Literatura en México

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Cinco Décadas de Cuento Mexicano. Antología. Perea, Pitman, Taylor, Tedeschi, Valenzuela

The Obese Lover (English version)

Humberto Guzmán
Foto: cnipl. INBA

Humberto Guzmán

Beyond the knife blades of the palm branches, the sunlight reverberated off the blinking surface of the sea. The tranquility of the line between the blue of the sky and the blue of the sea contrasted with the incessant arrival of the waves on the beach. With their crash had arrived, shortly before, from the other side of the sloping garden, the happy sound of Jutta's laugh.

He felt abandoned. As alone as each one of the stains of shadow that appeared and disappeared amidst the blinding luminosity of the sea. Upon this reflection, the tepid caress of the wind reminded him of the placidity of his life; the contradiction of his thoughts surprised him.

He reached out his arm until his hand touched a coffee table attached to the wall. He grazed its wooden surface like a restless animal. There was a notebook with a pencil stuck in its plastic spiral. He pulled the pencil out and opened the notebook to a blank page. Breathing heavily, his pulse irregular, he wrote out the letters of a word he would never read, because, before doing so, he crossed it out.

He contemplated the corpse of the word he had written and his loud breathing heralded the movement of his body, which resembled that of a large reptile as he settled back in the hammock that bore his weight. With his movement the notebook fell to the floor; his gaze diverted then to his large, soft stomach and its pallid skin; next he wanted to see his legs and he raised his head sideways --he was lying on his side-- and compared the disproportionate volume of his stomach in relation to his legs, which could almost be considered thin and which were covered with fly bites, swollen in some places, making him appear even more ridiculous.

He knew that with a body like his, no young woman, least of all a beautiful one, could love him with sincerity. He disgusted himself. He turned, puffing, in the hammock, which tensed. He tried to reach the notebook: his hand --slim, like his legs-- fell upon it in one grab, and he nearly fell out entirely. Breathing heavily, he undertook to recover his balance in the hammock, which was not easy. When, still panting, he had finally regained control of the situation, he looked at the light blue sky, whitening in the east with a shoot of inflated clouds.

The crash of waves brought her laughter to his ears once more; it was unmistakable. Over the dead word he wrote the name of the woman who laughed on the beach.

His thoughts faded at the sound of Jutta’s laugh; its echoe was lost in the foliage of the sloping garden, which prevented his seeing the beach from where he was. He sat halfway up in the hammock, swung on leg out, and tried to do the same with the other. He lacked coordination; the foot that was already out of the hammock could not support him, and he could not keep from falling out flat on his face.

Jutta, he spit furiously.

He dragged himself across the hot floor, slippery in his own sweat, a beated animal. He grabbed hold of the leaf of the terrace door and stood up. He was not old enough to be so disabled, he thought. It was his obesity that kept him in this condition. But he was determined to descend the stairs that would bring him near to Jutta.

He went into his room and headed for the dresser, where an opened bottle of imported whiskey awaited him; he removed the cap and poured himself half a glass of the amber liquid, bringing it greedily to his mouth. He downed the glass in one gulp, as if it had been a soft drink. Without wiping away the transparent stream that trickled from a corner of his mouth, he poured himself another whiskey --this time less than half a glass-- and drank it in two sips.

Having calmed himself somewhat he left the room and made for the stairway that led to the beach. He descended the first few stairs; from below he looked like a white seal bouncing at each step.

He knew he had reached the sand because his feet were sinking; soon it would be hotter and softer, tripping him at every step.

In the distance, through the blinding rays of the sun, made out the slim, golden figure of Jutta alongside that of a dark, deeply tanned man, young looking. They walked side by side, perhaps holding hands, at the edge of the beach. He called to her loudly, but the crash of the waves in the distance must have drowned out his call. At that hour of the afternoon the beach was deserted and no corner escaped the burning sun. To one side lay the green of the grove, and to the other the never-ending collapse of the waves. Jutta and her dark-haired companion climbed onto a pile of rocks and soon disappeared behind it.

The obese lover tried to advance more quickly, but the shifting sand beneath his feet made him fall to one side just as an enormous wave broke a few feet in; the crash assaulted his hearing and the mantle of hot water and foam that spread over the smooth, dark sand tugged at his bulk. The mantle of water pulled back in silence, he rose torpidly, streaming water which failed to wash off the sweat flowing from every part of his fatty body. His paces continued to sink as they followed in the footsteps of no one.

His labored breathing forced him to open his mouth and nostrils for more oxygen, until he arrived at the pile of black, sharp, porous rocks where moments before his golden love had disappeared with her dark companion.

He should not have tried to cross the rocks, but his anxiety did not permit him to think about it. He tripped on the first two steps, then slipped and fell to his knees. The sharp edges of the stones tore at his skin. In spite of the pain he continued and, when he had scarcely begun to walk again, fell once more with all his weight between a pile of rocks. There he remained trapped like an insect, his head stuck in an opening in the sandy wet rock. His twisted neck hurt him, his chin was preseed to his chest, he saw his enormous stomach inflate and deflate and below it, his chubby legs, slim given the volume of the rest of his body --he tried to pull himself together-- he thought of Jutta, he remembered her in bed between the sheets, he desired her --but it was useless, and the roar of the sea sounded too close, besides.

The crash of a wave that broke very near to where he lay deafened him; the sunlight blinded and burned him; the mantle of water with its foamy lace dashed against the jagged rocks that surrounded him, and for a few moments he was covered with water. The sea salt dried his mouth like vinegar.

When the water pulled back the felled lover discovered the horrible presence of a grayish crab at the side of his head. Its nearness made it a giant monster as it moved its antennae and legs, brandishing its powerful pincers menacingly. The sun’s rays fell like daggers on his body, stabbing his skin and eyes. Another wave crashed not far from his head; from that moment he would be covered over and over again by the sea, between those rocks, a prisoner in his own body.*

Translated by Sheila McIntosh

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De cuerpo entero (autobiography. Google Books)

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Fuente: * From the book Seductora melancolía. México, SEP/Plaza y Valdés, 1988. El Nigromante.



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