Saturday, September 07, 2013


The plan was hatched, revisited, pondered, and refined many times ever since Dr. Juvenal Urbino asked permission to see her father: Fermina Daza will foil her husband’s attempts to consummate their marriage until the day she only knew --- to be announced by a monthly cycle of a hot flushing feeling peculiar only to women, surrendering at the perfect moment when the blood inside her will start to curdle, which she successful did during their long honeymoon voyage to La Rochelle, her triumph etched in Dr. Juvenal Urbino’s concealed joy on seeing the red blot in the bed sheets as the ultimate proof that he alone took his wife’s chastity. 

But it was Florentino Ariza during one of those futile violin serenades under the balcony of her father’s house in La Manga, a desperate effort to win back the woman he loved and loved him before that fateful trip to Riohacha, when Fermina Daza, in an act of pity more than love, came down, took his hand to her virgin breasts, found themselves in a cold condemned hotel in a place named after a saint where her mouth taught Florentiza Ariza of a more intense pleasure than the final act of copulation, imprisoning him forever to that memory which haunted him to every willing womb he preyed on in an impossible quest to relieve that most blissful moment of his life, even pretending that it was Rosalba who first fulfilled his manhood, searching for that sensual mouth in the sluggishness of Widow Nazaret, in the longevity of Ausencia Santander, the rancour of Sara Noriega, the fatal infidelity of Olimpia Zulueta, in the amorous contradictions of the widows Prudencia and Prudencia and Josefa, in Angeles Alfaro who was nearest to being loved, in the madness and voracity of Andrea Varon, in the pubescence of America Vicuna, and many other others whose faces he had forgotten but whose names are written on a list he keep as an act of vengeance on Fermina Daza. 

They have become one, fated to be apart but destined for each other, for their love at the time of cholera has infected their lives until the day when they will cruise the Magdalena River forever, a destiny preluded by Fermina Daza’s return to La Manga twenty years later to attend to the death of her husband’s mother where she discovered the resilience of that single night, for she shuddered with just knowing that Florentino Ariza still lives, while Florentino Ariza was thrown back into the lost love-struck lover he was many years ago when he learned of Fermrina Daza’s impending marriage to Dr. Juvenal Urbino, the triumph of his countless conquests vaporized by his helplessness, for the fragrance of Fermina Daza never left him since that night in the old hotel. 

Under the dire circumstance of a wake for a dead woman, their eyes met and they knew that they must be together again, their rekindled passion leading them to a newly built hostel with no name where they flung into each other like mortal enemies in combat, kissed like they want to swallow each other alive, Fermina Daza’s mouth doing its magic and Florentino Ariza trembling with insane sensuality like the night when he lost his virginity, the longing and hurting of the last 20 years enmeshed in a deluge of sweat and tears and moans, as Dr. Juvenal Urbino attended to visitors to his mother’s wake nearby...

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