Gautama Christ The names
of God and especially those of His representative
Who is called Jesus or
Christ according to holy books
These names have been used, worn out and left
On the shores of rivers of of human lives
Like the empty shells of a
However when we touch these sacred but exhausted
these wounded scattered petals
Which have come out of the oceans of
compassion and fear
Something still remains, a sip of water,
footprint that still shimmers in the light.
While the names of God were
By the best and the worst, by the clean and the dirty
By the white
and the black, by bloody murderers
And by victims flaming gold with napalm
While Nixon with his
hands Of Cain blessed those whom he condemned to death,
While fewer and
fewer divine footprints were found on the beach
People began to study
The future of honey, the sign of uranium
They looked with
anxiety and hope for the possibilities
Of killing themselves or not killing
themselves, of organizing themselves into a fabric
Of going further on,
of breaking through limits without stopping
What we came across in these
blood thirsty times
With their smoke of burning trash, their dead ashes
As we weren't able to stop looking
We often stopped to look at the
names of God
We lifted them with tenderness because they reminded us
Of our ancestors, of the first people, those who said the prayers
who discovered the hymn that united them in misfortune
And now seeing the
empty fragments which sheltered those ancient people
We feel those smooth
substances, worn out and used up by good and by evil.
Cataure, the Indian, was gone from
the house by morning.
His sister stayed because her fatalistic
heart told her that the lethal
sickness would follow her, no matter what, to the farthest
edge of the Earth.
understood Visitacion's alarm.
don't ever sleep again, so much the better,"Jose Arcadio Buendia said in good
"This way we can
get more out of life."
But the Indian woman explained that the
most fearsome part of the sickness of insomnia was not the impossibility of
sleeping, for the body did not feel any fatigue at all, but its inexorable
evolution toward a more critical
manifestation: a loss of memory.
She meant that when the sick person became used to his state of vigil,
the recollection of his childhood began to be erased from his
memory, then the name and notion
of things, and finally the identity of people and even the
awareness of his own being,
until he sank into a kind of idiocy that had no past.
Buendia, dying with laughter, thought that it was just a question of one of the
many illnesses invented by the Indians'
But Ursula, just to be safe, took the
precaution of isolating
Rebeca from the other children.
After several weeks, when Visitacion's
terror seemed to have died down, Jose Arcadio Buendia found himself rolling
over in bed, unable to fall asleep. Ursula, who had also
awakened, asked him what was
wrong, and he answered: "I'm thinking about Prudencio Aguilar again."
They did not sleep a minute, but the following day they felt so rested
that they forgot about the bad night.
Aureliano commented with surprise
at lunchtime that he felt very well in spite of the fact that he had spent the
whole night in the laboratory
gilding a brooch that he planned to give to Ursula for her birthday.
They did not become alarmed until the third day, when no one felt
sleepy at bedtime and they realized that they had gone more than fifty hours
"The children are
awake too," the Indian said
with her fatalistic conviction. "Once it gets into a house no one can escape
They had indeed contracted the illness of
Ursula, who had learned from her
mother the medicinal value of
plants, prepared and made them all
drink a brew of monkshood, but they could not get to sleep and spent the
dreaming on their
In that state of
hallucinated lucidity, not
only did they see the images of their own
dreams, but some saw the
dreamed by others.
was as if the house were full of visitors.
Sitting in her rocker in a
corner of the kitchen, Rebeca
dreamed that a man who looked
very much like her, dressed in white linen and with his shirt collar closed by
a gold button, was bringing her a
bouquet of roses. He was accompanied by a woman with delicate hands who took
out one rose and put it in the child's hair.
Ursula understood that the
man and woman were Rebeca's parents, but even though she made a great effort to
recognize them, she confirmed her certainty that she had never seen them.
In the meantime, through an oversight that Jose Arcadio Buendia never
forgave himself for, the candy animals made in the house were still being sold
in the village.
adults sucked with delight on the delicious
little green roosters of insomnia, the exquisite pink fish of insomnia, and the
tender yellow ponies of insomnia, so that dawn on Monday found the
No one was
contrary, they were happy at not sleeping
because there was so much to do in Macondo in those days that there was barely
They worked so hard that soon they had nothing else to do
and they could be found at three o'clock in the
morning with their arms
crossed, counting the notes in the waltz of the clock.
Those who wanted
to sleep, not from fatigue but because of the nostalgia for
dreams, tried all kinds of
methods of exhausting themselves.
They would gather together to
converse endlessly, to tell over and over for hours on end the same jokes, to
complicate to the limits of exasperation the
story about the capon, which was an
endless game in which the narrator asked if they wanted him to tell them the
story about the capon, and when they
answered yes, the narrator would say that he had not asked them to say yes, but
whether they wanted him to tell them the story about the capon, and when they
answered no, the narrator told them that he had not asked them to say no, but
whether they wanted him to tell them the story about the capon, and when they
remained silent the narrator told them that he had not asked them to remain
silent but whether they wanted him to tell them the
story about the capon, and no one
could leave because the narrator would say that he had not asked them to leave
but whether they wanted him to tell them the
story about the capon, and so on and
on in a vicious circle that lasted entire nights.
