The Eclipse (English version)
When Brother Bartolomé Arrazola felt that he was lost, he accepted the fact that now nothing could save him. The powerful jungle of Guatemala, implacable and final, had overwhelmed him. In the face of his topographical ignorance he sat down calmly to wait for death. He wanted to die there, without hope, alone, his thoughts fixed on distant Spain, particularly on the Convent of Los Abrojos, where Charles V had once condescended to come down from his eminence to tell him that he trusted in the religious zeal of his work of redemption.
When he awoke he found himself surrounded by a group of Indians with impassive faces who were preparing to sacrifice him before an altar, an altar that seemed to Bartolomé the bed on which he would finally rest from his fears, from his destiny, from himself.
Three years in the country had given him a passing knowledge of native languages. He tried something. He spoke a few words that were understood.
Then there blossomed in him an idea which he considered worthy of his talent and his broad education and his profound knowledge of Aristotle. He remembered that a total eclipse of the sun was to take place that day. And de decided, in the deepest part of his being, to use that knowledge to deceive his oppressors and save his life.
¿If you kill me,¿ he said, ¿I can make the sun darken on high.¿
The Indians stared at him and Bartolomé caught the disbelief in their eyes. He saw them consult with one another and he waited confidently, not without a certain contempt.
Two hours later the heart of Brother Bartolomé Arrazola spurted out its passionate blood on the sacrificing stone (brilliant in the opaque light of the eclipsed sun) while one of the Indians recited tonelessly, slowly, one by one, the infinite list of dates when solar and lunar eclipses would take place, which the astronomers of the Mayan community had predicted and registered in their codices without the estimable help of Aristotle.*
Translated by Edith Grossman
* * *
BOOKS BY AUGUSTO MONTERROSO (CNL-INBA)
"La mosca que soñaba que era un águila" (at the subway) (YouTube)
* * *
|Fuente: * From the book Obras completas (y otros cuentos). México, Seix Barral, 1981. Biblioteca Breve.|