24 Sep The Confidant of Little Girls By Ney Yépez
The Confidant of Little Girls
By Ney Yépez Cortés/Translation by Tom Larsen and Rick Segreda
Pine tree, don’t sigh, before the wind of dawn!
Moon, that casts its shadow on Earth, hide!
Silence! Silence! Oak, Ash and Hawthorn.
That the water fall until the morning comes!
The little girl came running towards me to show me her hurt hand. She told me that she’d fallen from her bicycle and had come to me to relieve her pain. She just put her hand on my rough body and her crying stopped. She perceived, with the purity of her innocent heart, the magic I held inside me. That is why she would come to me to tell me her little problems that I would try to solve, silently and humbly.
It had been a long time since I had such joy, although I think of it as if it were yesterday, when her mother similarly came to me, being just a little girl, to cry or laugh surrounding me with her arms. This is a scene that has been repeated over the years.
I was the confidant of mothers and daughters, who would later then be the mothers of other daughters, of whom I would be the secret confessor in due time, in what seemed like a perpetual cycle. With the passing of the years I knew their falls, their scrapes, their cries and laughter, their first caresses and their secret loves.
I saw them come into the world, grow, and then leave, like the rain and the drought. Years later they returned to the old family house and visited me with their young daughters in their arms. They formally presented them to me, and this was a custom that was maintained for six generations.
I had the good fortune to live in a family deeply attached to their traditions. I grew until birth with this physical form when they were still raising the walls of the old country house. I remember the workers with their picks and shovels, raising thick adobe walls, laying brick and spreading on the plaster, placing green tiles on the wooden roof, and molding a stone basin now filled with red, purple, and yellow flowers.
At first when the girls of this family grew and then left, a deep sadness overwhelmed me. A fathomless void remained in my heart when I no longer heard the laughter of the small ones that ran around me and climbed into my arms. My arms…these old and knotty arms that were always willing to caress their faces and their dreams.
Over time, I was bequeathed the wisdom of my ancestors and the immense patience of their lineage. I understood the inexorable laws of life, with all its generosity and also its apparent cruelty. The race of my ancestors lived in this world, from the night of time, in the form of free spirits who wandered at their whim through valleys and forests.
When the men appeared we took refuge in places away from the noise and civilization. The cities flourished and the fields were transformed, but we were safe because they regarded us imaginary beings that lived only in legends and folktales.
Some of us took physical form in order to coexist with men, without them discovering our true nature. When we ceased to be elemental spirits and took on the properties of living beings, we were subject to the passage of time. Over the years our knowledge grows and our powers increase, but we age and eventually die, disappearing physically, but returning as ethereal beings.
For centuries it was thought that we were immortal because of the longevity of our physical form. It took me many years to understand the cycle of life and death, the two inevitable and perpetual conditions of the existence of human beings. All this time has taught me something, not even death can be more frightening than oblivion, this dusty ghost descending on me and all the things that surround me.
For years the house looked like a shell of its ancient self, as if it were an old trunk of dried-up memories. The family no longer meets on the weekend in its wide corridors and lounges, and the children no longer scampered through the secret garden that has been my home for decades. Grass grew in a careless manner and the birds left due to the absence of the definitive peaceful solitude that these walls contained.
The city grew and this is no longer the magnificent house of yesteryear. It is now a dilapidated hindrance that clashes with the winds of modernity blowing everywhere. Large buildings have been built outside the walls of my home, and many cars speed by in front of the porch.
Now I am old and tired and I feel that my time is coming. However, I am sure that I will not die through the accumulation of years, as was my conviction until recently. One day I realized that time modifies the forms of closing men’s existence and has turned them practical, no longer attached to romantic visions. In this world I believe that I have no place.
The visit of the little girl who came today in order to relieve the pain of her hand will be possibly the last. After leaving me, I saw her run and hug her father’s leg, the young heir of this noble family, he who reviewed plans with an architect. From time to time the two at looked with disdain at the place I am at.
Very soon, I know that someone will come to kill me with a power saw or an axe, and no one will remember that that ancient tree that was planted in the back of the courtyard of the old family house was the confidant of the girls, and the discreet witness of their fleeting existence.