Monday, February 6

The Putin of Ceclavín | Today

My mother-in-law maintains that the last straw of Putin’s wickedness is that, when he decided to marry his first wife, he asked his friends to request relationships to check if he was faithful before marrying her. The girl did not agree to the feigned compliments of her boyfriend’s colleagues and she ended up marrying the suspicious and twisted Vladimir Putin to divorce her a few years after her.

At lunchtime, in every house there is a lot of talk about Putin, but it must be made clear that before, long before we knew the biography of the Russian satrap by heart, we already had a family in Extremadura with that nickname and a gentleman who he flaunted that name. I am referring, of course, to a character that I have already talked about on this page, but who is more fashionable today than ever: Ceclavín’s Putin.

My mother is a ceclavinera and my grandfather Pedro and my aunt Consuelo were, between 60 and 80, the people in charge of the Telefónica in that town. My grandfather invented the yellow pages: some sheets of that color where he wrote the names of the subscribers and next to them, their nicknames. Because in Ceclavín, no one called the telephone exchange and asked to be put through to 38, but rather to Chochulo, to Caballero Cubierto, to Macho Mangafuego, Pitoduro or Lechivieja.

If my grandfather had gone to have coffee and had left my grandmother in charge of the telephone company, she only had to consult the yellow pages and connect the caller with Guiña the butcher, with the taxi drivers Pelillo or Clavija or with Juan Canchala.

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I loved going to Ceclavín at Easter because my grandfather left me in charge of the power plant and I really enjoyed putting Puchero, the trader, in contact with Bagacho el orive or Periquitín with Kirika. But what put me on the verge of spasm and unheard of emotion was that someone called and asked me to connect with Putin. I operated with diligence, but I was left with the desire to know the reason for that name.

Although the strongest was when they asked me to put them with the Patroputin. Not long ago, a student, who today has become one of the most interesting actors in Extremadura, came to see me and, so that I could situate him, he confessed to me that he descended from the Putin family. But why were they called in that family after the Russian dictator? Was it perhaps because Ceclavín had always been a borderland and a refuge for mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, deserters and aimless travelers and, perhaps, a Russian Putin happened to pass by? When I asked my grandfather why the patriarch of that family was called Putin and the matriarch Patroputina, he answered with a compelling reasoning: “Why is it going to be him? Well, because they descend from the Putin family.

In that family, Putin was the patriarch and the matriarchs were Patroputina and Clementa Tía. No, not Aunt Clementa, but Aunt Clementa. In short, another mystery of my mother’s town, a place full of gold and ceramic artists, a kind of rural Florence in Alagón. And I say Florence because in this city too curious nicknames abounded. There, Mariano di Vani Filipepi was called Barrilete, that is, Botticelli. Domenico di Tommaso Curradi di Doffo was nicknamed Garland Maker, that is, Ghirlandaio, and Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Monte is known in art history as fat or clumsy, that is, Masacio. But none reached the height of Ceclavín’s Putin, which in Portuguese means little boy and in Russian, translates my mother-in-law, “the worst of the worst.”

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