Chapter Five: The consolidation of forces
May the brothers be united
that’s the fundamental law,
because if they fight each other
they’ll be devoured by outsiders.
– José Hernandez
A crowd of three thousand Hutus was standing at the valley when Marcio arrived with a megaphone. He stood ten meters away from the first man at his reach and started shouting in Hutu: -People from the Hutu clan, today is the first day of the rest of your lives! Your past is abolished from today! From now on you’ll be only what you decide to be!-
No one understood what he was talking about, so a funereal silence fell on the crowd. Marcio went on: -You’ve spilled your brother’s blood and your families’ blood has been spilled by your brothers; you’ve done wrong and it’s time to stop this fratricide!- Some shouts of deep sorrow and rage were heard among the audience. -It comes a day when you need to decide between perpetuation of evil or forgiveness. This is your judgment day! You’ll be judged by the worst judge: yourselves! Those of you who’ve stained their hands with your brothers’ blood, let your own conscience punish you! Those who have their hands clean, follow me in the building of the Congolese nation!-
Loud crowds succeeded and overlapped each other for twenty minutes. Marcio had a hard time shouting his throat out, trying to make them keep their quiet so he could go on speaking. At last relative silence was made and he went on: -But for the building of a Congolese nation, the reconciliation of the estranged brothers is necessary. Today you will shake hands with your enemy and he’ll stop being your enemy to become again your brother.- The indignation among the crowd was so extended that it started disbanding into groups that walked away from the crowd. The groups that remained were so loud and out of themselves that it was to no avail to try to shout over their voices. The people was so upset that they stopped paying attention to Marcio and started shouting things to each other and showing their indignation in various forms before getting the hell out of that place and abandoning this lunatic to his lot. However, some of the people saw what Marcio was doing at that moment and they elbowed their way to a place from where they could better see what he was actually doing. Some other people instinctively turned their eyes towards the place their neighbors were staring at and were hypnotized by the singularity of Marcio’s actions. The general feelings was a mixture of astonishment and intrigue. They were already starting to think that Marcio had finally lost it and was completely out of his hinges. They stared at him with deep concern; after all, they didn’t wish him bad and they were sorry for him.
Marcio stood in front of them with a pair of scissors in his hands. At his feet laid a bunch of dark hair that looked more like freshly shorn wool. He finished shaving his hair diligently and meticulously, which took him at least five long minutes, until he was finished. By then the crowd had fallen into silence again, so he raised the megaphone to his mouth and said, not shouting, but very clearly and with a hint of extreme anguish in his voice: -This is the first day of the rest of my life. From now on I’ll stop being my past and I’ll join you, Congolese brothers, in your struggle for the present. Accept this symbolic sacrifice as a tribute to your courage.-
That was all he said because the emotion started strangling his voice. People knew that the sacrifice he’d just made was more than symbolic; it was real. And they also knew that his sacrifice had been made while ago, in the confines of a small village of Argentina, where he was a happy man with a sweet girl in his arms. Although they were tough men, born and raised in the most inhuman place on earth, they still understood love and happiness, and they understood that Marcio was one of them by choice, which brought some of them into tears. Marcio was too excited to speak and they were afraid even of approaching him; the ten meters distance was still kept in an act of respect towards this singular man, this alien that had come, like the Little Prince, to the most desolate confines of the earth, just to ask for someone to draw him a lamb.
At the top of the hill, hidden by rocks and by the sun on their backs, stood three thousand of members of the Tutsi clan: The ones that had heard Marcio’s call and had managed to come. There were two hundred radios among them and all of them were tuned to the same frequency. They hadn’t missed a word of what Marcio had said; he had put a transmitter in his backpack in order for them to hear. They couldn’t understand the full meaning of Marcio’s words because they hadn’t seen his shaved head. However, they sensed the solemnity of the moment and they hushed each other to hear better. They were waiting for Marcio’s voice of command and they heard it: “Now let’s receive our fellow men, our kindred, blood of our blood, let us stay in peace while we wait for our Huli brothers to come.” They started descending the hill, cautiously but firmly, towards their enemies.
When the Hutus saw the Tutsis coming there was a stir in the crowd. However, the stir was suppressed in its bosom because it couldn’t outburst. If they wanted to attack the Tutsis, they would have to run over Marcio, who was in their way, and no one dared to do that. After half an hour of tense expectation, the whole Tutsi group seemed to finally be in their position, twenty meters away from the Hutu crowd. Marcio spoke: “I know that many of you still harbor rancor and revenge in your souls and I don’t expect you to hide it here just to let it burst out in the middle of our revolutionary project. That’s why I’m telling you this: If someone wants to kill a brother, let him step up to here and fight me first. If you win, you’ll have your revenge, but if I win, you’ll humble yourselves and agree to be part of the greater cause.” At first no one understood what the challenge consisted in, so Marcio repeated: -I said that if you have murderous intents, come here and play them out against me. I offer myself as the first recipient of your rage.-
A few minutes were necessary for the crowd to grasp the full meaning of Marcio’s words. They didn’t want to fight him, but they didn’t want to leave their enemies unpunished. The challenge seemed to them a good opportunity to have an advantage over their enemies by defeating their common leader. However, for most people, this was just a mad idea; they knew that as soon as Marcio was dead, the clans would engage in deadly combat. But the rooted feelings were more powerful than reason, so people pushed their way to the head of the crowd with the intention to fight that arrogant man in front of them. People from both crowds formed bunches that waited just for Marcio’s orders to show their bravery and fulfill their revenge.
Marcio said: -Let the first brother from the Huti clan come and fight me.-
All the rumors were hushed and some breaths were held while the most decided one of the Hutis made his way up to Marcio. At the beginning, he just stared at him with all his pent up anger, but then he charged him with all his might. Marcio step aside the man’s blind rage and barely avoided the but of a forehead in his direction. The man was much heavier than Marcio and his arms and chest were twice as thick. Some people thought of intervening in Marcio’s help, but they didn’t want to disobey his orders and do something that could endanger the momentary truce among the clans. Marcio managed to agilely slip away from the man’s blows and charges, and he even attempted a few blows himself; however, the people were concerned about the result of the combat.
