One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 11


   “That’s what happened,?he admitted. And he explained in a tone of prostrated resignation: “I had to do it so that the animals would keep on breeding.?
   He needed a little time to convince her about such a strange expedient, but when he finally did so by means of proofs that seemed irrefutable, the only promise that Fernanda demanded from him was that he should not be surprised by death in his concubine’s bed. In that way the three of them continued living without bothering each other. Aureliano Segundo, punctual and loving with both of them. Petra Cotes, strutting because of the reconciliation, and Fernanda, pretending that she did not know the truth.
   The pact did not succeed, however, in incorporating Fernanda into the family. ?rsula insisted in vain that she take off the woolen ruff which she would have on when she got up from making love and which made the neighbors whisper. She could not convince her to use the bathroom or the night lavatory and sell the gold chamberpot to Colonel Aureliano Buendía so that he could convert it into little fishes. Amaranta felt so uncomfortable with her defective diction and her habit of using euphemisms to designate everything that she would always speak gibberish in front of her.
   “Thifisif.?she would say, “ifisif onefos ofosif thofosif whosufu cantantant statantand thefesef smufumellu ofosif therisir owfisown shifisifit.?
   One day, irritated by the mockery, Fernanda wanted to know what Amaranta was saying, and she did not use euphemisms in answering her.
   “I was saying,?she told her, “that you’re one of those people who mix up their ass and their ashes.?
   From that time on they did not speak to each other again. When circumstances demanded it they would send notes. In spite of the visible hostility of the family, Fernanda did not give up her drive to impose the customs of her ancestors. She put an end to the custom of eating in the kitchen and whenever anyone was hungry, and she imposed the obligation of doing it at regular hours at the large table in the dining room, covered with a linen cloth and with silver candlesticks and table service. The solemnity of an act which ?rsula had considered the most simple one of daily life created a tense atmosphere against which the silent Jos?Arcadio Segundo rebelled before anyone else. But the custom was imposed, the same as that of reciting the rosary before dinner, and it drew the attention of the neighbors, who soon spread the rumor that the Buendías did not sit down to the table like other mortals but had changed the act of eating into a kind of high mass. Even ?rsula’s superstitions, with origins that came more from an inspiration of the moment than from tradition, came into conflict with those of Fernanda, who had inherited them from her parents and kept them defined and catalogued for every occasion. As long as ?rsula had full use of her faculties some of the old customs survived and the life of the family kept some quality of her impulsiveness, but when she lost her sight and the weight of her years relegated her to a corner, the circle of rigidity begun by Fernanda from the moment she arrived finally closed completely and no one but she determined the destiny of the family. The business in pastries and small candy animals that Santa Sofía de la Piedad had kept up because of ?rsula’s wishes was considered an unworthy activity by Fernanda and she lost no time in putting a stop to it. The doors of the house, wide open from dawn until bedtime, were closed during siesta time under the pretext that the sun heated up the bedrooms and in the end they were closed for good. The aloe branch and loaf of bread that had been hanging over the door since the days of the founding were replaced by a niche with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Colonel Aureliano, Buendía became aware somehow of those changes and foresaw their consequences. “We’re becoming people of quality,?he protested. “At this rate we’ll end up fighting against the Conservative regime again, but this time to install a king in its place.?Fernanda very tactfully tried not to cross his path. Within herself she was bothered by his independent spirit his resistance to all kinds of social rigidity. She was exasperated by his mugs of coffee at five in the morning, the disorder of his workshop, his frayed blanket, and his custom of sitting in the street door at dusk. But she had to tolerate that one loose piece in the family machinery because she was sure that the old colonel was an animal who had been tamed by the years and by disappointment and who, in a burst of senile rebellion, was quite capable of uprooting the foundations of the house. When her husband decided to give their first son the name of his great-grandfather, she did not dare oppose him because she had been there only a year. But when the first daughter was bom she expressed her unreserved determination to name her Renata after her mother. ?rsula had decided to call her Remedios. After a tense argument, in which Aureliano Segundo acted as the laughing go-between, they baptized her with the name Renata Remedios, but Fernanda went on calling her just Renata while her husband’s family and everyone in town called her Meme, a diminutive of Remedios.