Literatura en México

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

The Mothers (English version)


Fabio Morábito
Foto: cnipl. INBA

Fabio Morábito

It would begin in the first days of June, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Whatever the exact date, it was really unpleasant to find yourself playing in a friend¿s house and suddenly, just when he had gone to the toilet or to the kitchen for a glass of water, his mother would emerge from the bedroom next door, stark naked and hot for it. You had to take her on with no help at all, because she would almost always shut herself up in the room with you and bolt the door. We¿d been taught to thump the mothers on the chest, the head, or the belly, but some of them were really strong; others were as supple as deer, others still so fat that all they had to do was squash us until we gave in and did whatever they desired.

To be in a mother¿s power meant staying in her clutches for the whole of the month of June. After sundown you had to be on the lookout for the ones who were perched up in the trees. They usually lay naked, their breasts gorged, along one of the branches, while the kids had a fine time shooting at them with their catapults. If any of the mothers looked as though she was about to climb down from her tree, everyone withdrew to the pavement opposite to watch her descend, covered in cuts and bruises from constant rubbing against the tree bark.

The mothers spent most of their time up in the trees that lined the city streets, moaning with desire, shaking the branches.

At dusk, most of them climbed down and curled up for the night in doorways. Their children used this respite to tend their wounds, take them food, cover them with blankets. Many mothers woke up later in the night and began to wander around aimlessly, or rather with the only aim that kept them alive: to be possessed, shaken to the core, clawed at. They became more and more truculent and cunning, running stealthily, setting ambushes.

With the first light of day, the panting of mothers as they overpowered their prey could be heard from pieces of waste ground and building sites all over the city. 

You could approach without fear because a mother who already had her victim was not dangerous. Caught in the pincer of her massive thighs, he (an office worker or a factory worker) wriggled like a worm in a bird¿s beak. The mother could have her way with him for the whole of June.

Mothers who had still not caught their prey lay in wait in the trees, wet and dripping. They had slippery, flabby bellies; whenever one of them fell out of a tree all you could hear was a faint ¿plop¿, then you¿d see them swing back up into the branches without so much as a scratch on them. Sometimes they let themselves fall on purpose, to calm their fever, and they¿d lie there soft and steaming, like flotsam left by the retreating tide. 

This state of complete abandon inflamed the men, who trembled at the mere sight of them. 

To mate with a mother in this state was to plumb the depths of vulgar depravity. The mother could tell at a glance all those who had fallen into this trap in previous years. They knew how to deal with them! They ordered them to crawl to their feet; pitifully, the men obeyed, in full view of everyone, powerless to control themselves. A jab with the heel to the back of the head or on the neck was the only reward these unfortunates received.

The mothers also clambered up the railings, balconies, the beams of unfinished buildings. Council workers put out big cauldrons of water and food for them. The mothers swarmed down, starving, pushing and scratching at each other to get the best positions. At once all the kids in the windows of the nearby flats got out their catapults and bombarded them with pebbles or tiny pieces of glass, wounding them pitilessly despite their howls of rage.

At the end of June, the mothers slowly began to calm down, to dry out. Gradually, one after another, they allowed themselves to be dragged back to their homes. The whole city took on an air of religious reclusion. Indoors, children and husbands washed them lovingly, cleansed their wounds and watched over them as they slept (a sleep which sometimes lasted for as long as four or five days). Everyone walked respectfully on tiptoe so as not to wake them; all the rooms were kept dark to protect their sleep: even the family pets were on their best behavior. Work in offices and factories was at a strict minimum in order to ensure the mothers got the best possible care. Hardly anyone went out except to buy provisions or medicine.

When the mothers woke up, recovered from their wounds, the penetrating stench of their frenzy had cleared from the city. You could see them at household chores on their balconies, some in housecoats, others dressed to go out and do the shopping. There they were, shaking out the sheets, watering the plants or shouting advice to their children as they scurried off to school. Factory chimneys belched out smoke at full tilt once more, trams screeched around the curves, people argued and fought at the slightest excuse. In the streets, even stray dogs went about their business with renewed gusto. The usual hubbub filled the morning air; nobody seemed to remember the chaos and anguish of the days gone by. Nobody said a word about it. But in the trees where the mothers had lain in wait, wet and frenzied, there now hung the huge ripe fruits of summer.*

Translated by Nick Caistor

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Alguien de lava (poetry. Google Books)


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Fuente: * From the book La lenta furia. México, Vuelta, 1989. La Imaginación. Storm. New Writing from Mexico. London, Storm, 1992.



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