Manín de Pepa José, if he had been born a young man and had studied and written in the newspapers, he would have been an esthete . But in Llantones, a rural parish near Gijón, Manín was nothing more than a folganzan , who was not worth the borona he ate … when he ate it.
His mother, Pepa José, ie a Josefa, wife of Joseph, and was widowed in middle age, and although the caseríathat he had been leased, in the writing of the contract it seemed like a thing of Manín, José’s heir, who was in charge of everything was the mother; only she was counted on. Lean, tall, with much bone, fierce eyes, feverish activity, manly gestures, he was an eagle for work, for the care of the farm, and his servants and laborers walked on one foot. Only Manín, the only son, enjoyed the privilege of the benevolence of that woman who would not give a bite of bread without paying for it some service. But Manín was something else; for him and for him she worked so hard. He was not strong, showed no aptitude for the tasks of the field, and the mother had dreamed of making him a priest. But he, very happy with working little and when he wanted, did not enter because of singing mass. Work disgusts himba … but asceticism too. He liked the joy, the noise, the dance. He was a piper by hobby, and of notorious ability. With the bagpipes he softened the character of his mother, that beast; He charmed her with those shrill gurgles of the pointer and with the asthmatic notes that came from the deep bowels of the bellows.
When Pepa shouted at the neighbors for half a league around, scolding a servant or harassing a debtor, and the imprecations of that Eumenide of carrying bread echoed in the chestnut grove that surrounded the farmhouse , Manín, touching the Most High Lord or The Praviana in the out of tune and melancholic bagpipe, little by little appeased the fury, attracted it and ended up softening it.
Manín was by trade, by real trade, a dreamer. A happy dreamer, who sought solitude to savor the memories of the festivities, the pilgrimages, the happy dances, full of stormy, horrid ijujús , an expression of centaur hysteria . Manín did not know that the ijujú was Celtic; he regarded it as a way of neighing from the village boys. And he was whinnying too, especially there to himself.
If the world were always to woo, dance the prima dance, shoot the puppy to solemnize the procession, play the bagpipe when raised in the mass sung on the day of the festival! And then, in the moonlight, by the chattering above, accompany a raptor, and cast the prey at the door of his house until near dawn! And then, alone, in the llinda , or at siesta time, feel the breeze full of dear, familiar smells, reclining your body on the shaved grass, and daydreaming, ruminating sweet memories; like cows, sitting in the shade, chewed their food!
But life was not that. In the absence of his mother, what would become of Manín? And Pepa was getting old, and had ailments, which caused her excessive work. She felt mortally wounded and trembled for the future of that son, unable to run the ranch. It had already been whispered around the village that the master , if Pepa died, and Manín was left alone, would not let him continue with the lease, because in the power of such a landlord the goods would lose a lot.
Pepa saw her son’s only salvation in marrying him to a woman who was like her, who put on her pants, and worked and ran the farm. Rosa Francisca de Xunco was the girl she wanted. It was like her, ant with wings for greed. She was the daughter of a neighbor who had always envied Pepa José’s farm.
Rosa married Manín without even looking at him, thinking nothing more than to send there, where Pepa had so much command. Both females were the same; but for the same reason they were incompatible. They were two queen bees; one had to succumb. As a kind of tacit pact, it became a condition of the wedding that Rosa did not have much time to obey anyone; Pepa was left over, if what was treated was treated. Pepa knew him well. He admired Rosa, he saw in her the future protection, and also tyrant, of his Manín; and he hated Rosa in need of her, and envied him the succession that she had to leave him. But Pepa died soon. Rosa Francisca took her place and everything continued as before: the servants walked on one foot, the farmhouse prospered, and Manín played the bagpipes, daydreaming in the llinda , and missed, a little, the rough, but true, affection of his mother. Rosa certainly didn’t spoil him; despised him; I had him in constant forgetfulness; but she let him eat without hardly working.
Manín also felt, in addition to the absence of his mother, the absence of love affairs: he had already finished looting the prison , courting on Saturday nights, until dawn on Sunday. With what to replace that sweetness? With the bowling game? He tried … but he was not amused. Montaigne found neither in gluttony nor in any pleasure a substitute worthy of love: he understood old men who consoled themselves with good drinks, but he could not replace love with drunkenness. Manín, if not something as delicate as reboundingand ergotizing with a good girl, he ended up finding a certain charm in the glasses of frosty anise, malvasia and rose. Sweet liqueurs were the substitute for courtship for that montera epicurist. He would go to the markets of Gijón and there he would dispatch himself to his liking drinking in a cafe, between the manor , anisole, rosa, malaga and cosas well. Much sweetness, and seeing candelillas, and imagining the world less bad than it positively was … And going home to sleep, hearing phrases of contempt from that Rosa, who was his tyrant, but also the protection that his mother had left him .
