Monday, August 20, 2007

Mga Kuto ni Gabito

I love this passage from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobio, Living to Tell The Tale
Until I was five, death had been for me a natural end that happened to other people. The delights of heaven and the torments of hell seemed only lessons to be memorized in Father Astete’s catechism class. They had nothing to do with me, until I learned in passing at a wake that lice were escaping from the hair of a dead man and wandering along the pillows. What disturbed me after that was not the fear of death but embarrassment that lice would escape my head too in the presence of all my relatives at my wake. But in primary school in Barranquilla, I did not realize I was crawling with lice until I had infected the entire family. Then my mother gave me another proof of her character. She disinfected her children one by one with insecticide for cockroaches, in thorough cleansings that she baptized with a name of noble lineage: the police. The problem was that the sooner we clean than we began to crawl again, because I became reinfected at school. Then my father decided to use drastic remedies and she forced me to have my head shaved. It was an act of heroism to appear at school on Monday wearing a cloth cap, but I survived the mockery of my classmates with honor and completed the final year with highest grades.

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