Monday, September 28, 2009


In keeping with a deep-seated family custom, Julio's sexual initiation was negotiated, at ten thousand pesos, with Isidora, with cousin Isidora, who after a point was no longer called Isidora, nor was she Julio's cousin. All the men in the family had been with Isidora, who was still young, with miraculous hips and a certain leaning towards romanticism, who agreed to attend to them, although she was no longer what is referred to as a whore, a whore-whore: now, and she always strove to make this clear, she worked as a lawyers secretary.

At the age of fifteen Julio met cousin Isidora, and he continued to meet with her during the years that followed, in the context of special gifts, when he insisted on it enough, or when his father's brutality abated and, as a result, the period came known as the period of fatherly remorse, immediately followed by the period of fatherly guilt, whose most fortunate consequence was economic generosity. It goes without saying the Julio nearly fell in love with Isidora, that he cared for her, and that she, briefly moved by the young reader who dressed in black, treated him better than the others she was with, that she spoiled him, that she educated him, in a fashion.

Only at the age of twenty did Julio begin to approach women his age as potential lovers, with limited success but enough to decide to leave Isidora. To leave her, of course, in the same way one quits smoking or gambling at the racetrack. It wasn't easy, but months before that second night with Emilia, Julio already considered himself free of the vice.

That second night, then, Emelia was in competition with a unique rival, although Julio never went so far as to compare them, in part because there was no possible comparison and also due to the fact that Emelia turned out to become, officially, the only love of his life, and Isidora, barely, an old and agreeable source of pleasure and suffering. When Julio fell in love with Emelia all the pleasure and suffering previous to the pleasure and suffering that Emelia brought him turned into simple imitations of true pleasure and suffering.

{From Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra}

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