It happened suddenly, as a snake bite. Marcio leaped aside the man’s charge and dealt a quick kick to his ribs. The man fell to the ground shrunken like a sleeping dog. He remained there, giving no signs of standing up, when Marcio went for his megaphone and shouted to the man: -Take this brother back home and let a Hutu brother step up, if he wants to fight.-
He started taking the rest of fighters one by one in combat, first a Tutsi member, then a Hutu member again. The only rule was to fight barehanded, as a man. Some adversaries were a head taller than him, but he managed to kick them between the ribs or in the pit of the stomach in a way that left them unable to fight for a good while. Another rule was that no one had two chances to fight, so once they surrendered, they must promise to agree to his rules; it was just a question of honor, and no one would allow this agreement to be broken. However, after the fifth adversary, Marcio started to show signs of extreme fatigue; he barely managed to punch down his opponent. The sixth man had a stout body that instinctively stuck to Marcio’s in a suffocating embrace. Marcio couldn’t escape this embrace and he didn’t have a chance to deal his fatal blow; he was doomed. Marcio’s opponent didn’t let go of his grasp; like a constrictor boa, he just tightened his clasp on his victim in a slow but irredeemable path to death. Marcio gasped for air, his face red and his eyes bloodshot, until he fainted. The man let go of Marcio and stared at him on the floor as a kid who’s just killed a bird. He didn’t know what was next; no one knew. The impasse lasted half a minute; they were all looking at Marcio, who seemed to be alive but utterly defeated. Suddenly, someone from the same clan as Marcio’s opponent steped to the fighting ring. He slapped the man on the face so hardly that the man fell to the ground and remained there grabbing his left year with both hands. The man who’d stepped up shouted: -If anyone still wants to fight, let them fight with me! Otherwise, let’s Marcio’s will be done!- Another minute ensued, in which no one answered; A hand seemed to be raised somewhere in the Hutu crowd and a voice was heard saying: -I’ll fight you, you son of a bitch!-, but no one saw it clearly because it was immediately lowered by a neighbor hand that said -Shut up, you bastard!-.
Marcio then shouted: -Now let the brothers unite in a common embrace!- and he went and grabbed a Hutu member by the hand; he brought it to the middle, where he stood until Marcio brought a member from the Tutsi clan. He took both of them by their hands and make them shake hands. Then he went on bringing people from both clans to the middle until, like children who have learned the drill, they started doing by themselves.
Thus peace was done among the Hutus and Tutsis.
Part Two: The story telling
Marcio was exhilarated by his meeting with Aurelie the previous day. He’d read her one of his horror stories and she’d shown her appreciation of his creativity and descriptive abilities. He’d inclined himself towards story telling and writing while in his long campaign in the Congo; he hadn’t wanted his mind to become numbed by social interaction and physical activity, so he wrote some short stories that by chance had a tinge of horror in them: -The main attribute of a short story is its surprise effect,- he said -and the uncanny is the most powerful surprising element.- He admired Alan Poe, but he had also read an Argentinian short story writer: Horacio Quiroga, whose examples he followed. In the solitude in which he’d found himself, dedicating himself fully to a social cause and not being able to take care of his personal life, he’d resorted to writing to reach some intimacy. He was sure that lasting friendship is not struck up where political interests are at stake and unfortunately his social and economic revolution was also a political one. That is why he wrote some horror stories, which he shared with whoever liked literature. Some days, a group of twenty to fifty people would encircle him while he told one of his freshly baked stories. His were tales of real horror. No ghosts, no walking dead people were involved; they were just stories about the infinite human capacity for evil and madness. His first story was born one day in which his group was asking him about his life back in Argentina. He knew they meant well and that they thought their questions were flattering to him, but they didn’t know that Marcio was immune to compliments and that it was already the umpteenth time that he repeated himself. So he decided to play a joke on them and he invented a story whose surprising effect was increased by the fact that everyone thought he was relating a real event. Later on, they would ask him to retell this story, which had fascinated them, and which they called: The empanadas.
I was walking one afternoon, as usual, to kill time diner lunch was ready. My wife worked full-time so I was in charge of the household. I didn’t mind the cleaning because it was a small house. I loved cooking and I didn’t mind washing the dishes, so that wasn’t a problem either, and my wife helped with the washing and ironing of the clothes. However, I felt uncomfortable taking care of my child. He was a blond one-year-old angel with one eye blue and the other brown. I liked watching him play with his mother and smile at her, while he uttered some indecipherable sounds and clasped his little hands to her clothes and hand. However, whenever I held him in my arms, his eyes lost all their brightness and his smile faded. I even fancied that his eyes turned brown before me and became blue only in his mother’s presence, but whenever I told this to my wife, she just broke into laughter.
The afternoon was calmer than usual. I had left the empanadas in the oven; I liked cooking them over low heat so they didn’t lose their juiciness. For those who don’t know, empanadas are a salty pastry filled with various ingredients. That day I had chosen my favorite filling: read meat. I always seasoned it very well, so the different flavors would blend into an indiscernible pleasure to the palate. It would take at least an hour till they were ready and I didn’t like hanging around with food in the oven, because I was always tempted to open it and check if it was ready, not without taxing the dish with a mouthful that I took out of mere impatience and gluttony. So there I was, passing by the butcher’s and reading the promotions: 10 zl for a kilo of boneless pork seem an offer no one would let pass by, but that day I didn’t feel inclined to consumerism. I had the presentiment that my wife would turn vegetarian after that day’s meal, but I couldn’t explain myself why.
It had been half an hour since I went out and I had passed a park full of pigeons on my way. I was a fervent carnivore and I had always thought that wherever there are pigeons, people can’t die of hunger. Sometimes I imagined shooting at them with a sling and bringing one or two back home, just to see if they tasted like chicken. But some people disabused me of this idea by telling me that urban pigeons carried many diseases. Thus I gave up my hunting fantasies just to dedicate myself completely to domestic activities such as changing diapers and making sure the kid didn’t cry while my wife was sleeping. Of course we took turns on these tasks, which was more than fair to me, but I still couldn’t get used to this ultimate act of civilization: caregiving. I always supposed that taking care of a child of mine would be a mere instinctive act that would kick in as soon as I saw my progeny in front of me, but it hadn’t happened as expected. The more I tried, the more awkward I felt in front of that child; it seemed that he could guess that I was making a fool of myself and he enjoyed humiliating me. The mischievous fiend would start crying as soon as I put a hand on him and finish only when I’d finished changing his diaper or cleaning him up. My wife had grown weary for this reason and she blamed it all on my carelessness and lack of attention. She’d showed me a hundred times how to hold the kid so he wouldn’t cry or how to play with him so he’d laugh, but my movements and gestures were just a pantomime of what they should’ve been, so in the end she’d taken upon herself all the tasks that were related to the child and I did all the cooking and cleaning to compensate. I was more than happy with the deal and I could at last enjoy of the pleasure of watching from afar, with admiration and fearful respect, that small dictator become a human being.
