Friday, November 2, 2012

La Sultana de Joló (1876)

     The sultan, awed by the beauty of Lólen, chose her from all the others and made her go to his bedroom. The rest of the captives were either sold or assigned to different kinds of work.

     The sultan bade farewell to his kinsman, congratulating him for the beautiful captive he had brought to Balanguingui. Filled with admiration for Lólen, the sultan said in the Visayan dialect, “Calm yourself, beautiful lady; forget the grief that overwhelms you. May you discover form the tears in your eyes that such beautiful eyes shine better when lit by love rather that when moistened by tears! In your land you have no power, here you will be sultana.”

     Lólen answered: “Sire, I prefer to be the humblest in my country than to be queen here. I pray that you permit me to return to the place where I was cruelly seized. At this very moment my poor parents are dying of sorrow because of my misfortune.”

     “Should I allow your return to your country? I would be a crazy fool, indeed.”

     “Why, sire? Is your conduct just? What right do you have to make me a slave when I was born free? Why do you bring me here against my will?”

     “I should not discuss this with you. I can only tell you that you are a beautiful enchantress and that you will be mine.”
     “I will die first”
     “How is that? You refuse to be my wife?”
     “I prefer not.”
     “Because it cannot be. If you allow me to stay in Jolo. I will detest you. I do not give my heart to one I do not love.”
     “And if you were not my captive, would you love me?”
     “No, because I love someone else.”
     “You have a husband,” exclaimed the sultan in an angry tone that instilled fear.
     “I have a fiancé who will be my husband.”
     “He will not be while I live.”
     “Well, I will not have another.”
     “Yes, you will have me.”
     The sultan approached Lólen to embrace her. Lólen stepped back and taking a dagger that was on top of the night table, she said with energetic resolve, “If you come near, I will stab your chest or pierce my heart with this dagger.”

     The sultan became still, restrained by the young lady’s determined manner. Presuming that affectionate gestures and flattery instead of violence would produce more favorable results, he said, “You are mad. Drop the dagger and let us talk.”

     “Talk all you want!” she answered without letting go of the dagger.

     “I have fallen in love with you. It is necessary then that you be prudent, for if you irritate me, I will take by force what you do not grant me willingly. Here, there is no power other than mine. I long for your love and I will have it. Contrary to my practice, I will desist from using violent means. You are now irritable because they have seized you from your country. I want to give you enough time to reflect calmly. In the next house, you will have women to serve you. Tomorrow I will visit you.”

Don José Montero Y Vidal
Cuentos Filipinos

English Translation from the Book “Cuentos Filipinos”  published by the Ateneo de Manila University in 2004 (Renán S. Prado, et al.).

Link to Spanish Translation

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