See How Much I Love You
In Spain, the working class Santiago and the upper-class Montse meet and fall in love. When the relationship goes wrong, Santiago, bitter and disillusioned joins the army and then volunteers for the foreign legion in the Sahara. Meanwhile Montse continues the expected course of her life—eventually becoming a successful doctor, married to a highly-regarded and, as it turns out, philandering cardiologist. Twenty-six years later, now middle aged, divorced and depressed, Montse carries on with her life. A badly injured woman arrives by ambulance at the hospital where Montse works. Although the woman dies, she leaves behind a handful of tattered photographs, and in one of the photos, Montse recognizes Santiago.
The rest of the story follows Montse and her journey in across the Western Sahara to discover the truth about what happened to Santiago. Those who decide to read this thought-provoking, serious novel would be well advised to read the background information at the end of the book first. Written by Danielle Smith, the founding director of Sandblast, a London-based charity which supports the Saharawi cause, this background clarifies some of the historical information that may be necessary for many readers.
The novel covers a great deal of political territory—Santiago in Western Sahara, and Montse in traveling across some very harsh remote territory with various groups with various political and criminal intentions scattered throughout the region. Reading the background information prior to beginning the novel helps put the story in perspective and avoids confusion. They slowly come into focus as I come to. W hile I was improving myself, my sister Jody seemed to be doing the opposite.
Do You Know How Much I Love You?
It appeared her goal was to get as fat as possible. She claimed a good broom was all you ever needed. You could sweep a rug just as well as you could vacuum it. She killed bugs and flies with the broom. She used it as a fan when she burnt food, and it was good for reaching and dislodging things. I saw her once standing over the toilet, using the handle as a plunger. She used a mop and a dust rag and dragged the Hoover up from the basement.
One year there were so many cans that we ran out of space in the car for them. My father said not to worry. He filled up three giant clear plastic bags. He hung one bag out each back window and rolled the windows up on them. He then took the third bag and closed the trunk on it so it hung out like a tail. My father was so impressed with his own ingenuity that he made the three of us — my mother, my sister, and me — sit on the hood of the car, wave, and say, Cheese! We thought it was the funniest thing.
But Jody never laughed anymore. Like one day we were standing out on the deck while my mother smoked a cigarette.
[Extract] See How Much I Love You, by Luis Leante
It was mid-July and it had just started to rain. There was fog everywhere and it roamed the yard in clumps. We huddled together under the small roof overhang. Only half of my sister fit underneath it. The other half hung out and got wet. A breeze picked up.
You complete me so I should fulfill you.
My mother went through five matches, cupping her hand around the flame and dropping each one on the ground as it went out. When she finally got her cigarette lit, she took a deep inhale, and before she was even finished blowing the smoke out, my sister started complaining. How can you stand it, Mom? She was watching him through the glass doors. I turned and looked at him too.
He sat in the dim yellow light of our living room. His thin mouth opened as he laughed at something on TV.
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He sipped his beer. He ran his fingers through his thick black hair. He was a handsome man, small and quiet. He never yelled at us. He never complained about anything, and sometimes he made us laugh. And he did — he built this house himself. My father was a bricklayer, and once in a while on Sundays when we were little, my mother made us dress up like we were going to church or something.
She was so proud of him. Fuck, bastard, fuck, bastard. Maybe we should all say them together. Thank God. Jody went straight to her room and slammed the door behind her. She came out a few minutes later carrying a can of Lysol and wearing a white surgical mask, like they do at the dentist. My sister walked around the house spritzing Lysol. She moved across the room and into the kitchen, where she disappeared into the pantry. There was a crashing sound. Empty beer cans rolled out in every direction.
The cat hissed and ran for the basement. She walked straight to the front door, balanced the box on her knee, flicked on the outside light, and opened the door. The drizzle had turned to pouring rain.
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Thick clouds had darkened the sky. There was a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, but Jody walked straight out and into the storm. I watched from the window as she took big, deliberate steps to the end of the walkway where she dumped the box onto the street. She turned to walk back. Her surgical mask was beginning to fall. Her long red hair was plastered like seaweed around her neck. Wind and rain battered the trees. The clouds churned. A bolt of lightning split the sky and flashed on the white of her mask.
My father turned up the volume as the audience laughed at a joke. My mother sighed. She walked over, eased the door closed, and shut off the outside light, leaving my sister in the dark. I walked over to the door. I turned on the light and pulled the door open. Finally I could see my sister clearly. She was now twelve. I turned and looked at my father, then looked back at her.
I had always thought that all she needed was to get in shape like me.
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But that night in the rain her shorts and T -shirt clung to her. I could see her body underneath them. Her hips were getting wider, her breasts were getting bigger. But I was trying not to notice that. I was trying not to dwell. F ifty reps of power squats and lunges and one hundred sit-ups later, I was feeling better. Then, halfway through my running-in-place routine, my mother knocked on my bedroom door and walked in.
It promoted blood circulation which unclogged your arteries and I was feeling totally clogged up. I picked up the pace a little bit.
The Skelters - See How Much I Love You lyrics | LyricsFreak
She put the cigarette back in the package. She launched into her speech. My mouth became dry, and I suddenly felt enormous amounts of plaque building up on my teeth. My mother went on and on. It was a longer speech than usual: She loved us.
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And did we know? But it was great. I was really pushing myself. She sat on the edge of the bed, lit up, took in a big suck, and blew the smoke out. I would just die! I was waiting for it. I knew it was coming. The part of her speech that always made me sick. I started going faster: Jumping, jumping, jumping. Jacks, jacks, jacks.