Summer arrived and with it one of our stories that you like so much. We present Camaleón, a story full of passion written by Laura R. Saturday, where a beautiful love of yesteryear seizes the story. Together with the protagonists, Ramón and Dorotea, we will know the true meaning of the sacrifice for the person you love.
We hope you like it!!!
When the news came to us that my grandfather had left the city to move to live in the countryside, we thought his head had ceased to rule well. He never commented that he would retain any property there.
He left behind his past, his position. It was an eminence, he lived surrounded by luxuries and comforts, flattered by some and envied by others. Once the decision was made, he did not bother to take the diplomas from the walls, recognitions deserved for a lifetime, achieved with much dedication and effort.
He only took the portrait of my grandmother Dorotea, whom he fell in love with being both very young, and with whom he shared everything. He hugged him and wrapped him carefully, in the words of the janitor, the only witness of his departure.
"He liked that picture in particular," Mr. Alfredo said shyly, giving us a copy of the key so that we could enter Grandpa's house. I had to close, you know? He didn't bother to do it. He said to give you this note, but don't worry about him, that it would be fine wherever he went. He seemed happy, as he had never seen him for a long time. We were friends, you know? Here alone, so many years ... When my Emiliana also left, our true friendship began. We always liked to imagine that they would be together, chatting about the two of us, knowing with certainty that we would never forget them and that they would continue to be present here, in every corner of our houses.
“His grandfather spoke to the portrait of Doña Dorotea, you know? As if she was still by his side. Any stranger might think that he was gone, but I witnessed, day after day, how much he had loved her and how much he still longed for her. His sanity returned when his memories moved away, and that was when, trying to regain his composure, he told me:
"What, Alfredo, does he make a vermouth and a game?" And that was the beginning of long hours spent between bishops, queens and towers, in complete silence. And so his days went by, until the memories returned again, doing it more and more frequently, but always without warning and surprising him with his guard down. ”
The concierge's words moved us. My grandmother was her life, her "chameleon," as she liked to call her, who gave up her own life by joining him, even if that was not her world. He learned to be a great lady, dear to everyone. His goodness and his knowledge to be worked miracles in the corseted society of the time that both had to live. They were always surrounded by people reluctant to admit in their circle the arrivals from the provinces. If they were also erected as winners among the wealthy, whose fortunes had been given to them from the cradle without any effort, the situation became more delicate. But they knew how to move between them and get ahead.
Grandmother Dorotea, drowned in the cement of the big city, never raised her voice. He was always up to it, whatever the circumstances, but he left too soon.
The disease of sadness consumed her little by little, without anyone noticing, nor were we now able to see that loneliness, slowly, had taken hold of grandfather.
He was returning home.
As every Sunday afternoon, Ramón had appeared at four at the house of Mrs. Sacramento, mother of Dorotea, the Sacra as she was known in the town, greeting her with courtesy:
"Have a good afternoon, Mrs. Sacra."
"May yours be too, son."
- Don Sebastián rests?
"No, son, you don't know what that word means." He has gone out for a while with his tools to work in the garden. With what you bring me, I will prepare a good dinner, which we will have for dinner today. Tell your parents if they want to spend, go, I also prepared some donuts of sugar and wine, that with an anisete make you rejuvenate.
"Take it for granted, woman." Surely mother, with her inseparable cardigan, will take the fresh and donuts with you. The anisete will be a father who will give a good account of him. Prepare to hear him chant his lifelong jacks. It never changes its repertoire. Well, only sometimes leave the jacks to sing for Valderrama. And know that mother has knitted a toquilla for you, being as cold as she is, believe that we all go around giving shivers. Anyway…
The Sacra, who liked to talk more than listen, continued speaking by interrupting Ramón:
—And, as I was saying, son, it will not be because I don't tell Sebas sometimes: “God give me a chance, that one day he will give him something, with this sun that seems willing to leave our bodies without moisture!” But you see , He is like that. Everything seems little, always thinking of everyone before himself. And of course, I do not say that the field is not sacrificed, but he has no measure or end. And it won't be because I don't tell him, but Sebastian ...
At that moment a very young Dorotea appeared who, giving a loud kiss to her mother on the cheek, and with the natural grace with which she always developed, soon recriminated him with a wink of an eye:
"Mother, leave me something to tell me." If you already tell Ramón all the news, this afternoon we will get bored because we will no longer know what to talk about.
"Hate you young people?" The Sacrament continued unstoppable. Come on, Zalamera! You won't have better things to do than tell stories of old men. And don't blush daughter, I've been young too. What a young man your father was when we went to the mall to have a snack and cool off in the river. I remember a day when ...
"Mother, please ...
