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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 60

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Monday 15th January 1990

“I think he looks like you. Don’t you, Dad?”

Julieta Burán was moved: that little being was almost certainly her brother. She had always wanted one, but not in such unpleasant circumstances. They were in the “Garden Clinic”, right in the centre of Mar del Plata. They had entered surreptitiously, asking in the infirmary which of the children was Juana Artigas’s son. So they saw him, a little boy gestated in only eight months, who looked very healthy. He hadn’t inherited the Moorish appearance of his mother, which Roberto was glad about; he had brown hair like him and his skin wasn’t as dark as Juana’s.

“You’re right, Julieta,” said Burán, “he looks like me.”

He was visibly moved, he hadn’t yet assimilated the impact: his son had been born. Since Alicia had told him the truth, he had been waiting for this moment, but he felt the blow just the same. He and Julieta were crying in a tender embrace.

“I feel uncomfortable,” he thought, “I’m playing an unusual role: I’m no less than the father of this kid and yet I’m gazing upon him like a thief, furtively and in secret. This boy they want to attribute to me obviously has my blood. The story of my ancestors will be engraved in his genes; I can see family features in his face, familiar gestures. The battle will be very hard, I’ll have to be strong, I must stop Juana getting away with it, disturbing the development of this child. Her influence will be terrible; unless I do something, my son will learn to hate me, to consider me a soulless father, a mere debtor with a child maintenance allowance. I don’t want him to become an unscrupulous person like his mother, I can’t stand that idea...”

Julieta Burán had accompanied her father voluntarily; she wanted to back him up, to give him affection in this difficult situation; what’s more, she was curious, she wanted to see her brother.

Julieta is a sensitive, lucid teenager, always ready with an answer. Introverted, she doesn’t show her feelings easily, although she has very deep ones. A pleasant affection binds her to her parents; this helped her take their divorce without being psychologically harmed to any real extent. She’s attractive, of medium build, with very white skin and light eyes. She is not characterised by an overflowing sensuality, although she’s not lacking in that department. She reacts energetically against external aggression and has a firm will and a strong character. She is proud, hurt when offended and never forgets a betrayal. She has a natural attitude towards sex, but she respects it. She is modern, elegant and fond of reading. Like her father, she is propelled by an insatiable desire to better herself. She has never censured Roberto’s behaviour, she is naturally tolerant and loves him too much to place limits on him or subject him to pressure. She didn’t object to his relationship with Alicia, although she had a feeling that the enormous age difference was an unavoidable obstacle. Her father was the first one to acknowledge it, therefore she accepted the relationship without worrying much. She was pleased he was happy. When she found out about the extortion he was suffering, she was immediately by his side. Father and daughter are intimately interwoven, the dialogue between them is fluid and substantial.

When they left the clinic, both of them were down; it was unusual to see such a close family member clandestinely, as if it were a stranger. The visit had left them with a bitter taste; they went to have a coffee in a nearby tearoom.

“Dad, haven’t you seen any more of Alicia?”

“No, why do you ask?”

“No reason. Does it bother you to talk about her. I’ll change the subject if you like.”

“It doesn’t bother me, Julieta; I don’t think I should avoid it. It’s vital to face up to reality... To tell the truth, I’m afraid of bumping into her; I don’t know what might happen. At first, when I found out what she’d done, something died inside me. I was surprised to find that I didn’t feel anything for her, not even rancour, just indifference. Intuition told me that this feeling was a subconscious defence mechanism, that I didn’t want to suffer. I wasn’t wrong. Look, now I’m slowly beginning to feel things. It’s as if I was rediscovering Alicia, I reclaim moments, experiences, her behaviour... I carry her with me.”

“Do you still love her, Dad?”

“I don’t know, everything’s changed, no matter how much it hurts; it’s like seeing that a beloved object has broken: you might suffer, try to stick it back together, but it’ll never be the same again.”

“I’ve got something to tell you: Alicia came to see me two days ago.”

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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