When Jose Arcadio
Buendia realized that the plague had invaded the
village, he gathered together the
heads of families to explain to them what he
knew about the sickness of
insomnia, and they agreed on methods to prevent the scourge from spreading to
other towns in the swamp. That was why they took the bells off the goats, bells
that the Arabs had swapped them for macaws, and put
them at the entrance to the village
at the disposal of those who would not listen to the advice and entreaties of
the sentinels and insisted on visiting the
All strangers who
passed, through the streets of Macondo at that time had to ring their bells so
that the sick people would know that they were healthy. They were not allowed
to eat or drink anything
during their stay, for there was no doubt but that the illness was transmitted
by mouth, and all food and drink had
been contaminated by insomnia.
In that way they kept the plague
restricted to the perimeter of the village.
So effective was the
quarantine that the day came when the emergency situation was accepted as a
natural thing and life was
organized in such a way that work picked up
its rhythm again and no one worried any more about the useless habit of
It was Aureliano who conceived the formula that was to
protect them against loss of
memory for several months.
He discovered it by chance.
expert insomniac, having been
one of the first, he had learned the art
One day he was
looking for the small anvil that he used for laminating metals and he could not
remember its name.
father told him: "Stake."
Aureliano wrote the name on a piece of
paper that he pasted to the base of the small anvil: stake. In that way
he was sure of not forgetting it in the future. It did not occur to him that
this was the first manifestation of a loss of
memory, because the object had a
difficult name to remember.
But a few days later he discovered that he had trouble
remembering almost every
object in the laboratory.
Then he marked them with their respective names so that all he had to
do was read the inscription in order to identify them.
When his father
told him about his at having
forgotten even the most
impressive happenings of his childhood, Aureliano explained his method to him,
and Jose Arcadio Buendia put it into practice all through the house and later
on imposed it on the whole
With an inked brush
he marked everything with its name: table,
chair; clock, door; wall, bed, pan.
He went to the
corral and marked the animals and
plants: cow, goat,
pig, hen, cassava, caladium, banana.
Little by little, studying the
infinite possibilities of a loss
of memory, he realized that the
day might come when things would be recognized by their inscriptions but that
no one would remember their use.
Then he was more explicit.
The sign that he
hung on the neck of the cow was an exemplary proof of the way in which the
inhabitants of Macondo were prepared to fight against loss of
memory: This is the cow. She
must be milked every morning so
that she will produce milk, and the milk must be boiled in order to be mixed
with coffee to
make coffee and
Thus they went on living in a reality that was slipping away,
momentarily captured by words, but which would escape irremediably when they
forgot the values of the written letters.
At the beginning of the road into the
swamp they put up a sign that said MACONDO and
another larger one on the main street that said
In all the houses keys to
memorizing objects and feelings
had been written.
But the system
demanded so much vigilance and moral strength that many succumbed to the spell
of an imaginary reality, one
invented by themselves, which was less practical for them but more comforting.
Pilar Ternera was the one who contributed most to popularize that
mystification when she conceived
the trick of reading the past in cards as she had read the future before.
By means of that recourse the insomniacs began to
live in a reality built on the
uncertain alternatives of the cards, where a father was
remembered faintly as the
dark man who had arrived at the
beginning of April and a mother was
remembered only as the
dark woman who wore a
gold ring on her left hand, and
where a birth date was reduced to the last Tuesday on which a lark sang in the
Defeated by those
practices of consolation, Jose Arcadio Buendia then decided to build the
memory machine that he had
desired once in order to remember
the marvelous inventions of the
The artifact was based on the possibility of reviewing every
beginning to end, the
totality of knowledge acquired
during one's life.
He conceived of it as a spinning dictionary that a
person placed on the axis could operate by means of a lever, so that in very
few hours there would pass before his eyes the notions most necessary for life.
He had succeeded in writing almost fourteen thousand entries when along
the road from the swamp a strange looking old man with the sad sleepers' bell
appeared, carrying a bulging suitcase tied with a rope and pulling a cart
covered with black cloth.
The old man went straight to the house of
Jose Arcadio Buendia.
Visitacion did not recognize him when she opened
the door and she thought he had come with the idea of selling something,
unaware that nothing could be sold in a village that was sinking irrevocably
into the quicksand of forgetfulness.
He was a decrepit man.
Although his voice was also
broken by uncertainty and his
hands seemed to doubt the
existence of things, it was evident
that he came from the world where men could still sleep and
Buendia was found sitting in the living room fanning himself with a patched
black hat as he read with passionate attention the signals pasted to the walls.
The old man greeted him with a broad show of
afraid that he had known him at
another time and that he did not remember him now.
visitor was aware of his
The old man felt
himself forgotten, not with
the irremediable forgetfulness of the
heart, but with a different
kind of forgetfulness, which was more cruel and irrevocable and which he knew
very well because it was the forgetfulness of approaching death.
Garcia Marquez, from one hundred years of
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