Adios Támbula

By Atención staff
Photos by Russel Monk, Gabriela Villareal

For 32 years he sold Atención and other newspapers and magazines at the Jardín. He inherited the job from his father, who was a newspaper delivery man, but he settled down by getting a permit to sell in the Jardín. He was Bernabé González Silva, better known as Támbula. Támbula passed away on Friday, April 19, when he was 52. Atención staff regrets his passing away and gives our condolences to his wife, Adela, and his four children. From now on, Adela and his younger 19-year old daughter will continue with the business. We say good-bye to Támbula with these two articles:

What lies beneath

Story and photo by Adam Ferguson

This is an excerpt of a feature article written for the issue of February 18, 2005. This is our way to remember el buen Támbula, who passed away on Friday, April 19, 2013. Rest in Peace.

Every time we wander through San Miguel’s historic center, we observe or interact with a myriad of characters. Whether we buy a newspaper or flowers, throw money in a beggar’s cup or hear the bell ringer at work in the Parroquia, these individuals are part of our day. But who are they and what lies beneath the surface? I passed by to ask these questions.

Bernabé González Silva, known as Támbula, is the newspaper vendor located in the Jardín, and like his father before him González has been making a living selling papers most of his life. As I sit with González, I watch him remember exactly which paper all his regulars want and watch him get frustrated by people asking for papers he doesn’t have, then retreat to the shade between rushes. González says he likes the Americans in San Miguel but gets annoyed by them asking for “Atención. Atención.” “I never have any,” he says, “and could make a lot more money if they gave me more papers.”

When I caught the bus home with González at the end of his day, I discovered a family man. Each afternoon he stops by his parents’ place to drop off his leftover papers and say “hello” before making the journey back to the other side of town where he resides as a husband, a father of four and grandfather of one. González said that during his workday, he makes one peso for every paper he sells and that he sells approximately one hundred each day.

Good-bye Támbula

By Alfredo Rivera Flores

He reigned in the northeast side of the main square. He didn’t talk but grumbled. Nobody understood his words, but everyone who heard took it as bad manners. For this reason, every day he got involved in four or five disputes. He seemed not to mind his business. He was not the only crier in San Miguel, but he was the one who was best known. The parapet of the square seemed so appropriate for deploying the early local newspapers and magazines; then, between 10 and 11, he received the expected shipment from Mexico City.

In the early morning the families living at the Centro paraded by his place to get the Reforma; the leftie parishioners reaffirmed their political beliefs by reading La Jornada; businessmen and merchants ask for Milenio; the soccer lovers could not leave without Esto; expats, in search of local news and what to do during the weekend, asked for Atención every Friday. In between scolding and scolding, he assisted everyone, but in the order he decided.

He moved with difficulty. It was perfectly logical, since he was almost as wide as tall. Surely he weighed about 120 kilos. It was obvious that his health was causing problems.  Body and belly were one mass that was barely contained by bib and brace denim trousers. He had the luck, or the intelligence, to locate his position within a walking distance of one of the iron benches. That was his throne and the space where his coteries came to flip through the TV programming or gossip magazines. Few were the chosen ones. Customers had to bring payment of purchase to his throne. When his discomfort became more acute he tried to calm pain by changing his seat; then he sat as riding a horse on the small wall and from there, he indicated in an authoritarian tone, from which lot the newspaper should be taken, and woe to him who messed them up.

Although he was just over 50, he undoubtedly looked older.  When he occasionally cut a little of his hair and shaved his beard, the flashes of the young man he still was stood out. Whenever his voluminous stomach demanded its fee, there was El Motor, his favorite supplier of tortas. While waiting he ate a few cueritos toasts. Before, during and after, he used to drink the sacrosanct cold Coke, followed by the stentorian belch. At that moment he reconciled with life. Soon after, he turned back to evil genius.

On the morning of Friday, April 19, everyone in the Jardín learned that Támbula had passed away. But only the shoe shiner a few steps away from the newspapers, was able to remember his name, Bernabé González Silva. Támbula will be no more. He was a character from San Miguel. Rest in peace.

Look for the Spanish version on page 38


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