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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 36

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos

They got up at ten o’clock in the morning and had a succulent breakfast, planning to skip lunch; their idea was to go out fishing in a boat until nightfall. They cast off at midday even though it was not the best time for fishing. To tell the truth, they weren’t all that bothered, what they most wanted was to enjoy the sunshine the day was lavishing on them. Not a breath of wind, nor a cloud to obscure the splendid light of the day. They went straight to the far shore, which they had admired from the window shortly before. Nearby was the mouth of a little stream that Burán always remembered, the Chañi. They sailed nearly four miles to get there, passing the numerous islands that rise up along the way like portentous milestones. When they arrived, Roberto stopped the boat’s motor about a hundred and fifty feet from the beach and said sweetly to Alicia:

“Look, dear, this is the ideal time to look at the bottom of the lake, the sun’s rays are coming straight down. The absolute calm turns the waters into a gigantic mirror that faithfully reflects mountains and forests. Observe a little and you’ll notice that there’s a true duplication of the landscape. If we took a photo, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish clearly what’s real and what’s reflected.”

“You’re right, Roberto, I hadn’t noticed, it’s like a gigantic postcard.”

“Much more than that, dear. Here we can feel this wild aroma, the synthesis of all the life that surrounds us. We can enjoy the caresses of the air, of this warm sun which warms our blood. It’s like being integrated with nature, like being part of a palpitating, immense world, perhaps hostile, but incomparably beautiful. This peace... I’ve never found it anywhere except here. Look over there, those are avutarda, swimming with their young to teach them. Further away, that island you can see on the left, is Cabrón Island. When I was young it was almost a sacred place, we thought we were sure to get a bite. That long mountain is called the Sleeping Beauty; at its foot is a hotel of the same name, next to the shores of Lake Moquegüe. That closer one, which is like a pot, is the volcano Batea Mahuida. Inside it there’s a looking glass pool of water without any fish. At the tip of that long peninsula that you can see to the west, is the most fascinating place in the region. It’s a narrow cove, a clean inlet of water. You can enter it comfortably in a launch. The bow runs aground in the beach, it sinks into the white sand, without the motor’s proppeller blades touching the bottom. It’s a dreamlike place, surrounded by stone cliffs splashed with vegetation. From the high part you can see a lot of the coast, the islands on the right and the whole of the bottom of the bay. The panorama is splendid. In addition, as the wind always comes from the west, the mountain provides shelter. It’s never cold there, there’s never even a slight breeze. When the sun’s out, it becomes an oven and even the lake gets warm. It’s one of those places you dream about. Although I’m against becoming a slave to things or the past, I must admit I love that miniature paradise. When I found it, you could only get there on foot or by water. Now a dirt track leads to the tip, my shelter is no longer the same; it’s been invaded by hordes of tourists. They leave rubbish, cans, they muck everything up. They damage my trees, the redoubt no longer has the same enchantment it had before... It lost its virginity, but I still love it, Alicia. Despite everything, it’s still wonderful. I perceive much more than the visible in it, images of a distant past populated with absences... On the shore of the cove, my daughter when she was little, with her tummy protruding from under her t-shirt. My mother, afraid of getting out of the launch, the exquisite grilled trout, so many moments, the happy days of my youth. This place is like a memory chest. Visiting it is like opening it and looking at old photographs. It brings me to tears... Tomorrow I’ll take you to see it, I want you to see it.”

“I’d love to go,” said Alicia, caressing the back of his neck, “I already love it through you.”

“There’s good fishing near this shore we’re almost touching. You’ve got to know just where the shallows finish. Just where it gets deeper, but not too much, that’s where the bait must go. That’s why the handling of the launch is fundamental; you need the ability to calculate the exact spot to turn, shift down a gear, to get closer or further away from the shore. Look down, you can see the bottom of the lake perfectly. There, look! Can you see them? Several trout swimming away from the boat, they’re losing themselves amongst the submerged branches, disappearing in the darkness of the depths. Those tracks you can see in the sand, like insignificant lines, are made by tiny water snails, there’s one, can you make it out?”

Alicia was filled with wonder by everything she saw. Following the evasive fish with her eyes, she said, “Incredible! How clear it is, I want to touch them.”

“Don’t think they’re that close, dear,” said Roberto embracing her tenderly, “it’s a mere illusion. Distances under water can be tricky. Here, as you can see, it must be many feet deep. These clear and clam days are unbeatable. Because the rays of the sun fall directly down, it’s possible to see under the water from the surface. It’s exciting to analyse the formation of the submerged terrain. I’ve gone diving here sometimes, you can’t imagine how beautiful it is.”

“I didn’t know you liked fishing so much,” she said.

“Fishing in general doesn’t knock me out, but this is different because it allows you to enjoy the surroundings to the full, to abandon yourself completely to contemplation. While the launch moves slowly, you can contemplate every tree, every stone, every shadow. I swear that sometimes I haven’t wanted a bite. The tranquillity of spirit gained in these places is so great that sometimes everything else can seem secondary. Of course, it’s not always like that. I admit that catching a trout is exciting, I assure you it’s something you have to experience. And we’re going to now!”

“What are you doing Roberto? What’s that thing you threw in the water?”

“Nothing less than carefully selected bait, dear, a red caiman that intuition tells me my lovely prey will fancy. Don’t worry, you’ll use this silver and red spool; I’ve got a lot of faith in it.”

He started the boat up, accelerating the motor as both of them let the nylon of their respective reels out; then he slowed down, letting the line tense. His caiman worked splendidly, the tip of the fibre glass rod trembled with the right rhythm. Alicia’s did so with a horizontal movement. Everything was working correctly, the only thing left was to wait for the friendly trout to bite.

“Alicia,” said Roberto, full of expectation, “why don’t we make ourselves comfortable? We’re going to roast like this. What’s more, I want to enjoy the sight of your thighs, your breasts, you’re so lovely... It’s great having you here with me, I feel so happy, like when I was a boy, or maybe happier... Now I value these moments enormously, because I know that before long they’ll belong to a new yesterday. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll feel the same nostalgia for this ephemeral present that I feel now for the distant past. I relish every moment, I enjoy every place, every word, every kiss, every detail. The miracle of being with you, of feeling so alive. To go through my fifties by the side of a girl I love and desire. What more could I ask of life? Nothing, I assure you...”

The breeze carried the wild fragrance of the mountains, which he inhaled greedily, filling his lungs with pure, warm air.

“Come on, beautiful, get your swimsuit on, otherwise you’re going to die of heat. But use sunscreen, the sun’s a killer. You’ll peel down to your bones if you don’t look after yourself, believe me, I speak with the voice of experience.”

Translation: Peter Miller (© 2002)
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Copyright ©Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990
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Date of publicationJuly 2002
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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