I was lost in my thoughts when suddenly my mobile phone rang. It was my wife; she was coming back from work and she was calling to know how everything was going. Everything in order I said; the food should be ready in fifteen minutes. I turned towards the house at that moment and sped up my pace because I had been wondering aimlessly and I was quite far from it. “Where are you?” She asked, “It seems like you’re outside the house”. “No, I’m just in the balcony” I said, so as not to worry her. I didn’t know why but I knew she’d worry if she knew I was outside. “So I’m getting there in fifteen minutes sharp,” she said, “and I’m hungrier than a wolf; I haven’t had breakfast this morning.” “I hope my dinner won’t disappoint you then,” I said, and I didn’t know why deep inside me I felt I knew it was going to be the case.
I walked faster and faster till I found myself running back home; I hadn’t noticed that I’d walked in the same direction for forty five minutes and now I needed to get back in just a quarter of an hour. There were no tram lines that could help and it was no use putting myself to the mercy of a bus and its mysterious schedule. Therefore I just ran and, to my surprise, I got home with three minutes of advantage over my wife. That gave me time to turn off the oven and display the empanadas as if in a floral arrangement.
When she got back home she went straight to the kitchen. She just took her coat and boots off, but she still wore her scarf and Beanie when she took the first bite from her empanada. “Mmmm,” she only muttered and “mmm” again. But as soon as she finished her first empanada, which was just three minutes after she’d taken it, and that only because the steam coming out of it prevented her from eating it faster, she got up and headed toward the rooms. I grabbed her almost violently by the arm; I couldn’t believe that she’d eat only one empanada and then leave, without showing any sign of wanting more. She stared at me and, as she understood my hurt feelings, she smiled at my naivety. She told me “Please don’t eat them all; I’m just going to check on Johnny”. “Johnny,” I thought, who could be so mean as to give such a name to a son. But one second sufficed me to realize that that was my son’s name; I just hadn’t still gotten used to it. “He’s OK,” I said “Don’t worry; he won’t cry anymore. Just eat another empanada.” And she stared at me and I knew that at that moment she’d become vegetarian.
Chapter Two: Cradle story
One night, when they were sat around the bonfire, the talk was centered around women. For this group of men, accustomed to everyday harshness and months of exile, the absence of female company was something that didn’t demoralize them. However, whenever they had a chance, they’d boast about their feats among women in their villages and they’d philosophize on the character of those paradoxical creatures. Marcio listened to them merrily. He’d had his share of experience too and he related to them in most of what they said. But he liked keeping his intimacy to himself, so when they asked him about his experiences with women, he said he wouldn’t speak about his experiences in particular, but he would give them a picture of what Argentinean women were like in general by telling them a story that may have happened or not, but that accurately described the character of Argentinean women. Thus he started telling them his Cradle Story:
Emi was preparing herself to sleep, although she wasn’t sleepy. At her grandparents’, bedtime was at 10 pm, which was a huge contrast to her bedtime back at home, around midnight. She’d always bring along a book so she could stay up reading until sleep arrived. However, this time she’d forgotten one and the ones in her grandpa’s shelves weren’t interesting to her. Her grandpa was an amiable man and she loved playing chess with him, helping him around in the garden and sitting on his lap listening to his fantastic stories. He was a great storyteller and her imaginary world grew exponentially with every tale she heard from him.
But that day her grandpa had a cold and he’d gone to sleep already, so asking him to tell her a cradle story was out of the question; she’d have to resort to her grandmother. Now, that was by no means a good option because her grandma, although she cooked like a chef and was very generous when it came to presents, was by no means a storyteller. Her grandma would readily read her any book she had brought, but she was unable to create a single storyline or to give birth to imaginary characters in a consistent fashion. Whenever she attempted to tell her a cradle story, she would get lost in the plot and get all the characters jumbled up; her original characters tended to disappear as if swallowed by the earth, as the story progressed, and new characters tended to be created out of thin air, so in the end the story of a princess that wanted to go to the moon ended up being the story of a sailor that proved that the Earth was round. Even for a six year old, these gaps of coherence were so evident and the whole story was so dissonant and illogical that she couldn’t sleep afterwards thinking of what had happened to the pretty princess or what had Columbus to do in the whole business.
But Emi had a generous heart and there was nothing else to do at her grandparents’ because, in old people’s fashion, they didn’t have computers, and the TV was off after 9pm. So she decided to give her grandma another chance so she could redeem her disreputable story telling skills. Therefore when her grandma kissed her goodnight, she said:
“Grandma, could you tell me a cradle story?”
Her grandma looked disoriented as if she’d been asked to put off a fire or assemble a car. However, after fifteen seconds of hesitation, she said:
“Just one story comes to my mind right now, but I don’t think it’s suitable for a child of your age.”
“A child of my age!” said Emi, upset at this blatant lack of respect for her mental maturity. “Grandpa retold me Anna Karenina and I understood it all, so I think there’s nothing I can’t take. I’m an adult,” she affirmed with whole conviction. Her grandma couldn’t find arguments to dissuade her granddaughter so, after mentally cursing her husband, started telling her story:
“Once there was a man”
“What was his name?” asked Emi, worried that her grandma would start mixing it all up again.
“Mmmm, his name,” thought for a while her grandma “his name was Carlos.”
“Like grandpa!” exclaimed Emi enthusiastically, and she laughed inwardly at the thought that her grandma had said that name probably just because it was easy to remember.
“Yes, so Carlos was a young man visiting some old friends back in his hometown. Although he was originally from Junín, he had recently married a pretty girl and they lived together in a small flat downtown Palermo. His friends, a married couple, were thirty years older than him; they had been very good friends with his parents and, after his parents died, they’d become his only link to his hometown. They were very fond of him, so whenever he went to his hometown, he was sure to have a place to sleep at their house.
They had a fifteen-year-old daughter, called Beti, that had almost grown into a woman at that time. Beti was very shy, but her shyness betrayed hidden passion rather than fear of people. She was a tall slim girl, her eyes were the color of honey and no one that saw her would deny that God existed and had modeled her with His own hands. Carlos was an affectionate man and he kissed and hugged his friends, but he couldn’t get close to Beti, so he had to wave her good morning when he arrived at the house, to which she answered with the same gesture. During the morning and afternoon of that day, which was a Saturday, Carlos chatted with his friends to catch up with them, he ate their delicious food and read a book he’d brought with him. Beti was always around, now listening to music, now reading a book, now watching TV. She seemed to be totally indifferent to the fact that there was a guest. “The new generation,” thought Carlos, and he hoped that his own children would behave less autistically. For a moment he thought of his young wife back home and he was sorry they hadn’t had a child yet.