They had a daughter. Good insults cost Manín. Rosa would have wanted a child.
There was not. Work kills, apparently. While Manín was kept fresh, lush, despite the years, Rosa began to decline; a premature, hasty old age put an end to her … and she had to think about the same thing that Pepa José had thought one day. If she died, to whom would the hunting go? The new master, the other’s son, would not leave her in the power of that useless Manín thing either … And Rosa, for the same purpose that Pepa had sought a woman for Manín, sought a husband for Ramona, Manín’s daughter from Rosa.
Ramona resembled her father: she was cheerful, dreamy like him, not very active, weak of character; she did not serve, like her mother and grandmother, to take care of the farm. But Roque de Xuaca, the husband Rosa chose, without consulting Ramona, Roque’s wife, was the most greedy and tenacious villager for the work of the entire council. In his youth, while he was single, he never went to pilgrimages for the girls, but for bowling. Earning a few cents at the bowling alley, by dint of sweat, was all his recreation. The rest of the week, instead of the bothose of Sunday, he had the fesoría , the shovel, the scythe … the cents he took out to the ground. He married without love, with nothing but greed; willing to be the master as soon as possible. Rosa soon died, and Roque began to treat his father-in-law worse than the dog, who served him better by keeping the house for him.
Manín trembled before her daughter’s husband; He did not think of contesting his domain: he certainly accepted his role as a useless burden. I couldn’t really work, I didn’t know; every time less. Despite his good appearances, Manín felt old, very weak, every day in need of shelter, to be cared for, to be left with his hobbies as a poor devil friend of sweet drinks, of the joyous excitement of the liquor … But Roque did not consent to even what Rosa had tolerated out of contempt. Roque de Xuaca was brutal, vile, cruel. He held Ramona in his fist, and the poor daughter of Manín, always ill, did not dare to defend her father. Neither Manín complained to Ramona, out of fear that her husband would mistreat her if she advocated for her father.
Roque tried the impossible: to force Manín to really work, profitably and consistently. Manin had only strength of will … to oppose such trials, new to his life and sure to fail. What it is to work like the others would not work no matter how much Roque sent. He could starve him to death with a stick; but making him spend the day hunched over breaking clods was impossible. But the one from Xuaca did not give up. He gave up having a slave in Manin to save him a servant, but he did not renounce to make the best possible use of the poor old man. Like a young boy , he was forced to take the cattle to the pasture, he was the rapacín of the llinda and he was employed in other easy, simple tasks, but annoying for an old man. And, of course, his ration was shortened. The good drinks, the colt trips to the village, the morsels of soft bread, the clean and fresh clothes are over; He was even thrown out of the warm and comfortable room he occupied in the new house and forced to live in the old hut of the farmhouse, within a rifle shot of his daughter’s house. For Roque, his father-in-law was less than the last day laborer.
Manín felt isolated, besieged by hunger; I wanted to kill him out of boredom, loneliness, deprivation … Malaga, Rosa, Marasquino! Memories of the lost good! Not a copy in a year. Borona , fabes, water … a little milk, a little … and the rest sadness, cold, loneliness, boredom … What Roque could not do was overcome Manin’s fondness for the delights of which he was deprived. He dreamed of them, he did not think of anything else. The deprivation of those material pleasures, of good drinks, of good morsels, made him give an exclusive interest to such things; all her voluptuousness, which before was spread in so many delights, love, music, the vague poetry of dreams, dance, joyful conversation … now it was reduced to indulging the palate, which she could not achieve, and that every day he wanted more strongly.
When his attachment to such rude appetites was held in his face, Manin was moved, with pity infinite of himself, and, like an elegiac Anacreon, he tried to show that to a poor old man who could no longer enjoy other pleasures, good drinks, good bites, were due to him as is due respect.
But Roque treated him worse every day: he came to reduce him to the condition, almost almost, of a beggar.
