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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 57

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
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“Look, Rocío, I wouldn’t even have told my confessor as many private things as I’ve told you today. I don’t feel the need to hold anything back. What’s more, this conversation does us good, let us say it’s a bilaterally concerted therapy; by means of tacit consent, don’t you agree?”

“There you are,” she said with a smile, “the good thing about conversations between lawyers is that everything’s understood, even difficult things. Going back to what I was saying, as I can see you’re so broadminded, I was wondering whether you apply your teachings in your private life, more specifically... You, Burán, who appears so liberal, were you liberal with Alicia? It sounds like you loved her very much...”

“I was, and I loved her, it’s difficult to describe how. Each sentiment has a differentiating nuance, a special content. I felt many things for Alicia, for me she was a harmonious blend of child and woman, sensual and affectionate. She had me trapped, passionate, as happy as a young man. On the other hand, she was like a daughter, or a young niece; I looked after her, I was sincerely worried about her future, without wanting to bind her to myself. From the outset of our relationship, I made things clear. She always knew she was free, that she could leave my life whenever she wanted. I helped her financially so that she could exercise her self-determination. I didn’t want to subjugate her with my money. If she was with me, I always wanted it to be because she really wanted it. If I hadn’t yearned for her happiness, I wouldn’t have loved her well. If she had fallen in love with another man, which was quite foreseeable, I would have been satisfied in a way. The age difference between us was big, I supposed that could happen. It’s natural that a young girl, sooner or later, is tempted to seek out contact with other young people like herself... Primarily, I wanted, and still want, her happiness.”

“Am I to suppose that you still love her?” asked Rocío.

“No. Well, to be honest I don’t know, I don’t think so anymore... I don’t think about Alicia so much now, neither do I wake up agitated when I dream about her. I think the blow I received when I found out affected the image I’d formed. It was as if she had collapsed before my eyes. I don’t bear her any grudges. In spite of everything, I think she told me the truth, she’s shown herself to be selfless more than once. Our relationship simply fractured, the glass cracked. How to fix it? Impossible, these things have no solution. I still have the memory of her, I often relive the beautiful moments we shared. I’m very lucky to have been able to live them. I can’t see life giving me another opportunity to have such a nice experience.”

“He still loves her,” thought Rocío, “he talks as if I no longer existed, he doesn’t care about me. It’s obvious he isn’t attracted to me. Why does that bother me? After all, we hardly know each other, we’ve no obligation to feel anything...”

“I deduce that you’ve thrown in the towel,” she said ironically. “I suppose nothing emotional will ever happen to you again? It doesn’t fit in with what you said before...”

“Rocío,” said Roberto with deliberate sweetness, “it’s obvious that you’re a brilliant lawyer! You’re used to interpreting each expression meticulously. Bear in mind that I’m a human being, be more benevolent with me. When I talk about Alicia, I can’t help becoming melancholic. Remember that until a few days ago we had a joint project. Although perhaps it was a transitory one, nevertheless it was important. The emptiness that Alicia filled became unoccupied again. It’s not the same as before, because I still keep the warmth she left in my soul. It has left me ready to go on loving; that’s the most wonderful gift I could have hoped for. I’m not resentful, I have nothing to reproach her for. I know that what she did can’t be justified. She wasn’t guilty. It was this cruel society that leaves poor teenagers like her sister Mabel without any kind of shelter. Our strict, rigid morals, which nobody complies with, but which are preached so widely. They say actors are neurotic because they live their lives pretending; in this country, as in many others, we are all compulsive frauds. The ethical double standards have been socially accepted. We ought to make the effort to establish more humane rules which could be obeyed. They are broken indiscriminately now, superfluous rules as well as the really essential ones.”

“You haven’t answered me, doctor. So, have you thrown in the towel?”

“If I must think it through specifically, I tell you with the firmest conviction, no. The capacity to love that I still have allows me to be hopeful. On the other hand, I’m not going to be satisfied just by having it, I’m going to act to produce positive results. I sincerely believe that I will love again, perhaps more than once. But I also know that whatever relationship I enter into, I must confront it without preconceptions and avoid the search for something from the past. Comparisons are horrible and negative. Luckily, each person is a universe; we must explore the hearts of the people that come close to us and look for good things. The circumstances are so different... For example, our conversation, so pleasant, you can’t imagine how different it is to the ones I used to have with Alicia. She didn’t talk too much, she generally listened to me, she considered me a kind of family member who played the part of teacher, guide and lover. With you, on the other hand, the situation is diametrically opposite: I find an interlocutor who examines my ideas, disputes them, analyses them critically. It makes me think more, express my thought s better, to go deeper into subjects. In short, it enriches me. And all of this, which is very positive, without renouncing the delight of being close to a beautiful woman.”

Rocío blushed uncontrollably; her face was bathed in perspiration, she didn’t know what to say or do.

“How can I stop him becoming aware of my confusion?” she thought. “He’ll think I’m silly, that I lose control easily. It doesn’t make sense to pretend, he’s already noticed everything...”

Rocío resigned herself to being shown up, but beyond aesthetics, beyond the emotions she was making ostensible, she felt deeply comforted. She had managed to feel; it was a beneficial fire, a friendly shudder.

“What a good man he is!” said Rocío to herself. “That one feeling justifies the night.”

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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