EXCERPT FROM ADRIANA PARAMO’S MY MOTHERS FUNERAL
After eleven clandestine visits during which he wouldn’t dare hold her hand, he professed his love in writing, as custom dictated. To write the perfect love letter, Mr. B. needed only two things: a typewriter and a typist. Inspiration and finesse were two things he didn’t lack. After traveling hundreds of miles he found what he was looking for: the best typewriter in the whole state of Tolima, a Deluxe Model 5 Remington portable, and the best typist, an educated schoolteacher affected by leprosy, who would have written a wonderful book had it not been for the rinds falling from his hands and face, which kept the keys of his typewriter jammed most of the time.
At first, Carmen kept the trifold letter in the pocket of her dress, then under her apron; and after that, she moved it closer to her heart, propped under her brassiere. At night, while her sister Gilma stood guard, she read the letter that started with “Dear Señorita.” She choked up; her eyes welled with tears as she read the first paragraph. It wasn’t easy. The words rhymed, took unpredictable twists and turns, playing games with her head in ways she had never thought words were capable of. If these words come from his heart, she thought, which country is his heart from, and what is its national language? And why is it that whatever he writes or says makes me dizzy, even if I don’t understand it?
That night, she fell asleep repeating in her head those written words that would make her heart skip a beat so many times during the next fifty years. Cuando usted me mira, me siento transportado al cielo de Mahoma enardecido levemente en ópalo y topacio. Whenever you look at me, I feel transported to Mohammed’s heaven, lightly engulfed by opal and topaz. She surrendered, not to the meaning of the words, which she couldn’t grasp, but to their finesse, to the conviction that a man capable of writing such a convoluted declaration of love was surely capable of loving a woman with the purest of hearts.
Adriana Páramo is a Colombian anthropologist winner of the Social Justice and Equality Award in creative nonfiction with her book Looking for Esperanza. Her writing has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Los Angeles Review, Consequence Magazine, Fourteen Hills, Carolina Quarterly Review, Magnolia Journal, So To Speak, Compass Rose, and Phati’tude, among others. Páramo has volunteered her time as a transcriber forVoice of Witness, a book series which empowers those affected by social injustice.
This week’s Wardrobe Best Dressed was selected Nicole Oquendo. Nicole Oquendo is an Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications, and the Nonfiction Editor of Best of the Net. Her most recently published essays and poetry can be found in DIAGRAM, fillingStation, Storm Cellar, and Truck.