Ramona died in a bad delivery. Roque, sure long ago that he was staying with the farm, dressed in black, with winter clothes in August, before the corpse left the house. He set his face hard, contrite, with a sour grin, and received the priests and the relatives and neighbors who came to the funeral and the funerals, with serious kindness, without exaggerating the manifestations of pain, without forgetting his duties as master of home to the guests, but without neglecting for a moment in his role as a widower who must have been deeply distressed inside. With sighs, he answered the rubric consolations, and in silence he paid with gifts the philosophical and religious maxims with which the guests tried to mitigate the pain that he was in the case of feeling.
Nobody remembered Manín; But he came from his exile from the old cabin without being called, and it never occurred to anyone to throw him out of there, just as the dog was not thrown out, which entered and left the mortuary chamber.
Manín was more than distressed, stunned,oriented. What was to become of him? Some, the few who did not know the contempt with which the poor old man was looked at in the house, offered their condolences and tried to console him as well. These consolations made Manín think about what was happening to him: he was losing a daughter, Ramona, his only daughter … His character as a father demanded a deep moral pain … deeper … Manín felt a invincible laziness to suffer. He understood that if he insisted on being moved, on grief, imagining fine thingsas in the past when he ate and drank well and was hot-blooded, he would achieve something, he would get tormented, remember Ramona’s childhood, remote caresses … but all that could be excused. Manin sighed, murmured phrases of resignation mixed with others of pain … but he resisted, in his heart, to let his imagination go through the black fields of sorrow. Also, if he thought about Ramona, he had to think about himself, how he looked … and that was serious, terrible, positive, peremptory, bad for the living, not for the dead, who are no longer … . Nerd; nothing to think about the pain that awaited him …
By smell Manin began to separate himself from all those imaginary sadnesses to which the priests and the neighbors who spoke to him about the dead woman invited him.
From the kitchen, very near, came smells that were positive delights in the form of hope that you could almost taste. He went into the kitchen. The great funeral feast was being prepared, the inexcusable banquet in the village. The xenru , the son-in-law, Roque, was in everything; the dignity of hunting demanded that sacrifice: good food and many priests to collect the food. Showing himself rude and not leaving for a moment the sour gesture, which he believed to be sadness, Roque proved what he owed to his role as widower better than with phrases that did not occur to him. On such a caring day, he did not think of the deceased directly four times. Besides, nothing had really happened there: he was already the master; it would continue to be.
Manín, while the clergy and the rest of the mourning carried out all the due diligence on the body (that’s what they all called Ramona’s corpse), stayed at home around the pots, and when the funeral procession returned from the distant church, he already knew the hungry poor man what to expect; on the main table, that of the clergymen, he had set for him, and there were two soups, two stews, three principles, rice pudding, coffee, cheese and wine and liqueurs. Four long-necked bottles he had seen on the dough. Those were the liquors. He couldn’t read and couldn’t tell from the content labels, but he had no doubt that some of this would be sweet.
Manín grew impatient. The clergymen and laymen who had gone to bury their daughter, their Ramona, and to sing to her a gorigori of the repicoteados were slow to return. If the rice pudding was burned? And the soup? Wouldn’t the soup be lost? If he had dared to put a trick on the kitchen, he would have advised the respectable María Xuanón, the great cook of the region, not to throw in the rice and noodles so soon, because the masses for the dead are very long sung with great luxury. .
Manín planted himself, like a vigilant rooster, at the top of the saltadera , between the quintana and the llosa , to anticipate the events, to dominate more way and see when the first gentlemen who were to return from the church and the cemetery appeared. From his forehead, so as not to be dazzled by the sun, Manín saw the first group, black, compact; then another of more people, and another and another … They returned like a flock of crows that dissolves. How little haste they were! How much hypocrisy! “Manín thought in his own way.” They come with leaden feet to hide their desire to take the slices! They all seem overwhelmed with grief, and are exclusively feeling hunger.
When those of the first group reached the saltadera , Manin left the passage free. Most of them were villagers who knew him well; two or three who were from the village offered their condolences again, shook his hand. Manin grunted gratefully, but somewhat embarrassed, as if fearing that this honor would not correspond to him, on account of his son-in-law, the widower, and this might cost him his seat at the table.