In the evening his friend invited him to drink a bottle of whiskey that he’d reserved for a good occasion. Carlos was a little lightheaded so he got drunk much earlier than his drinking companion. The drinking soiree was over at 2 am because his friend was dozing off in the sofa while they talked. The house was quiet and dark because the ladies had gone to sleep hours ago, so Carlos groped his way into his room. He didn’t want to turn on the lights for fear of it burning his bloodshot eyes. However, he could see the silhouette of his bed thanks to the moonlight entering through the window. Just when he’d laid down fully clothed on his bed, he realized a warm body beside his. He turned his head thunderstruck; it was Beti underneath the covers. For a moment he thought he’d mistaken the room and he felt utterly ashamed, but then he saw his belongings on the table, where he’d left them that same morning. He thought that maybe she didn’t know he’d be sleeping there, so he stood up to leave the room and go sleep in the living room, when he heard her whisper. “Please don’t go.” He remained paralyzed by pure fear for twenty seconds. All his blood had rushed to his temples and he was scared at what he was able to do if he stayed. “I need to go; I can’t stay here,” he said, and he felt a pang of guilt at what he had just said, because it implied he wanted to stay. She had known that he wouldn’t leave the room; she had known it from the moment he laid his eyes on her that morning. She sat on the bed, showing her pale nakedness, and she undressed him delicately but firmly, first his T-shirt, moving to his pants and ending up with his socks. He didn’t stir, as if fending off his guilt by convincing himself that he hadn’t done anything wrong; he was just too drunk and that girl would eventually realize that what she was doing wasn’t appropriate and she would stop. But she didn’t. After undressing him she took her panties off and got into the bed with him. The last thing he remembered was her warm body pressing against his before he lost all control of himself.
The next morning, when he woke up, she wasn’t there anymore. It took him an hour to summon up courage to get up, and another hour to subjugate the fear that overcame him every time he tried to go to the kitchen and stare at his friends’ faces. However, after exchanging good mornings, everything became easier. They treated him in the same way as they had treated him the day before and that convinced him that life would go on in the usual manner, and that the previous night had been just an extraordinary exception. “New day, new life,” he said out loud, and his hosts laughed cheerfully, not understanding the whole meaning of the phrase. For the rest of the day, he didn’t see Bessie anywhere. That fact scared him slightly, but it also relieved him. He had the strange idea that if nothing came to light that day, it would all be buried and forgotten for ever. In the afternoon, as planned, he bade goodbye to his friends and drove his way back home. He couldn’t stop thinking of Beti during the whole journey; he was worried his wife would one day learn what had happened, but no, it wasn’t that what worried him the most. He was scared of himself; he couldn’t recognize himself in the actions of the previous night. “It wasn’t me,” he thought. An idea started to permeate his mind: “Maybe it was all a dream, a very vivid dream. After all, I have a strong imagination and I was very drunk. Definitively that wasn’t me last night; I’d never behave in that way except in dreams.” This idea soothed his conscience and by the time he arrived home, he was just glad to see his wife again.
She was making dinner and she had run out of pepper, which she added to every meal, so she asked him to go to the shop nearby. He was happy to comply with her demands, but he couldn’t seem to find his keys. “Just take mine,” she said and gave him a kiss with her thin lips. Suddenly he remembered a passionate kiss from a red fleshy mouth, and he cursed his mind for playing tricks on him. He descended the stairs and more images came to him, as if the fog that had covered them were gradually clearing. He picked the pepper from a shelf, while two thin but muscular legs entwined themselves to his waist. He payed at the checkout while two thin but strong arms pulled him towards them. He ascended the stairs while waves of long hair cascaded on his face. When he got to the kitchen, he was exhausted. He couldn’t repress his feelings any longer; he must tell her, no matter what; otherwise he’d drive himself crazy. She wasn’t there, so he went to the bedroom. He saw her wearing a different dress, her back towards him. But a second sufficed him to realize that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her hair, her hips or her legs, it was…her.
She turned around and told him “Don’t worry about her. She won’t be between us anymore.”
He didn’t have the strength to ask for details and everything was just a nightmare, so he did what everyone does in a nightmare: he ran away. He searched in the other room; it was empty; then in the bathroom, and there she was, his wife, laying in the bathtub, covered in blood.
“I think I’m pregnant with your child. I can feel it,” the girl said behind his back. Nine months later your mom was born,” said the grandmother concluding the story.
Amy hadn’t blinked during the whole story. “But …your name isn’t Beti,” she said “you’re grandma Helena.” And she stared incredulously at her grandma while she saw her go out of the room. After a few minutes she came back with a piece of old paper. It was like a little notebook, which she handed to her.
“This is my old ID,” she said simply. “After the story I told you about, I had to change my name. Of course no one should know about it; I hope you’ll keep the secret for me.”
“Of course grandma,” said Emi, glad that she was given a secret to keep. “So goodnight, grandma… E-l-e-n, she said,” making it clear that she’d never pronounce her real name, while handing back the piece of evidence.
“Good night darling,” her grandma said and she kissed her cheeks.
“Now that’s a good story!” said Emi to herself while she was being tugged into her bed, and through the whole night she slept like an angel.
Chapter Five: Political commitment
Aurelie’s reaction to Marcio’s horror stories weren’t what he’d expected. She was a woman inclined to politics and her artistic streak wasn’t that much developed. This unveiled a facet of Marcio’s character: his political one. He found himself arguing with her about issues in Europe and the world. The thing that reassured him whenever he disagreed with her on a subject was that she respected the Che Guevara and thought his ideology was good, although his implementation of it had been wrong; similarly to Marx’s ideas. They both agree that Guevara and Marx had been the symptoms of a soulless capitalism, and that they had known how to identify its problems, but hadn’t known how to treat it. With that stronghold secured, he could argue with her about anything, even the nonexistence of God, totally undeterred by the outcome.
