Friday, April 5, 2013

Cuando los Dioses Lloran (1936)

     Aunt Valentina was sleeping. The girls were very careful not to disturb her, for nothing infuriated her more than to have her sleep disrupted.
    The crimson velvet of the armchair enhanced the fairness of her face and her still smooth body. Her hands, covered with jewels, were lily white. Aunt Valentina, an incurable worshipper of herself, had happily reached her sixtieth year. The Gods favored the youthfulness of that body that seemed to remain strong and beautiful.
    Every morning, upon getting out of bed, in front of the mirror, she scrutinized her face on which not a single wrinkle had dared draw the sadness of its lines. When she parted her lips, rosy like those of a child, they revealed the sparkling harmony of her healthy teeth. She had stifled the only treacherous cry of the enemy in the secrecy of her bedroom, her inaccessible sanctuary, where only Monica, her old maid, was allowed. She was faithful to her like a dog, and zealously kept the secrets of her mistress. Only she knew that Valentina by indiscreet how she kept herself so fit, Valentina would reply smiling tat all it took were a good sleep and a cold shower. Monica knew that she was lying with admirable rheumatism which was torturing her! No one but the maid knew about the famous and indispensable foot baths which her mistress had to undergo before she went to bed. How her hands could soothe the pain of those muscles softened by massages and liniments.
     Valentina loved to be surrounded by beautiful faces, by the frolicsome gaiety of everything that was truly youthful. She tried to have her unmarried nieces with her. And since she had never had a daughter of her own, all her zeal for embellishment and care centered on herself and also a bit on the naughty youngsters who filled her house with laughter and chattering like a singing goldfinch. Monica was the target of their mischief. How often she felt suddenly embraced by playful arms: two, four, six, eight hands on her shoulders and back moving her to and fro and turning her round and round. She would drop the dressed chicken and between fuss and complaints, she would free herself from them raising an outcry.
     Other times they would approach her silently, and whisper in her ears the question which infuriated her: “ Tell us the truth, dear one. How do you manage to have Pedro, the charcoal maker, kiss you all the time?”
     Pandemonium would break loose! Monica, furious, —she had always been the most ardent champion of celibacy —would grab the broom and chase the mischievous girls trying in vain to attack them.
     Valentina would come to the rescue, in the midst of their continuous shouting and running around wildly.
    “What’s that noise all about, girls? And you, Monica, what are you up to with that furious broomstick?”
     “What do you expect me to do? The girls, Señora, the girls who …” Panting, Monica would become speechless and turning away would go to the kitchen.
     Valentina, trying to appear serious, reprimanded the naughty girls, but as if joining with them in a certain complicity, would end up saying:
     “Girls, don’t be mean. Poor Monica is old. She is very old! The poor creature is very old!”
     “Poor Monica” was just as old as Valentina.

Evangelina E. Guerrero- Zacarias
Excelsior. Manila