Roque arrived with the last group, with the priest of the parish, the archpriest and other clergymen. He did not deign to look at the father of his deceased. Among the people of the mourning it was already noticeable that the sad event that gathered them there and fed them that day was beginning to be an old and worn issue. The secular element showed more hypocrisy or more care of the forms ; the common places that should serve as consolation and do not work were still repeated; their faces were preserved with a rueful expression. The The clergy were less disguising their indifference, and there is something relatively sympathetic about this frankness of unconscious selfishness. Burying one’s neighbor was the job of those good parish priests and chaplains on the loose; they lived on that; so it was not a matter of crying. Furthermore, without realizing it, the priests showed, among the villagers, a certain air of superiority, as well as caste, or at least class. They talked and joked in the presence of the dummies almost with the same freedom that they used in their gaudeamus at parties, when they were all from the Church. The jokes and liberties of the country clergymen might not be in the best taste, or funny, or correct; but they were innocent, almost childish. They lacked certain rules of clerical civility, if one can speak thus, which would have required the presence of a bishop, v. gr. But that those somewhat broken ways offend God is not a sure thing.
Roque, back from the funeral, was already someone else. He was thinking exclusively of his guests, not of the deceased. The vinegar gesture faded; The black winter suit was left in charge of remembering the social role played by the widower. To serve well the priests, and those of the town, and as one could to the others, this was already the only desire of the one who was going to keep the farm that he already owned, in fact , so many years ago.
“Gentlemen, come to the table!” Said Roque in a solemn and somewhat funereal tone, standing in the middle of the corral door, where many priests were examining the cows and the reeds.
“Holy word!” A chaplain dared to say, pockmarked, small, vivacious, who boasted of being mischievous, frank, and as worldly as the synods allowed.
They all went upstairs to the dining room, improvised in the room upstairs, narrow, dark, and poorly painted yellow and green; luxury introduced by Roque, who was ambitious and aspired to sybaritism, there, for when he saved enough.
One head was occupied by the archpriest and another by the parish priest of Llantones, who was saying:
—Here Jove, here Puao, here Contreces, here Granda …
And so he was pointing out a chair to each of the priests, designating them with the name of the respective parish, if they had one.
To the right of the archpriest they seated Manin; Roque sat next to the parish priest of Llantones.
Manín would have felt deliquescent pride if he had been able to appreciate that this place was an honor. But he did not bite so high in matters of pomp and vanity, as the inspection of the pots and pots had given him the assurance that there was food left over, even for the poor, he did not give importance to the place, but to the fact of sitting at table. The where mattered little.
“Don Manuel, courage!” We have to eat, what the hell! ”Said Don Primitivo, the smallpox band-aid, who was near the stunned Manín.
-Yes sir; I think so. We will eat … what a remedy! …
He was going to sigh, but he left it, because he claimed it an excused and disgusting hypocrisy. His Ramona, who would see him from heaven, or from purgatory, would definitely approve of his conduct; Besides, with her, with her daughter, she had no reason to go around with compliments: she knew very well that her father had not eaten fine things, no less food from priests, many years ago. How could his senses not rejoice? The steaming soup smelled so good! The table was so white, the bread seemed so tender, the wine so warm and generous … Who said sorry! … that is, sorry yes, of course; but later, later … at another time, another day … many days … yes, damn, many days! … more each day, perhaps … Recontra! Well, he wasn’t going to think about that so black, so sad! …
“Rice or noodles … Manin?” Asked the archpriest.
” Mix it up, mix it up, ” answered Ramona’s father with humility and dove-like candor.
He meant to give him noodles and rice.
He ate, he devoured Manín; two cheeks; he swallowed quickly, like a dog or cat that raids a pantry, looking suspiciously at his son-in-law between bites. Roque was very busy with the attentions of a householder who wants to entertain the guests. That is why, Manín thought, she let him eat whatever he wanted.
The father of the deceased smiled to the right and left, looking at everyone with an expression of gratitude and tenderness, as if to say: Thank you, gentlemen; Thank you for admitting Ramona’s miserable father, may he rest in peace, at this table so well belife, where you are going to get your gut out of bad years, of many bad years!
The first glass of good Toro wine was received by Manín’s body as if with it he had been anointed king and emperor of earthly happiness. What things of affection, of warm, familiar intimacy, full of sweet memories, the grape juice told her as it fell down her throat!
The first stew came, the fresh pot, full of goodies, such as good chorizo, ham, chicken giblets, stale bacon, and Manín let Don Primitivo fill his plate, until it became a pyramid, with all those stomach delicacies.
The conversation was beginning to liven up. There was no longer any reservation, hypocrisy of any kind, not even on the part of the secular element, who previously feigned some pain. Just as when there is a party no one remembers the saint, now no one remembers the deceased, whose health … eternal was eating all that gathering of lukewarm Christians.
