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
Something still remains, a sip of water,
A rainbow footprint
that still shimmers in the light.
While the names of God were used
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,
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.
It was the insomnia plague. Cataure,
the Indian, was gone from the house by
stayed because her fatalistic heart
told her that the lethal sickness would follow her, no matter what, to the
farthest corner of the
No one understood
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
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.
Jose Arcadio Buendia, dying with
laughter, thought that it was just a question of one of the many
illnesses invented by the Indians'
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.
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 without sleeping.
"The children are
awake too," the Indian said
with her fatalistic conviction.
"Once it gets into a house no one can escape the
They had indeed contracted the
illness of insomnia.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
day dreaming on their feet.
In that state
of hallucinated lucidity,
not only did they see the images of their
own dreams, but some saw the
images dreamed by others.
It 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 whole
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 enough time.
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 village.
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 sleeping.
It was Aureliano who conceived the formula that was to
protect them against
memory for several months.
discovered it by chance.
An expert insomniac,
having been one of the first, he had learned the art of silver work to perfection.
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.
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,
Little by little, studying the
infinite possibilities of a
memory, he realized that the
day might come when things would be
recognized by their inscriptions but that no one would
remember their use.
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
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 milk.
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.
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 GOD EXISTS.
In all the houses keys to memorizing
objects and feelings had been
But the system
demanded so much vigilance and moral
strength that many succumbed to the spell of an
reality, one invented by themselves,
which was less practical for them but more comforting.
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 laurel
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 morning, from
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.
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 remember.
Jose Arcadio Buendia was found sitting in the
living room fanning himself
with a patched black hat as he read with compassionate attention the signals pasted to
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 death.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from one hundred years
back to stacks
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