It was a moment of political unrest in Eastern Europe, and Marcio was living in Europe at the moment. Everything he heard in the news sounded biased against Russia to him and pro American. But fortunately there was democracy in the mass means of communication, and this democracy was called internet. There he found some insightful ideas, some of them pragmatical and others more idealistic ones. He liked particularly an article that was written in an amateurish way, probably by some passionate idealist, but which stroke him as a very honest peace of writing. The article was called:
On the U.S. plan to militarize Eastern Europe
“for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” – Matthew 26:52
Please Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, don’t bring the temperamental watchdog to your property. The United States are a snapish Rottweiler that may give you a feeling of safety, but only if by safety you understand bombing your house every time a burglar breaks in. I may actually be insulting Rottweilers by comparing them with the U.S.; after all, Rottweilers are at least loyal. But the point is: Do you really want to deter violence by bringing violence to your bosom? And if you don’t believe the American foreign policy is violent, where have you been in the past years? Have you forgotten the cold war? Have you forgotten Vietnam? Are you aware that the States are still at war against communism and in a quest for global domination? Do you believe the States are doing you a favor or that they’re just using your dear territory as a potential battleground? But, most importantly, do you believe Americans are the good guys?
I understand your apprehension towards the militarized Russians and I’d like to live without fear of invasion too, if I were from a country so near the unpredictable Putin’s Russia, but haven’t we already seen how the U.S. deals with conflicts? Do you want to exchange the fear of invasion for the certainty of an escalation of tension that will end up in a war in your territory?
Just to give you some key information before you make your decision, in 1997 NATO and therefore the States had actually promised Russia not to bring “additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces” near the Russian border, a promise that the U.S. is blatantly obviating, as it does with moral and ethical issues in general. An unethical peace is just a justification for rebellion. In the management of a society, like for instance the global society, there are always conflicts of interests; if we don’t allow for them and we believe that consensus can be imposed by force, we’ll just make place for legitimate violent rebellion, as it’s the case of terrorism right now. We all agree terrorism is horrific and inhuman, but we all know they have good reasons to react as they do: despair being something you can’t argue against.
I’m not against the police; we all have a determent system we implement on ourselves, our actions and speech. But we try to sharpen our moral sensitiveness in order to act the best we can in a given situation. What I mean by this is: do we really want the States to be the moral standard of the world? Or do we believe that the police can be amoral and they can be used just in case of emergency? If we believe the latter, we’re wrong. The police is extremely moral; actually it places more importance on its moral values than on its subjective esthetic and ethical views in any given situation. That means that the police acts according to set rules; it does not create its own moral. If we know this, and we know also the kind of moral principles the States foreign policy is currently acting upon, aren’t we just wishing for the worst by putting them in charge of global peace?
The States are childish in their approach to conflicts. They play the game of provocation: “I’m not attacking you, I’m just cocking my gun and standing in front of you, watching your every move to detect a false step and shoot first, because that’s always been my philosophy; just look at Hiroshima if you don’t believe my potential for mindless reactions.”
A job interview with the States would sound like this:
-Mr. United States, do you feel qualified for the job of police of the world?
-Well, you couldn’t find anyone more suitable for this position, if I’m allowed to say so, because, for instance, I dropped two nuclear bombs on civilian targets before realizing they weren’t efficient in the long term, I mean only if we want life on Earth to survive a little longer than a couple of months of a nuclear war. So now I’m banning the production of nuclear weaponry in other countries and enforcing this law by shelling the hell out of them, of course, how else could I be respected after I’ve hit first? So that accounts for Iraq and it may justify North Korea in a near future. You know, my problem is that capitalism is my religion and, in that sense, I’m worse than Spain of the Inquisition, if you know what I mean. But all in all, I think I qualify for this job. Who else would shoot a kid down today and come to work without any remorse tomorrow?”
Are we sure we want to give Russia a reason to despise Europe? Do we want to allow the States to bully other countries and to militarize every corner of the world? Do we believe guns are the best deterrent against violence? Do we want the world to improve or do we want to give way to fear and allow it to get rooted in our global society? Why are we still demonizing Russia? Hasn’t savage capitalism taken more lives than the Russian invasions? Isn’t a quiet Machiavellian system of global exploitation more destabilizing than Putin’s open demonstrations of force? Is our visual society so desensitized that we don’t see the roots of violence? Or do we really believe that an army can be more harmful than hedge fund managers without scruples, heartless corporations and belligerent politicians? I know there’s no easy answer to this complex question, but I’m sure of one thing: I would never entrust the States with the protection of my children.
Aurelie had a strong anti-American feeling too, which soothed Marcio’s scorched heart. She laughed at the article, which she found interesting, but not very accurate. She had her own ideas on the subject already formed and she was Leo by birth, so she wasn’t prone to budge from her convictions. A heated argument ensued between the contestants and, in the end, Marcio conceded the match, although, he thought inside himself, the game is never over. He just didn’t care to be right or wrong anymore; he just cared about drawing smiles and expressions of surprise from that dear face in front of him. He could’ve written the most trivial love song at that moment, and its lyrics would include the trite verses:
May the world lie in ruins and the stupidity of men solve itself out,
may people ever hate what they don’t know, but
may a beam of sun caress your face, my love
so your smile will never wane.
Chapter Six: The published author
When Aurelie heard one of Marcio’s spooky stories, she recommended him to publish them. She had some contacts in the editorial world and with his fame, his stories were sure to become popular. Everyone wanted to know about the deepest fears of such a brave man like him. Marcio was flattered, but told Aurelie that she’d change her mind about his bravery once she read his stories. Those were very intimate stories for him, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to share them with the whole world. Back then, in the heat of the revolution, they needed some distraction and the stories he told provided it. No one analyzed what he said; they just liked it or not. But in a world in peace, the written word takes more relevance and people may start an argument and even fall out because of an unfortunate phrase or a badly articulated idea. He didn’t want to be exposed to that kind of psychological butchery in which people conjecture about the reasons behind his writing.
She told him that she believed people would appreciate his writing and they would not over-analyze it. They admired him already, so everything he did was going to be tainted with his fame; all those ambiguous things he wrote or the dark passages of his stories would be seen under the best light possible and they would read only high feelings in them, because they knew the man who’d written them couldn’t be pusillanimous; so she implored him to have his works published. He bowed to her petition, not because he agreed on his bravery, but because he knew that, in this new phase of his life, the kind of courage he needed was totally different from the kind he’d needed in the Congo. There were no external revolutions to stir anymore, so the most fearsome battle was going to take place: the internal one. He needed to define himself and take an ethic and aesthetic stand on life now that he wasn’t busy anymore. He needed to decide whether he upheld tradition or liberalism when it came to love matters. He was falling for the sensual blondness in front of him; it was an animalistic magnetic feeling, but it had repercussions on his mind and spirit. He wanted to be fair with her and with himself; he wanted real love and he wanted to love her as well as possible. But what was love other than doing good to others? He didn’t have another definition of this overused concept. For him, love was time and dedication; love was trying in earnest to make someone happy. But how could he love her? What did she need to be happy? Did she need him? And what if she didn’t actually need him? That was the key question: was he indispensable to her? And how could he become indispensable to her? And, most importantly: was it fair from him to try it? Was he going to be able to provide for her happiness once her life was so entangled with his that a separation would be destructive for her? All of this questions were then summarized in one: Am I able to make her happy? Then his resolve kicked in.
