country (The Netherlands) where the two actions and their results are completely separated and even violent enemies (see the story of the beeldenstorm) in today’s Dutch editorial floors, it took me a while to understand why the Japanese would use the same word for both. I hear funny sentences like “draw your signature here” and “write a cat with red pencil” often in Tokyo. Are these actions truly so different? In fact, we can render a cat with lines in a way not too far off from writing (drawing?) the 3 letters C-A-T on a row. And we definitely draw our signatures. Since I consider drawing and writing being so close to each other, it was only a matter of time that I’d start writing too. You can read my first attempts on my Medium page.

Below you will find some of my latest writings which I know aren’t very good yet, but you know, neither are my drawings.

Burabura 02 — One Layer Too Much


{Scroll down for English}

Una prenda de más

Ya sabía que esta gabardina iba a darme calor. Shibuya Station está llena de gente que va con prisa, que va a trabajar, a comer con amigos, a tomarse una cerveza a las 4 de la tarde.

Todas las clases de ramen, cientos de zapatillas rebajadas y decenas de izakayas. Don Quijote, Bic Camera y los almacenes Tokyu. Dos enamorados en camiseta cogidos de la mano, cinco turistas chinos armados con selfie sticks y seis americanos en pantalones cortos. Y yo con esta gabardina que me está asando.

Debajo llevo la chaqueta del traje. Bajo ella, la camisa. Y debajo la camiseta interior. De nada me sirvió decirle a oka san que no me iba a hacer falta pero ella nunca me escucha. En la oficina, los jóvenes van en mangas de camisa y yo les envidio en silencio. Se pasean por el borde superior de mis gafas, que siempre cuelgan a media altura de mi nariz. Oka san dice que mis ojos miran con pena, como suplicando algo, y yo prefiero no replicarla. Demasiados años, demasiados golpes, herido en mil batallas. Cansado, fatigado, extenuado, siento que el aliento no me llega y mis músculos están paralizados... qué calor por Dios. Y esta corbata que me está ahogando… estoy totalmente empapado en mi sudor. ¿Cuando he sudado yo tanto? Por supuesto que lo recuerdo. Yo era aún un niño, no pasaría de los 13 años. Mi padre me llevó a un ramen de un conocido en Kagurazaka. Era un día caluroso del principio de la primavera y mientras caminábamos cuesta arriba, él me relataba las calidades del soba que nos esperaba. El hambre y el relato de mi padre me propulsaban hacia adelante y casi no deparé en él. En la acera opuesta a la que caminábamos había un cine porno que anunciaba su oferta en grandes carteles. Todos castos (esto eran los 60) pero sutilmente provocativos. Y allí estaba ella: mirándome desde uno de los posters, con ojos de serpiente, hipnotizándome por encima de su hombro desnudo. El kimono oscuro caído por accidente, la curva de su carne y el color de tanta piel que casi podía oler me hizo comenzar a sudar de una manera descomunal. Al verme ahí parado, pálido, mi padre me zarandeó alarmado.

Al poco habíamos vuelto a casa y mi madre me ponía gasas frías en la frente. Aquél día nos quedamos sin ramen pero yo me llevé a casa la imagen de la chica del kimono caído y del hombro desnudo que nunca más podré borrar de mi memoria.

¡Qué calor por dios!

Luis Mendo
Marzo 2019

One layer too much

I knew I wouldn't need the raincoat today. It’s too hot. Shibuya Station is full of people, running around, shopping, on their way to lunch with friends, or to have a 3 o’clock beer. All kinds of ramen you want, sneakers on sale, dozens of izakayas. Don Quijote, Bic Camera and the Tokyu depatment store.

Two lovers holding hands and wearing t-shirts, five Chinese tourists armed with selfie sticks and six Americans wearing shorts and flip-flops. And me wearing this damn raincoat. Under it I wear the suit jacket, and under that, a white shirt. Of course, under the shirt there’s an undershirt my wife insisted me on wearing, not hearing me saying it would be too much for today. She never listens anyway.

In the office I envy my young co-workers. They walk over the upper edge of my spectacles wearing just the shirt.

She, that is, my wife, says my eyes are always full of sadness, as imploring something. And she’s right, I will not fight her on that: I am so tired, exhausted, extenuated, hurt in a thousand battles. Too many years, too many beatings...

I feel I can’t breathe, there’s no air in this train. And why is it so damned hot? This tie is choking me too, I am totally drenched in sweat. When was the last time I sweat this much? Of course, I do remember. I was about 13 years old. My dad was taking me to a ramen his friend ran in Kagurazaka. On a hot summer day, we were going up a steep street. Hearing my father describing the goodness of the ramen that awaited us made me go uphill twice as fast, I almost passed by it without noticing; on the opposite side of the street there was an adult cinema advertising their movies. They were all quite _kosher_ (this was still the 60’s) but there she was: on one of the posters, with her snake eyes, hypnotizing me over her naked shoulder. The dark blue kimono sliding so subtle over her arm, showing me more skin the 13 year old me could bear. The curve of her arm, the amount of visible skin that I could almost smell, made me sweat in an uncontrolled kind of way.

When my dad saw me there, paralyzed and my face pale as paper, he shook me alarmed. Not before long we were back home and I lied on the tatami, my mum putting cold gauze pads on my forehead.

That day I had no ramen but I went back home with the image of the girl with the naked shoulder burned forever in my memory.

Oh lord, it’s so hot in here.

Luis Mendo
March 2019