One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 16


   Aureliano Segundo returned home with his trunks, convinced that not only ?rsula but all the inhabitants of Macondo were waiting for it to dear in order to die. He had seen them as he passed by, sitting in their parlors with an absorbed look and folded arms, feeling unbroken time pass, relentless times, because it was useless to divide it into months and years, and the days into hours, when one could do nothing but contemplate the rain. The children greeted Aureliano Segundo with excitement because he was playing the asthmatic accordion for them again. But the concerts did not attract their attention as much as the sessions with the encyclopedia, and once more they got together in Meme’s room, where Aureliano Segundo’s imagination changed a dirigible into a flying elephant who was looking for a place to sleep among the clouds. On one occasion he came across a man on horseback who in spite of his strange outfit had a familiar look, and after examining him closely he came to the conclusion that it was a picture of Colonel Aureliano Buendía. He showed it to Fernanda and she also admitted the resemblance of the horseman not only to the colonel but to everybody in the family, although he was actually a Tartar warrior. Time passed in that way with the Colossus of Rhodes and snake charmers until his wife told him that there were only three pounds of dried meat and a sack of rice left in the pantry.
   And what do you want me to do about it??he asked.
   “I don’t know,?Fernanda answered. “That’s men’s business.?
   “Well,?Aureliano Segundo said, “something will be done when it clears.?
   He was more interested in the encyclopedia than In the domestic problem, even when he had to content himself with a scrap of meat and a little rice for lunch. “It’s impossible to do anything now,?he would say. “It can’t rain for the rest of our lives.?And while the urgencies of the pantry grew greater, Fernanda’s indignation also grew, until her eventual protests, her infrequent outbursts came forth in an uncontained, unchained torrent that begin one morning like the monotonous drone of a guitar and as the day advanced rose in pitch, richer and more splendid. Aureliano Segundo was not aware of the singsong until the following day after breakfast when he felt himself being bothered by a buzzing that was by then more fluid and louder than the sound of the rain, and it was Fernanda, who was walking throughout the house complaining that they had raised her to be a queen only to have her end up as a servant in a madhouse, with a lazy, idolatrous, libertine husband who lay on his back waiting for bread to rain down from heaven while she was straining her kidneys trying to keep afloat a home held together with pins where there was so much to do, so much to bear up under and repair from the time God gave his morning sunlight until it was time to go to bed that when she got there her eyes were full of ground glass, and yet no one ever said to her, “Good morning, Fernanda, did you sleep well??Nor had they asked her, even out of courtesy, why she was so pale or why she awoke with purple rings under her eyes in spite of the fact that she expected it, of course, from a family that had always considered her a nuisance, an old rag, a booby painted on the wall, and who were always going around saying things against her behind her back, calling her church mouse, calling her Pharisee, calling her crafty, and even Amaranta, may she rest in peace, had said aloud that she was one of those people who could not tell their rectums from their ashes, God have mercy, such words, and she had tolerated everything with resignation because of the Holy Father, but she had not been able to tolerate it any more when that evil Jos?Arcadio Segundo said that the damnation of the family had come when it opened its doors to a stuck-up highlander, just imagine, a bossy highlander, Lord save us, a highlander daughter of evil spit of the same stripe as the highlanders the government sent to kill workers, you tell me, and he was referring to no one but her, the godchild of the Duke of Alba, a lady of such lineage that she made the liver of presidents?wives quiver, a noble dame of fine blood like her, who had the right to sign eleven peninsular names and who was the only mortal creature in that town full of bastards who did not feel all confused at the sight of sixteen pieces of silverware, so that her adulterous husband could die of laughter afterward and say that so many knives and forks and spoons were not meant for a human being but for a centipede, and the only one who could tell with her eyes closed when the white wine was served and on what side and in which glass and when the red wine and on what side and in which glass, and not like that peasant of an Amaranta, may she rest in peace, who thought that white wine was served in the daytime and red wine at night, and the only one on the whole coast who could take pride in the fact that she took care of her bodily needs only in golden chamberpots, so that Colonel Aureliano Buendía, may he rest in peace, could have the effrontery to ask her with his Masonic Ill humor where she had received that privilege and whether she did not shit shit but shat sweet basil, just imagine, with those very words, and so that Renata, her own daughter, who through an oversight had seen her stool in the bedroom, had answered that even if the pot was all gold and with a coat of arms, what was inside was pure shit, physical shit, and worse even than any other kind because it was stuck-up highland shit, just imagine, her own daughter, so that she never had any illusions about the rest of the family, but in any case she had the right to expect a little more consideration from her husband because, for better or for worse, he was her consecrated spouse her helpmate, her legal despoiler, who took upon himself of his own free and sovereign will the grave responsibility of taking her away from her paternal home, where she never wanted for or suffered from anything, where she wove funeral wreaths as a pastime, since her godfather had sent a letter with his signature and the stamp of his ring on the sealing wax simply to say that the hands of his goddaughter were not meant for tasks of this world except to play the clavichord, and, nevertheless, her insane husband had taken her from her home with all manner of admonitions and warnings and had brought her to that frying pan of hell where a person could not breathe because of the heat, and before she had completed her Pentecostal fast he had gone off with his wandering trunks and his wastrel’s accordion to loaf in adultery with a wretch of whom it was only enough to see her behind, well, that’s been said, to see her wiggle her mare’s behind in order to guess that she was a, that she was a, just the opposite of her, who was a lady in a palace or a pigsty, at the table or in bed, a lady of breeding, God-fearing, obeying His laws and submissive to His wishes, and with whom he could not perform, naturally, the acrobatics and trampish antics that he did with the other one, who, of course, was ready for anything like the French matrons, and even worse, if one considers well, because they at least had the honesty to put a red light at their door, swinishness like that, just imagine, and that was all that was needed by the only and beloved daughter of Do?a Renata Argote and Don Fernando del Carpio, and especially the latter, an upright man, a fine Christian, a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, those who receive direct from God the privilege of remaining intact in their graves with their skin smooth like the cheeks of a bride and their eyes alive and clear like emeralds.