-I’ll send you a new story tomorrow or the day after,- he said- but it won’t be a horror story; it’ll be lighter.
-Well, I’m glad to hear. -she said- Take your time please; there’s no hurry. I’ll send them to seldom editors as soon as your stories are ready.
Thus Marcio decided to start by gaining her admiration and letting himself be trimmed by her love. His was the flame of life, but hers was the lamp that was able to contain it. He wanted to be tamed by her and to become more civilized, more worldly and more sensitive to the needs of others. He drew nearer to her like the first wolf must have drawn nearer a bonfire, with fear but excitement. He caressed her back and then grabbed her by the waist. He pulled her towards him and trapped her cheek against his, hiding his mouth in his hair as if it were a beast of pray in the grasses of the Savannah. Then he slipped his mouth towards hers, like a stalking tiger, and pounced on her lips with a clutch that promised not to let go of them until she surrendered. And so she did. And they parted.
Now Marcio had both the inspiration and the reason to write a short story. He thought for a moment that, were everyone in the world be asked to write a story, many would do it. He thought it was natural in people to want to share their thoughts and writing them was one of the easiest ways. He felt privileged for having the possibility to have his writings read by people and to be paid for them. It was a pleasure for him to write, so he wanted to write good to pay back some of the pleasure to his readers.
Part three: The war on capitalism
It was high time to do something. The liberation activists that had been sent to enlist people into the revolutionist movement had come back with documents full of names and data. These were people who agreed to take part of every form of revolution and who actually needed to be explained there wasn’t any current need of them to form a military force, but they were only asked to spread the news that a revolution was taking place. However, the activists expressed their sincere concern that if a revolution didn’t start soon, these people would grow weary and would join armed forced. Marcio saw the problem and called everyone into an assembly. He’d finally set the aims and procedure of the revolution. Once everyone was quietly expecting to hear the words that would come out of his mouth, he addressed them:
“What’s the aim of every war?” he asked. Many answered, but he rejected all the answers until someone said: “Defeat”.
“Yes” he said. “A side wants to show the other side its superiority. This may be achieved by means of battles, in which a side shows its military superiority, but the disadvantage of this tactic is that some battles may be lost and the final score is not quite clear. What’s then the ultimate factor that defines a war?” This time no one answered. “It’s morale. The victors are those who managed to kept their morale high enough to go on fighting. The defeated give up in the end, even if they’ve won most of the battles. In our war there’ll be only one battle: the moral one. Once we’ve won that battle, there won’t be any need of further actions.”
Everyone was confused by Marcio’s words. Although they’d always been told that the revolution would be pacific, they still hoped for some form of military action. If not with the aim of killing the enemy, at least with the aim of establishing authority for the movement. They were dissapointed by Marcio’s words; they’d been recruiting people vehemently and they saw all their efforts betrayed by a lukewarm leader that didn’t understand the urgency of the situation. Because everything was urgent in the Congo; nothing was done as a precautionary measure. People reacted whenever they saw a chance and they were a very brave nation that didn’t fear death. They currently possessed the human capital to start an armed rebellion that would be difficult to quench and they were sorry they were going to miss on this chance. Marcio understood them well and gave them some minutes to assimilate his plan. He killed time by drinking some water and talking to one of the activists about trivial matters; although everyone thought he was actually discussing the issue in question. At last he addressed them again:
“What’s capital?” he asked. Everyone was taken aback by this sudden change of topic. They had bargained for a socio-political rebellion and now they were receiving a lecture in economy.
“Money” was the first answer, which came out of mere frustration.
“Not quite” he said. “Money is just a form of transaction; a way in which goods are exchanged and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just more convenient to bring money in your pocket than the products you’ve created and it’s much better that your employer or client pays you with money than with products. But capital is different; it’s wealth that’s used to create more wealth. Capital is actually the opposite of money, because money is current while capital is hoarded so as to have an advantage in any negotiation. Capitalism plays the scarcity game. The idea is to monopolyze the market by buying all the natural resources and the basic services, then to raise the price of these basic things so people are forced to work full-time. Because one of the most recent creations of capitalism is full-time jobs. People can posses the basic things they need to live for a fraction of the effort they needed two hundred years ago, but capitalism finds a way to keep people fully employed. Here’s where money comes in. Until now it was a simple means of transaction, but now, thanks to capitalism, it has also become a valuable. And because the law of offer and demand dictates that something that’s scarce has a greater value, hoarding money makes the value of money increase. For this purpose, capitalism has created the perfect institution: the bank, whose main function is to hoard money. Now, money must be current; it must give the impression of flowing constantly; otherwise it loses legitimacy. That is was why more money is constantly created by the banks, either by a deal with the government of by means of interests. Now interests are the key to the capitalits system; without them capitalism would cease to exist. Interests are an illusory way of creating money, because it assumes that money can produce more money. Of course, when more money is created, the whole value of money is reduced and inflation takes place: goods cost more or money is less valuable. But as money is created by the institutions that monopolize money, they only reap the benefits and they don’t lose in the exchange; on the contrary, it’s the easiest way to buy new things and keep the illusion of money as currency. But inflation affects everyone possessing money, because everyone loses purchasing power; therefore everyone with a fix salary is harmed and they need to resource to strikes or manifestations to demand for a general raise in salaries. But meanwhile they’re robbed of their money because they’re earning relatively less than before. All this money goes to the banks; it’s the banks’ taxation on society. That’s how we inadvertently support the institution that’s subjugating us economically.
The good news is that every country creates their own financial system and their own currency, so no one is obliged to accept the global rules of capitalism. The second good news is that The Congo is the poorest country in the world, if we consider human development, so we can allow ourselves to start anew economically; we don’t have many foreign interests to lose. What I propose as the start of our revolution is a cold war against the Congolese banking system. Let’s spread the news, banks must go down for the Congo to raise! We’ll create national banks that will be to the service of their nation.”
“How can we do that?” someone asked.
“In a democratic country like ours, there’s no great inconvenience. We’ll stop using the current capitalist currency and create a new one.”
“And how can that make any difference?” another person asked. “Won’t this currency become in turn a new capitalist tool of oppression?”
