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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 55

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
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“I hope you’re right, I hope I’m not suffering from an incurable defect, a lack of affection that prevents me feeling.”

“No, not at all, I’m sure. Believe me, I’m not wrong.”

Rocío blushed again and quickly changed the subject.

“And what about you, have you ever come close to getting married again?”

“No, I’ve met a lot of women, the majority excellent, who did me a lot of good. But it wasn’t such a big thing, marriage is very serious, it’s too much. In my case, I feel as if I’m back in the game. Up until recently I didn’t have the strength to begin again. I wanted to live in peace, I wasn’t prepared to get up in the middle of the night to comfort a baby, or to raise one.”

“Until recently?” asked Rocío.

“Yes,” answered Burán, “it’s ironic, but true. Now it’s possible that I’ll have to devote myself to raising a child that I never dreamt of having. If I get custody of the child, it will be a difficult task. In any case, whatever my situation, I’d like to be able fall in love again.”

“You’re afraid of remarrying, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Not afraid, but at this stage of my life I wouldn’t agree to a classical, socially conditioned marriage. I wouldn’t have been able to think like that twenty years ago, but now I’m beyond conventionality. I’d need a more authentic form of bonding, based on freedom, not on legal or social ties. Unless there were children, I’d only accept a free relationship with plenty of fresh air. Spontaneity should be a constant, and not an exception. I wouldn’t make demands on my wife, I think that’s selfish, brutal. I wouldn’t subject her to morally violent situations, to absurd subjection. I’d prefer my partner to have intellectual and economic independence. Otherwise it would be easy for her to allow herself to be dominated, to feel more comfortable without exercising her freedom. That’s what usually happens... You’ll never have this problem, Rocío.”

“Yes, but it’s not that simple. I’d have to find a man who thought like you, who wasn’t a male chauvinist. And there are additional complications, life together must also have its rules; if there are none, if there are no limits, it falls very close to lack of affection.”

“Of course, Rocío, rules are present in every relationship, but not the archaic ones imposed on us by Catholic morality. Instead, there should be new ones, arising form pure humanism. Rules that allow lovers to fulfil themselves, with suffocating them, without tying them to strict or impossible conduct.”

“You remind me of an old client,” said Rocío, “she never wanted to get married, she said that she went through life holding hands with a man, knowing that either of them could be free, with just one movement, that’s why she was so happy... She thought getting married chained the partners, that it imprisoned them. Of course, it’s not quite like that, because a certificate doesn’t guarantee anything. However, many people still think that marriage maintains itself, without day-to-day effort. In that respect, my client was right, there’s a negative psychological effect.”

“That’s true,” said Burán, “I speak from personal experience.”

“You? So independent? I wouldn’t have guessed it. Would you find a simple certificate an obstacle?”

“I did when I was young; now it strikes me as silly, of course. More than a simple document, children place limitations on me... To be honest, I believe that for them, it’s our obligation to behave more responsibly, to take care of the ties that bind. To protect them, I would try to understand my partner better, to grant her greater freedom. I would even be permissive in certain areas. Above all else, I would respect my wife’s privacy, demanding equal consideration.”

“Forgive me,” said Rocío, “do you really think it’s that simple? I don’t think so. I see it in my office every day. Spoilt, lazy, ignorant young girls, endlessly chauvinistic. Vain, inexpert, proud or subjugated young girls. But I can assure you, I can’t remember many evolved couples, like the one you describe. I wonder if they exist? There can’t be very many.”

“There aren’t many,” he stated. “I didn’t say there were many, nor that it was easy to put what I say into practice; on the contrary, it’s very difficult. You have to overcome jealousy, an atavistic feeling that drives us crazy. Many people are irritated by statements like this; they say that matrimony is holy, while they violate its laws in secret. I can’t stand this hypocrisy in which our society lives at all levels. And the worst thing is it’s impossible to get away from; at least totally. I’m no exception, I admit. I’ve also lived following a double code, I adapted myself to the system.”

“It’s more difficult for women than for men,” added Rocío, “the rules of society are more demanding for them.”

“That’s right,” agreed Roberto, “the family is no exception. Look, if the husband is unfaithful, unwritten rules state that his conduct is tolerated. The infidelity of women, on the other hand, is not given such a wide berth.”

“It’s true, unfair but true. Historically, it’s always been that way. Our sex has always been oppressed, relegated to the background. But what can we do about it? Isn’t it a fact of life?”

“Yes, doctor, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change it. When women couldn’t avoid getting pregnant, greater restrictions were justified. Now, with the generalised availability of contraceptives, it can’t be allowed. She can act sexually with complete security, if she takes precautions.”

“Well, we don’t live in a world like that, it’s simply not the case...”

“Do you know why not, Rocío?”

“No, why not?”

“Because that’s how we were brought up; men have been given more freedom. They are considered the hunter, the dictator of their home, the one who brings home the bacon. The female, on the other hand, can give birth. She has been instructed to carefully conserve the legitimacy of the children. To assign to a man another’s child has always been an irreparable offence, the cause of irresolvable conflicts.”

“I don’t think your point of view is wrong,” she said, “reason shows us that there are no longer motives to establish differences and, if there were any, it would be insignificant.”

“Yes, but let’s be honest... I myself seem so convinced, but should the moment arrive, I would have to make an effort to overcome my wounded pride, my anger. It wouldn’t be easy to accept, simply because from a young age society has bombarded me with rigid, male chauvinist ideas. They instilled in me the idea that the male sex has hegemony over the female.”