"You see, daughter, I have no choice, of course, if your father was not so his and so quiet ... March and come back before nightfall." And you, Ramon, "he added with a menacing finger that didn't frighten anyone," treat her well. What if I find out that my girl ...
And throwing his mother a kiss in the air, Dorotea took Ramón by the hand and they both laughed, slamming the door that made the Sacrament startle.
"God, this youth!" What few manners they have! Everything goes, until you leave one with the word in your mouth Do not you think, mother?
He continued his rant, now turning to the portrait of the old Mrs. Micaela who, in life, had been so quiet and selfless that it was hard to imagine that "La Sacra" and Dorotea would carry their same blood.
"Ramon, tell me what happens to you." You've been talking to me all afternoon, thoughtful and absent. I thought we were coming to cool off in the river and, instead, I'm starting to worry. I don't want to see you like that, so sad. Where is that laugh that I like so much, Ramón? What happens so that today you have left it forgotten in the house? Dorotea said that hot July afternoon.
With skirts rolled up to the knees and feet in the water, I expected an answer, but he kept staring at the horizon, surpassing the orchards, and in absolute silence only altered by the words of the young woman.
"Father wants me to go to the city next fall to go to high school." He says that at school Don Matías can no longer teach us and that, without higher education, I will never be a good man. He never left town, I don't understand what this constraint is about. We live great and, besides, I don't want to leave you here, Dorotea, but I can't disobey.
The young woman nodded at the same time that a lump had formed in her throat and the choked words could not break through.
"Mother says that the town is dying and that the young men must carve a future out of these lands," Ramon continued. I know nothing more than these fields, the city is too big for us. It's not fair. We were born here, this is where our people and our livelihood are. Why do they want me to go so far now? What will these young men teach me that I have something to envy to the wisdom of father and grandfather?
Dorotea always imagined that Ramón would work the lands of his family, as did his father, Don Cosme “El Chato”, whom they called that because his little nose contrasted with his great features, and as before the old Tomás Carpio also did, “ Carpi ”, as his neighbors, Ramon's paternal grandfather, knew him.
She was happy there but, at the same time, she did not conceive her life without him. His head was filled with contradictions and tears slipped mute down his cheeks.
Since childhood they had been raised together, sharing games and laughter that later became confidences. With adolescence the first kiss came and in the heat of whispers and fleeting hugs they began to imagine a future together, between fields and cattle.
They lived side by side. At first glance their families and their houses could not be more different, but it had to be a misfortune that united them all.
Dorotea's mother always wanted her house to be a happy house, as she liked to say, with bars looking full of flowery pots and stamped windows that screen the rays of the relentless sun, only pierced by the screaming of the children.
Over time he had to settle for a house adorned with flowers of all imaginable colors and bizarre curtains, as the large family he so longed for never arrived. A complicated pregnancy and a difficult birth meant that she could only give birth to a single daughter.
Next to the door of the Sacra, the house of its neighbors had no flowery windows or striking curtains. If one day he had them, no one remembered them in town. Amalia, Ramón's mother lived in permanent mourning since her firstborn, little Cosme, with only two years of age, died after falling into an irrigation raft, leaving Ramón as an only child when he was only a few months old. He never wanted to have more children, although doctors had advised him that, but she always answered, taciturn and dark, that she did not want to suffer more than necessary.
"If you have one, you suffer for one." If you have more, then the suffering becomes unbearable - he said, wringing his hands and wiping away a tear that escaped from the corner of his eye to end up wetting his black apron.
No one ever managed to convince her and sobriety seized her house and her character. It took many years for Amalia, Malita as her husband affectionately called her, to recover her smile and turn her body and soul into making little Ramón the greatest pride of her life. Even so, its windows continued to reflect the sadness that one day lived, leaving testimony of a misfortune that they could never forget.
Both families came closer after the fatal accident, and that feeling of union, made them always look with good eyes on the relationship between both young people.
"But stop crying, little girl, everything will be solved." Daughter, we can arrange it for you to go with him. He's a good boy and he really loves you, since you were kids.
With these words Mrs. Sacramento tried to encourage her daughter who, with tears, had barely been able to tell her the news.
"Mother, I don't know if I can live out of here." I need to breathe the air of our lands as much as the heat of our sheep, and watch the sun rise and set every day, and the smell of the garden that follows the rain. And be with you and father. There who will comfort me if I'm sad? Who will I tell my things, mother?
Dorotea would have continued to list everything that was part of her life and that she thought would accompany her until the end of her days.
—Dorotea, you know that the field is hard and arranging a good marriage for a daughter is what all parents want. This has been the case for generations and I don't think it will change in the coming decades. And I talk about unions in which love does not count, simply, at best, is born with the touch of each day, but not always. You love that boy as much as he loves you, he will be a good husband. You must consider yourself very lucky, my girl.