“No,” Marcio said. “Because our currency will be backed by gold. We’ll abolish fiat money in our country.” Everyone was dumbfounded. Talking of gold to these people was like talking of champagne to a thirsty person. It was just incongruous with their actual needs. A whisper started spreading among them, but Marcio didn’t alter his countenance; he stared at them with the iciness of a sculptor that contemplates what to do with the piece of wood in front of him. When the whisper grew louder he raised his voice and said:
“We already possess enough gold to feed our people for a decade, and that’s all we need. If we establish a fair economic system where the currency actually flows, we don’t need to worry about the global market or other nonsense of globalization. If we want to start dealing with foreign countries again, we need to have the upper-hand. Now, we won’t accept dollars as payment for exports but only our currency, which they can buy at the moment of the transaction. All the dollars that are thus acquired will be used to buy more gold that will enrich our state and make our currency still stronger. Of course the state will provide with a financial system that will allow for the acquisition of houses and other necessary goods at no interest rate. We will restrain imports until the economy is stable and we’ll never enter the global market again without the supervision of the state. Exports will therefore also suffer, but we already don’t count on them for the sustenance of our people. We count only on ourselves. The only way to have a healthy relation with foreign countries is through self-sufficiency. Now we don’t have the political power to make this changes, but we possess the power of the masses. This is an ideological revolution and it will be spread by word of mouth, by pamphlets and any other possible means. We’ll seek the authorization of the government, but we won’t depend on it. This revolution is pacific, but we’ll stand up against repression.”
Everyone saw the picture by now, although not everyone was happy with the exchange of a simple armed revolution with a convoluted economic boycott. However, they expected that as soon as the government got wind of the subversive ends of the movement, it would try to dismantle it by force. However, they weren’t counting on the fact that Marcio’s first action when he’d created the movement was to reach out to the official power of the country and establishing means of communication with them. He constantly reassured them of the innocuousness of the movement and he was extremely careful to allow for a possible assault on him or some paramilitary means of persuasion against the continuance of the movement. However, he knew the government had greater threats and they didn’t have the power to start an immediate military process of eradication of a movement whose leader was hidden somewhere in the Congo.
The place where the revolution found greatest resistance was obviously Kinshasa. This city had been the focus of expansion of capitalism and the gate through which the Congo’s wealth flew abroad. There were many foreign interests in this city and they started making phone calls to their respective political muscles. But they couldn’t do more than put pressure on the president to uproot the budding threat to the economic stability of the country. People were massively buying gold and, when the price of gold in the country rose, they started exchanging their Congolese Francs for the liberationist currency: The Congolese Dawn. The liberationist movement took charge of exchanging the Congolese Francs for dollars and of buying gold abroad. The government was making so much money on taxation that they turned a blind eye on it. They didn’t see it coming because the violence of the revolution was so great that it took only a month to deplete the streets of Congolese Francs. Sellers started to accept Congolese Dawns, although at half the value of Congolese Francs. However, this didn’t discourage people, who were proud of building a new country and saw the new currency as their dearest child. When the government realized the situation, it started printing new money, which actually devalued the price of the Franc, which in a month was equal to the Dawn. The government then declared the Dawn illegal and burnt all the bills that entered into its possession, but they didn’t dare to arrest their users because the currency had become widespread. The people took precautions to prevent this measure from upsetting the movement: as every bill was numerated, every merchant that accepted the bills needed only to write down or take a picture of its serial number and they were promised to receive one hundred percent of the value of the bill they lost in gold at the moment of its loss. The merchants were glad to exchange a fluctuating currency for gold so they followed the plan. The government wasn’t smart enough to put the illegal money they’d confiscated back into circulation, that is, to rob money from the people, but they didn’t do it because that would’ve been counterproductive to their aim: to wipe out the new currency from the Congolese streets. Instead, they hoarded the confiscated money, which provoked a great appreciation of the Dawn. The government was now rich, provided they put the money back into circulation, but that would do away with the gold standard designed by Marcio. Marcio and the government reached an agreement: the government would legalize the Dawn, whose minting was going to be controlled only by the liberationist movement. The movement promised not to print bills to devalue the currency, but the government must use the money confiscated for the public good. The government then declared how many Dawns it possessed, information which roughly backed by the data base of declared confiscated bills. A development plan was also demanded from the government, and all the money was already allocated to the different projects that were going to take place in the following two years. The money was therefore sent to the Liberationist Bank to safeguard it. Then the Liberationist Bank and the government agreed on taking a measure to assure the stability of the currency. Evidently, with the inflow of all the confiscated bills, the Dawn would be devalued, and that would result in a loss to the government too, because all these projects wouldn’t come to fruition. So the Bank, before anything else, bought gold with the appreciated Dawns it possessed, until it replaced all the gold lost during the confiscation. This move appreciated even more the value of the currency, once the Bank declared how much gold it had in its vaults. During the following two years of public works, the Dawn lost a little of its value until it was stabilized again.
With the financial problem solved, The Congo was able to take the reins of its own economy, to better manage its natural resources and even to expropriate companies that were bleeding the country. Its political muscle grew and, as it had enough wealth, it wasn’t concerned with foreign investment or international credit. The Congo set a precedent: distrust in fiat money, so it just didn’t take any credit. The Liberationist Bank grew in financial power until it could finance the welfare of all its citizens. Later on it financed the welfare of neighbor countries. The influence of the IMF on the world decreased, specially since the People’s Bank of China followed suit and started lending money for welfare at an almost non-interest rate. Other banks adopted this new trend until the IMF, the most resilient of all banks, ended up lowering its interest to continue having some dignified status in the global market.
Chapter Three: The Congolese War
Marcio was by no means a good military leader, but he was the soul of the movement that now was being persecuted by the government’s armed forces. The Congolese movement had earned the enmity of Wall Street, which considered it a form of neo-communism. Therefore it didn’t take long for unofficial capital to arrive from The U.S to The Congo in order to crack down on economic subversion. With this new injection of American cash, the Congolese president became an adamant opponent of the revolution and he declared war on it. Marcio didn’t have the required skills to win any military battle, but he knew that wars were won morally rather than physically. He divided the revolutionary forces into numerous guerrilla groups and risked his life crossing the Congolese borders. He went to Europe, where he talked to the media and, eventually, with members of the European Union. He knew that righteousness was on his side, so now the most difficult task was to make Europeans interested in something else than themselves. He knew The Congo wouldn’t hit the news until thousands of people were killed in the repression planned by the Congolese government, so he needed to try to depict the image on people’s minds by means of his words. He told them the story about his escape from The Congo. Had he been caught alive, he would’ve surely been made disappear, as well as all his group, because there were no witnesses to his location. They had been lucky. On their way, they’ve encountered two patrols, one of which saw them and killed five members of their group. Marcio himself had killed a man, and he dwelt on it as a philosopher would dwell on any crisis in his life, and when people listened to such an intelligent man talk about the inevitability of his murderous actions, they feared for their own future. His detailed description of the situation in the Congo and the aims of his revolution was easy to grasp and adhere to. Many people felt like him in Europe and he knew it; he put all his hopes in the European democratic power because he knew it had already achieved some selfless aims. After a month of campaign and some hundreds in casualties back in the Congo, the European Union agreed to a deployment of military forces throughout the Congo to allow for the Congolese revolution to take place peacefully. The Congolese president withdrew his forces from the streets and, specially, from the forest, and the American tycoons withdrew their money. The current president was changed in the next elections, and the new president was more sensitive to the needs of the people and the social importance of the revolution that had taken place.