“Doctor, don’t you think you can get over it with the use of reason? Can’t you get rid of unfounded, absurd beliefs?”

“Yes, I can, but it’s not that easy. It’s like religion, although I’m an agnostic, the sight of a cross always has an impact on me. I wouldn’t be surprised if I beg God for my life shortly before dying. We’re conditioned, schematised. That’s why, doctor, when I refer to your past, that you’re not satisfied with it, I said that the most important thing is that you haven’t lost your capacity to feel. Only that way can you go about slowly exiling the vestiges of an education that castrates and induces stupidity, which nearly all of us have received.”

“I don’t know, I think I prefer to be more classical in that respect. I don’t understand so many complications, thinking about things so much. I don’t know if I’d be in shape to start a relationship with so much scheming; it would be like starting out based on mistrust, like making feelings less important.”

“It’s not like that,” said Roberto; “on the contrary, it’s simply taking support from the truth, from knowledge. It’s never bad to be informed. Do you think information should be hidden?”

“No,” she said, “it’s always useful when making the right decision.”

“There’s a lot of lying, Rocío, when two people swear eternal fidelity, it’s a white lie. How could they be completely sure? They also lie when they state that they’ll accompany the other until death parts them. Rocío, tell me if this isn’t the height of hypocrisy... They besmirch the union from the outset, although as a poet would say, ‘the perjury of love should not be condemned’. Nobody can guarantee their affection, it’s absurd, childish. We’re no longer kids, we should face reality, take it on board according to our specific situation.”

“Excuse me, doctor, I think you’re too demanding. I think a passionate promise can be allowed, it’s implicit that the future could discredit it. If you consider it metaphorical, everything becomes more understandable.”

“Of course, Rocío, if it were so, I’d be in agreement, but don’t forget that the Church takes us for a ride with the single, indissoluble matrimony. This is different, it presupposes that that promise must be adhered to, whether we like it or not.”

“You yourself, Burán, said to me recently that the marriage must be carefully protected when there are children.”

“Of course, but not fanatically, without acknowledging limits or special circumstances. When living together becomes impossible, when the children themselves suffer, divorce is the most civilised option. There’s no doubt about that, I only object to superficiality, nothing more.”

“But don’t you believe that love can last? Isn’t it possible? I think it is.”

“Of course, Rocío, don’t think I’m such an unbeliever... Fortunately, there are wonderful examples. But in order to judge a relationship or a feeling, we have to look back, never towards the future. Until it reaches its conclusion, no one can predict success. We mutate, transforming ourselves over the years... The persistence of love occurs on exceptional occasions; it’s necessary for both members of the couple to evolve simultaneously and in parallel. Isn’t it common for them to take opposite paths?”

“Yes, doctor, it’s frequent in couples who get married very young, who have not completed their individual development. After a few years, they usually turn into strangers.”

“Exactly, another reason to demand more, when there are children. In these cases, the relationship should be structured around a basis of a few fundamental principles. I reiterate: there has to be ample freedom.”

“The problem is that the exercise of liberty demands great sensitivity,” said Rocío, pulling a doubtful face. “Aren’t religious and moral rules useful for those who lack sensitivity?”

“They could be useful to avoid a separation,” he answered, “but totally useless to make them happy... Only by being free can a man and a woman build a stable relationship, based on love, on companionship, on spiritual communion. Strong and agreeable ties that are not easily destroyed by the fires of passion. Even politically, the benefits of freedom can be seen. Let’s take the example of the communist countries... What good has repression been, prohibition, excessive control? I’ll tell you, Rocío: absolutely none. On the contrary, all interdiction, unless it has a reasonable base, will be ignored. I think the tolerance I advocate defends the family institution; if we behave otherwise, we’ll be indirectly promoting divorce, even though we think we’re criticising it. Either we defend the family, making marriage sincere, more human, more flexible, or we resign ourselves to attending its death.”

“But, Doctor, it seems difficult to me to sustain a family just for the children, I don’t like your words. It has been shown that they suffer much more psychologically living together in a home with conflicts than the separation of their parents. You seem to fanatically recommend the persistence of the couple, even if it’s necessary to turn to machiavellian behaviour. I don’t agree.”

“It’s not like that, Rocío; I’ve already made it clear in a way. Don’t get angry, I admit that sometimes it’s impossible to conciliate feelings with duty. I’m not opposed to divorce, in fact I’ve been through it once. I’m only saying that couples with children should give themselves more breathing space, respect their privacy more. Nothing else. Is it so very monstrous?”

“No, perhaps the only thing you’re doing is describing reality. The thing is, it’s so hard...”

“Do you know why you think that? Because that’s how you were brought up. Your parents didn’t go into these matters, perhaps they didn’t even analyse the difficulties of marriage, the false behaviour. If they had explained it to you when you were a child, now you’d be able to accept it with amazing ease. It’s difficult because you analyse my words in the light of cultural conditioning. Those unconscious beliefs, so deeply rooted, can’t be removed without great pain. It requires a great effort. We both agree that it’s very tricky to exercise freedom. We acknowledge that it demands the suppression of a powerful, hostile, violent feeling: jealousy. Rocío, this will always be better than trying to subject something as generous and beneficial as love to tyranny.”

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