"Mother, you always said that after my birth your belly dried up and you were not blessed with more children." Father always wanted a man who never arrived. Who will take care of you if I leave here? What will happen to our farm and our crops? The city is far away. We can only visit them from time to time, in summer, New Year and little else.
-You will always be with us. We will have you present every day, in the lavender of the field, in the wet earth and in every corner of the house. Even if you are far away, it will be as if you had never left, daughter. Leave the thoughts, it's time to prepare your trousseau. The old Micaela would be proud to see her granddaughter go to work in the city! I will speak with Don Froilán after the sermon. He has good contacts and can look for a respectable house for you to enter to serve while Ramón studies. When it is time to get married, you will be an exemplary housewife. As a child I taught you everything a good wife should know. You are good at cooking and you have a good hand for sewing and ironing. Cleaning knows how to do anybody and, although you never had siblings, the brats also adore and haunt you to tell them stories and give them candy. You will defend yourself very well in your new home. And when you come to see us at Christmas, or in summer, bring to this town the joy of many zagales. I will love being a grandmother, and you know how much patience a father has with children, more than with sheep.
Dorotea listened to her mother, but her head was far from there. It was enclosed between streets and cars, between buildings that did not let the sun's rays pass and surrounded by unknown people. Before leaving, he already longed for the warmth of his neighbors and friends. He sensed that a part of her would stay forever in her small hometown.
Sebastian, Dorotea's father, whom he had always affectionately called Dori since he was born, had been listening silently to the two women in his house. Without saying a word so as not to interrupt the conversation between mother and daughter. He always envied and admired, in equal and secret parts, that complicity that united them so much and that sometimes made him feel relegated to the background, thoughts that with a couple of kisses and carantos of his daughter disappeared immediately to give way to a great smile.
I couldn't express in words how much I loved them both. The Sacra was a great woman and a better wife and mother. Dorotea was the girl in his eyes and Sebastian wanted nothing more than his happiness. When his wife went into labor, he prayed that he would be a boy, but today he recognized that nothing could be better than the joys his daughter gave him daily.
With his speech, he wanted to end the talk and, hugging the young woman, held back the emotion before saying:
"Dori, honey, go with him and be happy, you have our approval." In time you will become a great lady and you will live with luxuries and comforts that you would only dream of here. Mother and I will be fine, together, as we have always been. When we cannot fend for ourselves, we have savings that will allow us to hire someone to run the farm, or we will lease it. That doesn't have to worry you, my girl. This is our life and you must live yours. And if you are blessed with children, we will be waiting for you with open arms. I will love teaching my grandchildren their origins, their roots. Always remember, daughter, it is very important that we never forget where we came from.
As soon as Sebastian turned away from her, he could not prevent a tear from reaching his chin, which secretly hurried to dry with the back of his hand.
"Men should never cry," said old man "Carajo," his father, and Dorotea's grandfather.
But he was not able to imagine a single day without his only daughter in the house.
He took a small hoe and, barely turning to his wife so he wouldn't notice his moment of weakness, he only managed to say in a broken voice:
"Woman, I'll be back for dinner." You will have many things to talk about and it would be a good idea to start with the preparations. It will keep you busy and time goes by very fast.
With a heavy heart he went to the fences of his orchards and, giving free rein to his feelings, he cried like a child while the memories of his little Dori, in diapers first and with long braids later, were happening in his head, without Reach to imagine her dressed as a bride. It would always be your girl.
"Father, will you let me help you paint the fences?" Doña Flora always says at school that I paint very well, and that I will be a great painter. I could start with this smaller one, don't you think?
And a part of the fence was painted in pink by a small Dorotea who, as the years went by, continued to make her father proud.
"Father, I would like to go to the verbena in San Juan to be held on Saturday night." If you gave me your permission so that instead of going with my mother and with you, this year Ramón could accompany me ...
And Dorotea, with a discreet teenage make-up and braids gathered in a layered bun that made her look older, attended the verbena of Ramón's arm, both closely watched by the Sacra and Mrs. Amalia.
- You're beautiful, Dorotea. Have you grown overnight? Let me think ... Did you eat spinach or maybe roasted onions? They say that some develop you and that others highlight beauty. Oh no! How stupid I am! You have powdered your nose and are wearing high heels like Dona Sacra's. And where have you left your schoolgirl braids?
Ramón remained tireless with his jokes and made her laugh throughout San Juan's evening. Her eyes shone, her flattering words sounded very sweet to her ears and her contagious vitality dragged her. I knew it was true what everyone whispered. Yes, they formed a wonderful couple, and I was convinced that they would be able to start a wonderful family.