There was talk of the harvest, of the last contest called by the bishop, of the Masons; but the frank joy, though not blatant or boisterous, did not show itself until the jokes began. Wine seemed inexhaustible to Manín, and stories like wine; He believed that those gentlemen priests drew from the bottom of their glasses all those stories that always ended with a joke, that everyone laughed, and that he did not understand most of the time, but he also celebrated with a laugh and a drink. The stories were, the more, relative to the clergy; The hero used to be a famous priest from La Parada, whom Manín was admiring and envying, like César Alejandro. If only he had been a priest! What drinks, what pitances, what feasts!
The blood sausage came, with the beans and the llacón and the cider. Mother of God, what memories of Olympic bliss those smells aroused in Manín’s entrails! Yes, in the entrails; because they were memories, sensations, delight of the palate hallucinated by evocations of remote fillings; association of ideas, and even more, of voluptuousness; sentimentality of gluttony … what did poor Manin know! But it was a charm, stomach and heart participated in the delight …
Youth, abundance … the past … his mother, his wife … his daughter … his dreams! … Manín loosened the mean belt with which he held his pants, wiped the sweat from his forehead with the napkin … and gulped down a glass of red wine.
Roast meat, a duck, stuffed zucchini … all that was passed around the table and Pepa José ate everything for about four; and on the way drank like six …
Undoubtedly, the world already seemed different to him: he wanted to think and he missed what he did not know was called logic; I wanted to feel and felt strange things, illogical too; for example: perdoHe would swim to his son-in-law and hug him, in mind and when he remembered Ramona it did not hurt him much inside, but he saw her as in the center of the earth, dead with laughter and happy to see her father so well eaten and on his way to take a drunk of those who sleep two days …
Manin, without fear of his son-in-law or the archpriest, began to speak aloud, and told green tales, and philosophized in his own way about the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins. He said what he wanted, no one went to hand. The unhappy man believed that everyone was as exalted as he was; I could not notice that it was out of tune, that the joy of others was contained, expressive without noise, above all, without imprudence, without sentimental paradoxes … Nothing of that could be seen, he stood up, but prayed, cried, hugged right hand and sinister … and when it was time for the liquors, hugging the bottle of anisole, sticky and sweet, he sang in his own way, in bable prose, an elegiac eclogue, invoking the right to enjoy the present, that orgy, which The feast was for him; and he made an effort to combine, with incoherent words, pain and joy,Epipsychidion harmonize the love of two women at the same time.
Roque allowed his father-in-law to absurd, out of tune, decompose, scandalize … It suited him … Those gentlemen already saw it; witnesses were: it was explained why he treated the father of his deceased like a dog … If you let him eat and drink well, he would go crazy …
The scandal was huge. “Roque was right: his father-in-law was impossible .” Opinion in the surrounding villages was unanimous. At the funeral meal no one, not even the most indifferent to the mourning of the house, had overreached. As always, he had wanted to distract the family, telling jokes, encouraging the conversation, but all with a certain sense, without leaving the appropriate tone … and he, Manin, the father of the deceased, had gotten drunk, and had sung dirty verses and had cried … wine and cider … Horror!
Some months later, neither Roque, nor the parish priest of Llantones, nor the archpriest, nor any of those diners who were so subdued, remembered poor Ramona, who ate dirt, even in their short prayers. What was sometimes talked about was still the scandal that Manín de Pepa José had given at the food at his daughter’s funeral …
Manín returned to his miserable hut, to his life as a shepherd dog; decrepit, eating like an anchorite … drunk with tears, with memories, with need … full of self-pity … and seeing the empty world, enemy, with him because for him he no longer cared for that daughter who seemed rude and was like air, like light, like heat … He needed her, with the yearning of an outdated patient … and she did not come , did not return, could not return …
Manín wanted a remedy that he did not know how to look for, in its short range; the remedy he wanted was suicide, but he couldn’t find it. Animals do not usually commit suicide, although they suffer a lot at times. Manín was like an old, rotten, helpless nag … who didn’t know how to commit suicide. Perhaps he was stupid, with the fixed pain-idea of his Ramona … who was not there, in Llantones … in the farmhouse … to pity the poor old man, and give him air, light, warmth … life. .. the life that neither left nor stayed; that he had and did not have … To his delirium of sorrows, Ramona absent was the dead sun, and he, Manín, naked, in the street, shivering with cold … with fear, thirst, hunger! ..