One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 17


   “I’m Aureliano Buendía,?he said.
   “That’s right?she replied. “And now it’s time for you to start learning how to be a silversmith.?
   She had confused him with her son again, because the hot wind that came after the deluge and had brought occasional waves of lucidity to ?rsula’s brain had passed. She never got her reason back. When she went into the bedroom she found Petronila Iguarán there with the bothersome crinolines and the beaded jacket that she put on for formal visits, and she found Tranquilina Maria Miniata Alacoque Buendía, her grandmother, fanning herself with a peacock feather in her invalid’s rocking chair, and her great-grandfather Aureliano Arcadio Buendía, with his imitation dolman of the viceregal guard, and Aureliano Iguarán, her father, who had invented a prayer to make the worms shrivel up and drop off cows, and her timid mother, and her cousin with the pig’s tail, and Jos?Arcadio Buendía, and her dead sons, all sitting in chairs lined up against the wall as if it were a wake and not a visit. She was tying a colorful string of chatter together, commenting on things from many separate places and many different times, so that when Amaranta ?rsula returned from school and Aureliano grew tired of the encyclopedia, they would find her sitting on her bed, talking to herself and lost in a labyrinth of dead people. “Fire!?she shouted once in terror and for an instant panic spread through the house, but what she was telling about was the burning of a barn that she had witnessed when she was four years old. She finally mixed up the past with the present in such a way that in the two or three waves of lucidity that she had before she died, no one knew for certain whether she was speaking about what she felt or what she remembered. Little by little she was shrinking, turning into a fetus, becoming mummified in life to the point that in her last months she was a cherry raisin lost inside of her nightgown, and the arm that she always kept raised looked like the paw of a marimonda monkey. She was motionless for several days, and Santa Sofía de la Piedad had to shake her to convince herself that she was alive and sat her on her lap to feed her a few spoonfuls of sugar water. She looked like a newborn old woman. Amaranta ?rsula and Aureliano would take her in and out of the bedroom, they would lay her on the altar to see if she was any larger than the Christ child, and one afternoon they hid her in a closet in the Pantry where the rats could have eaten her. One Palm Sunday they went into the bedroom while Fernanda was in church and carried ?rsula out by the neck and ankles.