One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 16


   Fernanda really believed that her husband was waiting for it to clear to return to his concubine. During the first months of the rain she was afraid that he would try to slip into her bedroom and that she would have to undergo the shame of revealing to him that she was incapable of reconciliation since the birth of Amaranta ?rsula. That was the reason for her anxious correspondence with the invisible doctors, interrupted by frequent disasters of the mail. During the first months when it was learned that the trains were jumping their tracks in the rain, a letter from the invisible doctors told her that hers were not arriving. Later on, when contact with the unknown correspondents was broken, she had seriously thought of putting on the tiger mask that her husband had worn in the bloody carnival and having herself examined under a fictitious name by the banana company doctors. But one of the many people who regularly brought unpleasant news of the deluge had told her that the company was dismantling its dispensaries to move them to where it was not raining. Then she gave up hope. She resigned herself to waiting until the rain stopped and the mail service was back to normal, and in the meantime she sought relief from her secret ailments with recourse to her imagination, because she would rather have died than put herself in the hands of the only doctor left in Macondo, the extravagant Frenchman who ate grass like a donkey. She drew close to ?rsula, trusting that she would know of some palliative for her attacks. But her twisted habit of not calling things by their names made her put first things last and use “expelled?for “gave birth?and “burning?for “flow?so that it would all be less shameful, with the result that ?rsula reached the reasonable conclusion that her trouble was intestinal rather than uterine, and she advised her to take a dose of calomel on an empty stomach. If it had not been for that suffering, which would have had nothing shameful about it for someone who did not suffer as well from shamefulness, and if it had not been for the loss of the letters, the rain would not have bothered Fernanda, because, after all, her whole life had been spent as if it had been raining. She did not change her schedule or modify her ritual. When the table was still raised up on bricks and the chairs put on planks so that those at the table would not get their feet wet, she still served with linen tablecloths and fine chinaware and with lighted candles, because she felt that the calamities should not be used as a pretext for any relaxation in customs. No one went out into the street any more. If it had depended on Fernanda, they would never have done so, not only since it started raining but since long before that, because she felt that doors had been invented to stay closed and that curiosity for what was going on in the street was a matter for harlots. Yet she was the first one to look out when they were told that the funeral procession for Colonel Gerineldo Márquez was passing by and even though she only watched it through the half-opened window it left her in such a state of affliction that for a long time she repented in her weakness.