Non-Pilgrim’s Pilgrims’ Walk

Lucinda Palme

Non-Pilgrim’s Pilgrims’ Walk

At the bridge over the canal connecting Avenyn the High Street and Kungsportsplatsen the vibrant spot, lonesome Mats Liljestrand could see Leif Simonsson in the company of a woman. He was surprised to find Leif with a woman, and thought ‘so early!’ He also saw a glow in Leif’s face and the shine on head. The unusual glow is detectable to his longstanding friends and acquaintances; and the shine on his head is due to care for his hairs: dyed and neatly-combed and that gave him a chic look.

Who is that woman? Mats asked himself. The way she dressed, the way she walked, the way she presented her hairs made him to guess that she was not from Gothenburg, and Leif would have befriended the gypsy-looking woman somewhere from an eastern European country.

Leif and Mats came face to face in the middle of the bridge over the canal. Ideally, they wanted to avoid seeing each other but being in Gothenburg deprived them the opportunity from avoiding one another. They had the choice to walk past each other with a pretence of ‘not noticed you’ or show their ‘civility’ to one another. But Leif’s newly-acquired magnanimity showed up, and popped out of his mouth, he remarked, “Good to see you.”

“What is good to see in me, ah!” Mats said looking at the woman next to Leif.

“Good luck,” Leif wished wishing to walk away from Mats.

“I wish she will stay with you,” Mats remarked referring to the woman with Leif. She was attending to her call on the mobile phone in a voice that made the pigeons perched on the lampposts to fly away. And he added, “Unlike that woman.”

Leif Simonsson has gotten over his tragedy: lost his wife to cancer. During her dying days, he cared for his wife Francesca as caringly and tenderly as Francesca’s mother for over three years.

Francesca was Mats’ first wife.

“That woman made me to find this woman,” revealed Leif with sincerity.

“What did she do,” Mats asked referring to Francesca, “before she left you?” Mats inferred that born-Catholic Francesca was not only un-Catholic and also full of selfishness over everything and everyone around her.

“Please,” Leif stammered.

“That woman sent me a letter before she died, I guess, not opened it,” Mats revealed.


“I have an unopened letter from your wife,” Mats clarified and stressed, “my first wife.”

“Probably, requesting you to go to Camino de Santiago,” Leif guessed.

“I don’t know, I have to open it,” Mats said, and asked, “what is that Santiago.”

Leif explained, and suggested, “You can try.”

♣ ♣ ♣

During her cancer-treatment days, Francesca wrote a letter of request, as part of her bequest, with some of her money to Leif suggesting him to go on a pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago, after she was gone. Three months after her departure from earth, Leif honoured her wish by starting his pilgrimage from Gothenburg to Camino de Santiago.

In honour of his beloved wife, Leif reached St Jean Pied de Port at the foothills of the Pyrenees, and began the Pilgrims’ Walk. He is not a religious man but he wanted to fulfil the wish of his wife. For a month, he walked and walked crossing over to Span from France. On the way, he met Isabella Sanchez and they separated and they met and they separated. When he walked by himself, he communicated to himself within himself clarifying to himself the happenings of his life. During the walk, he felt the aches of the body, the anxieties of the mind, and the insecurities of the heart; but by the end of the walk his aches vanished from the body, the anxieties of the mind disappeared, and the insecurities of the heart receded. When he finally reached his destination, the cathedral in Camino de Santiago, he felt to his knees in front of Saint James the apostle. And he went to see the Romans’ end of the world: Cape Finisterre. At the known end of the world, again, he met Isabella!

♣ ♣ ♣

“Will do,” replied Mats intending to open the unopened letter from Francesca who left him for Leif more than twenty-five years ago.

Isabella Sanchez finished her conversation over the phone, and without being introduced by Leif to Mats, she told Mats as sincerely as an angel, unaware of the woman between the two men: “Do yourself some good, go on a walking tour or do something.”

Feeling the flapping of a flock of pigeons descending down to the bridge, they departed in opposite directions to their destinations for the day and with thoughts for the night.

—Lucinda Palme