Chapter Four: The sin of being rich
Aurelie wasn’t the only person who admired Marcio, although she was one of the few people who knew him intimately. Since the revolution had taken place, Marcio had become a political figure and he’d invited to give speeches everywhere: on TV, at political assemblies or simply at home, where his words would be transcribed and then published on paper. He was careful where he went, and he particularly liked giving speeches at Universities and other gatherings that have a tinge of educational on them and weren’t biased by political beliefs. One of his most popular speeches was the one he gave at Harvard University, in the core of capitalism. The Che Guevara and the Pope had previously ranted against wild capitalism and now, with a third anti-capitalist Argentinean figure, the world labeled Argentina as: nest of communists, in a jesting or aggressive way. But Marcio wasn’t giving a speech for those who believed he was a communist; he was talking to those who, as him, saw many flaws in the capitalistic system. That’s why he addressed these American students as people capable of seeing and understanding the evils of the system they were part of:
-I’m thankful for this invitation to share some of my observations on this economic system we have. My speech today will verge on religious because I think that the only way to change such a strong default system is by faith in something better. Now when we talk of capitalism we talk of the belief on the materialism of the world, we talk of people who believe that everything can be bought. That’s capitalism. If you just work to get enough money to afford you a house to live in, food for your family and the possibility to learn and develop intellectually and spiritually, then you’re not a capitalist but a simple human being. The problem with capitalism is that it just takes a few assholes to ruin the wonderful system we have: liberalism. Because these greedy pigs don’t believe in anything and they try to break other people so as to feel better about themselves. If we take a look at the reasons why most people commit crimes or deliberately harm other people, it’s because they lack the essential means of subsistence. Despair is what pushes so many people into crime and violence. And this unnatural situation is created by the few faithless bastards that populate this world. These people really believe that the only way of improving the precarious situation of most of the people in the world is by promoting the pursue of selfish interests. These are the people who think that the most important things are material and that the rest can be acquired at any time. These people don’t put any value on solidarity. Now this is the evil of our liberal society and we need to get rid of it if we want it to thrive. The expropriation of private wealth would make no sense without an economic policy, because new rich people would emerge. A new economic framework needs to be implemented.
To start with, we need to revise our concept of exploitation and wealth production. Natural resources should belong to everyone and their exploitation should enrich every single citizen in a given country. Some international organizations already intervene to guarantee the sustainability of the world, and this is positive, but every country needs to guarantee its own ecological sustainability; otherwise we’re creating third world countries again: countries that are left relatively unexploited, and which provide with food and oxygen to the others, who thus continue exploiting them. Globalization is natural, whether we like or not. The fumes exhaled by American factories provoke tsunamis in Japan and floods in South America; therefore a global policy is needed. Being rich in this globalized world is a sin, because the wealth we amass and hoard is food that we’re taking out from someones mouth. We can’t deny globalization and we can’t close our eyes to the fact that there are strong links between the endemic poverty of underdeveloped countries and the supremacy of developed ones.
Chapter five: Marcio’s diary
Marcio lived happily with Aurelie, till he died twenty-five years later from a heart attack. Of course “happiness” is a subjective construct, but if by it we mean satisfaction with life and continual activity and development, then yes, Marcio was happy. When Aurelie woke up one morning and found him, at the young age of fifty-three, placidly sleeping a sleep from which he’d never wake up again, she cried from loneliness but also from happiness. She was happy she’d met him and made him happy throughout his whole life. She felt accomplished more than ever before. They’d had one son, who by now was already finishing university and was almost ready for complete self-reliance.
Aurelie opened Marcio’s drawers for the first time in her life. From the moment when they’d moved into that house, there had been a desk, which Marcio had claimed for himself and whose drawers were opened only by him. There she found a diary from the time when Marcio lived in the Congo. There were some miscellaneous phrases; nothing worthy of being called “writing” or “ideas”. They were simply “thoughts” from a mind probably derailed by the extremeness of the situation it was going through. The notes didn’t follow any pattern or order; they were written sidewards or upwards; probably depending on how Mario had felt like grabbing the notepad every time. She read them meticulously, but also uninterested. She already knew everything there was to know about Marcio and it was a closed case. She’d loved him and now she couldn’t love him anymore, which anguished her because she needed to find a new outlet for this urge in her. She read through the notes, rather thinking of how to employ all this excess of care and time which was left by Marcio’s death. She was buying time by reading his diary, but she knew it wouldn’t last long. Besides, reading can’t really be considered an act of love but of selfishness. However, she went along with the task in hand; the current page in front of her read:
Don’t idealize attraction. We fall in love with someone’s looks, and there’s no other way. The dichotomy: body and spirit to which many people adhere is false. Our bodies are the reflection of our spirits. Beauty is there to be admired, in man and women; there’s nothing wrong in that. But we differ in our aesthetic tastes and that accounts for our not desiring the same type of people.
Titillating TV shows and movies, arousing selfish dreams and exacerbating the spiritual isolation of materialism -For once I wanted to make this about something else than romance. I wanted this not to be another romantic exposition.
She closed the diary; her mind was made up. She’d dedicate more time to her garden, start the book she always wanted to write and, most importantly, call her friend Joanna who was going through difficult times. One step at a time; that was her plan for today. Tomorrow, back to work where she could while away hours without being beset by existential issues. Hopefully she’d work till she died, as her husband had done. “Lucky him!” she thought, to have died before being forced to retire. And how could he retire anyway, if he was a writer. And he’d never run out of inspiration because he’d always had her, his main companion and solace. “Lucky bastard! I hate him! I hate him!” and finally she broke into sobs.