Pedra de Tartera

(De Maria Barbal)

Plot:

Pedra de tartera explains in first person the life of a woman, Conxa, as an older woman, far from the land where she was born, who retraces the steps of her life by reviewing the most important moments she has experienced. The main character lives a life of being uprooted during different stages: leaving the family circle, losing a husband and geographical distancing, migrating from the country to the city.

This novel, set in Àssua Valley, narrates the historical period of the first six decades of the 20th century and it speaks about events of this period such as the advent of the Republic, the Civil War and the first years of Franco’s regime, which has a strong impact on the main character, as well as the characteristics of her environment: the poverty of her family; the fact of feeling like a stranger in her aunt and uncle’s home; her dependence on them, afterwards, of the husband and finally, of the sons; the loneliness, the submission of women...

The link to Àssua Valley:

The narrative of this novel takes place in Altron, which is located in the heart of Àssua Valley. One part of the narrative, the death of Jaume, corresponds to a historical fact that occurred in this territory, specifically, it makes reference to the murders in the stone bridge of Rialp, in 1938, which are related in several books that deal with the facts of the Spanish Civil War in the Pallars region.

Maria Barbal explains in an interview that «the book arises from a need to express a wound that comes from our country’s history and that had individual and family consequences». She also says that «there was one Conxa, and I started from the image of a real person and from a truthful argument of some historical facts…».

 



«La matinada del 4 de novembre del 38 un escamot republicà passava a ganivet els soldats que feien guàrdia al pont de la Bastida. A casa hi dormia l’oficial de retén, un tinent. A les tres de la matinada mare, que obrí la porta davant l’insistent truc d’un soldat, escoltà com aquest donava la mala nova a l’oficial. La dona s’esgarrifà preveient el que fatalment havia d’ocórrer. El dia 5 es faria la razzia indiscriminada per la vall d’Àssua i a la matinada del dia 6 els homes que feien el servei de comboi veurien tots corglaçats en una finca de la vora de la carretera, uns metres més amunt del pont de pedra, uns cossos mig insepults. ...Oficialment sempre s’ha dit que caigueren assassinats onze veïns de la vall.» (...)
BARBAL, J. (1996). Els fets de la Guerra Civil a Rialp. Garsineu Edicions: Tremp



Els morts del Pont de Pedra
«El dia 4 de novembre de 1938, a primera hora del matí, va córrer la notícia que la guàrdia de soldats que hi havia al pont –penjat– de la Bastida, més tard desaparegut, havia estat atacada durant la nit i només en quedava un supervivent, ferit. Tot seguit, el general Sagardia, per tal d’investigar el cas, va demanar la col·laboració del Servicio de Información y Policía Militar de la 63 Divisió. (...)
Pel que hom assegura, el general Sagardia, allí mateix, va dir: “Fusilaré a diez catalanes por cada hombre muerto de mi guardia”. I tal dit tal fet. (...) A la matinada de l’endemà, el propietari de la finca anomenada “la Molina de Josepet”, acompanyat d’un fill de 14 anys, se n’anà a la seva propietat, situada passat el Pont de Pedra, un quilòmetre més amunt de Rialb, a mà esquerra. Allí trobaren unes quantes mantes escampades per terra i una boina ensagnada i amb massa encefàlica. També observaren que d’un tros de terra remoguda sobresortia una mà, i així se’ls féu patent el que temien, i que en un Rialb ple de por s’havia pressentit durant tota la nit. En efecte, allí, en aquell terraplè que limitava el prat amb la carretera, havien afusellat els onze veïns detinguts el dia anterior. Eren els catalans que demanava Sagardia.
Els onze morts, més ben enterrats del que els havien deixats els militars, van quedar en aquell prat durant molt de temps, fins que, a la dècada dels seixanta, en ocasió de remoure cadàvers de soldats morts a la guerra i enterrats al cementiri de Rialb, per dur-los al Valle de los Caídos, hom aprofità per enterrar al cementiri d’aquest poble els assassinats del Pont de Pedra.»
GIMENO, M. (1987). Revolució, guerra i repressió al Pallars (1936-1939). Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat: Barcelona

 

Summary:

Conxa is the fifth daughter of six brothers in a family from the Pallars region, at the beginning of the 20th century. When she is thirteen, her parents decide to send her to Pallarès to live with an uncle and aunt who do not have any sons. Conxa helps around the house and in the fields too, and soon begins to participate in the town’s festivities, especially the city festival… She meets Jaume at one of these dances, a boy from a neighbouring town, who will court her. In spite of her aunt and uncles initial reluctance, the relationship grows strong and leads to marriage. They would live with the aunt and uncle and children soon arrive: Elvira and Angeleta. The year is 1931, the uncle dies first and then the mother. General historical facts are also related that shake up Conxa’s life: the arrival of the Republic, the conflicts in Barcelona, the triumph of the left-wing parties… Jaume actively participates in public and political life. The environment is getting stranger in the country and conflicts emerge in the town as well. Meanwhile, Conxa is pregnant again and has a son, Mateu. Worrisome new arrives: some soldiers have rebelled against the Republic and a pre-war climate is evident. Elvira, the oldest daughter, is already of the age to marry. Some soldiers come to get Jaume and take him away. They also take Conxa and her two daughters together with neighbours that have children or significant husbands during the Republic. Afterwards, a terrible piece of news arrives