By Eddy Montilla.
(Taken from the book True stories told as fiction)
“Does not common sense tell you that smoke can bother your neighbours?”
“Yes, it does.” Ramón answered, “but each inconvenience always comes with something good behind. Take a look!”, He said and quickly removed part of the burnt leaves and twigs that covered three sweet potatoes.
“Now that you are here, please wait for a couple of minutes and take one for your husband and you.” Ramón told her with his warm smile.
“No, thanks! It is enough that the smoke does not reach my house!” Sarah shouted at him and before Ramón could say something, she was already heading to her house, walking over round white stones placed in strategic positions, like soldiers during a war, to not step on the lawn of the garden.
“If what this man eats is only sweet potatoes, I wouldn’t be surprised if his brain were full of leaves.” She muttered.
Sarah told her husband at night about the smoke. The following evening about the noisy sound made by him when he was chopping logs, then on how horrible he sang when he’s working on his field and so on. Thus, with the arrival of the new day, a new complaint came at night. On Sunday, the only day off Robert had, his wife asked him to talk to Ramón about all her altercations with him. At that time, like before, smoke rose from Ramón’s house. For Sarah, that day was the worst day she had had since they moved to that house because Robert went to Ramón’s house with a face as long as a fiddle, but after talking to him less than 30 minutes, he came back home smiling and… with a piece of sweet potato in his hands!
“Cursed be the day I came to this house and saw that man!” Sarah said.
“Ramón is a mere farmer who, by the way, is very kind. I’m not asking you to be his friend, but I see no reason whatsoever for so much hatred and despair. If you do not accept him as a neighbor, at least take him out of your mind, Sarah, out of your mind.”
But it was far too late for that. Even the slightest thing Ramón did irritated her and in order to be full aware of all of them, she put the armchair facing Ramón’s field and spent hours watching him from there. One morning, before Robert going to work, Sarah stared at him furiously.
“This man is driving me crazy, Robert. Talk to him again or I will not be held responsible for what I could do.”
In his 15 years and something of marriage with Sarah, Robert had never seen her so annoyed.
“A woman in love thinks silly things; a jealous woman does silly things, but from an angry woman, nobody knows what to expect. This situation is slipping from my grasp.” He thought.
“This Sunday, I will speak with him again. Until that, remember what I have told you: Don’t let him in. Get this man out of your head, Sarah”. Having that said, he went to his work.
Ramón’s work day began early, as usual. Around eleven, he suddenly stopped picking his green peppers, looked at the sky, took his shirt off and rushed to wash it with some other clothes he had inside an old basket.
Ramón did not belong to the category of “the handsome of the neighbourhood”, but he had an attractive and kind smile, which was in part for the beautiful whiteness of his teeth. He was not muscular either. However, the contours of his body were all sketched as if his figure had been moulded in clay by a great sculptor. He was only 26, but because of the bumps in the road of life, looked much older. He neither got married nor had children for only one reason: He only loved one woman in his entire life and loved her with all his heart to a point that instead of putting limits to love, he put them to his head. She was too much beautiful and conceited to tell him “yes” and he was too much naïve to understand her “no”.
“My wife is those blossoms you can see there and my children are the fruits that someday will come from them.” He always said to any person who asked him about his family.
“From what I can see, walking undressed from the waist up, you have no respect for other people.” Sarah yelled at him.
Ramón, as he had already done many times, greeted her with a beaming smile and told her: “Can you see those dark clouds? Over there, in the west. It means it’s going to rain and that’s for sure! So I need to wash these shirts quickly. If you are going to wash too, You’d better get down to work now because I guess you both have a lot of clothes. That means that you will need a lot of time to do the laundry and that rain is coming.”
Sarah always went off in a frenzy of rage and despair whenever she saw Ramón’s actions while he was a happy, placid and even-tempered man. Ultimately, rather than his inappropriateness, that was what she really hated most. Sarah spent the rest of the morning sitting on the armchair thinking about Ramón and, just as he had said, early in the afternoon, it was pouring with rain. At 5:20 p.m., Robert got home from work, unusually early; after all, a day of torrential rain is the worst enemy for a job at a dam. He opened the door and said hello, but his words did not receive any answer. It was then that he remembered his wife’s last words:
“This man is driving me crazy, Robert. Talk to him again or I will not be held responsible for what I could do.” (TO BE CONTINUED…)
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