When Ramón spent that afternoon at her house, she had already closed the basket she had prepared with her mother's help: slices of bread and cured cheese, a kettle with venison stew, pickles and beef jerky. He completed it with a couple of apples and quince jam. He laid out the shabby plaid blanket that her grandmother wove for her with great effort when she was born. After a brief greeting from Ramón to Doña Sacra, the basket was hung on one arm and with the other was linked to Ramón, to go together towards the campaign next to the river, without giving occasion to his mother began to tell the young man the latest news that had happened in the town, because it was known when these began but not how long their monologue would last.
Ramón had loaded a sack of logs on his back that he dropped next to those who had already gathered among the rest of the neighbors. The bonfire that would burn at midnight would be seen from far away. When they bathed their feet on the riverbank, a magical night, night of desires and dreams, would begin.
Sitting next to each other on the suffered blanket and, in the heat of the bonfire, they were happy on their first night in San Juan, being closely watched by their mothers, always devout, always worried about what they will say, and always proud that their children, becoming adults before their eyes, made them feel complete as women.
Ramón and Dorotea, aware that those two pairs of eyes perched on their neck would remain there until the last embers of the monumental bonfire had disappeared, they enjoyed the fire, the icy water, the fireworks and the verbena. And also a furtive kiss that, with the complicity of the night and under cover of darkness, went unnoticed to the rest of the world.
They danced until late at night and, had it not been for Dona Sacra and Dona Amalia that they barely managed to keep their eyes open, the dawn would have surprised them there. On his way home, Dorotea hanging from her mother's arm did not stop chattering. She was happy, and with that joy capable of infecting those around her, she made the Sacrament later could not fall asleep and, much to her regret, she recognized that her daughter was already a woman and would soon fly from her side. His last wish for her, before falling asleep after such a long night, was that she be blessed with a numerous offspring and never feel the loneliness of the house, as would happen in his when she marched on his side.
He would be followed by many other Nights of San Juan under the starlight, until, a few years later, with a decision made, Ramón and Dorotea sighed at the same time and his wish was that, in the big city, between asphalt and blocks of concrete, a better life will await both of you.
The Sacra woke up that Sunday more disturbed than usual. She had not had a good dream, and was aware that the nerves that ate her would not let her be as aware of the ten o'clock sermon as she used to. A couple of weeks before he had spoken with Don Froilán, the parish priest, and it remained that today, at the end of the Mass, he would enjoy Sunday meal with his family and talk about the future of his daughter Dorotea.
Don Froilán, always devoted to lending a hand to his parishioners, after the conversation with the Sacrament he hurried to contact some of his former parishioners. He kept good friends from when he still officiated mass in the city, in the Church of Santa María Catalina. And, it would be today, when he would tell them if he had managed to find a decent house in which his daughter could enter as a maiden, until the day she married Ramón. Only then would he quit his job to take care of his own house and start a family.
The Sacra and her husband, Sebastian, fully trusted the pastor, and would try to entertain him the best they would know.
Any neighborhood conflict, even sometimes familiar, led Don Froilán to intercede and mediate in search of peace and solutions. Thus he won the love and respect of all. When Don Damián died, the old priest, who in his last sermons liked the sacred wine more than preaching the divine teachings, it was Don Froilán who came to his town and their lives.
At first, people looked at him with a certain suspicion, since it was not usual for a priest of the great city to be sent as a rural pastor, but it had been enough for a few weeks to be considered by all as one of his own. So much so that, every Sunday at the end of the sermon, he was invited to one of the houses to share his family meal around the table. And that, eleven years ago.
It was rumored in the town's female huddles, without any malice, that every year that Don Froilán spent, who came to be a very handsome young man, to the blush of some of the women and envy of some of his husbands, he gained a couple of kilos. Which, far from imagining the opposite, was a pride for the entire neighborhood, especially for the ladies, who competed with each other striving in their Sunday culinary tasks.
When he left the habits in the church, his ecclesiastical solemnity relaxed, showing a man already in the maturity, still handsome although with a justified overweight, but, above all, charlatan and funny, that even allowed some comment, of slightly nuances spicy, which caused the blush of their parishioners, and the reproachful looks of jealous husbands. Despite this, obviously, they never saw him as a rival.
That morning, shortly after sunrise, the Sacra was already in the chicken pens. One in particular caught his attention, because it was different from the others. He was born with a crooked beak, which did not straighten with the passage of time, and always had difficulties to feed himself as did the rest of his fellows. It was Dorotea, who in the first weeks of life, barely managed to feed her, feeling happy when she managed to get her through. As a child she was always convinced that the eggs laid by her hen, which she had dubbed as Picopallá, were better than those that had been laid by the rest of the chickens on her farm, given the special treatment she had received in his childhood as a pen, as he often repeated with laughter.
The Sacra prepared for Don Froilán some porridge and a roast that delighted him, accompanied by a succulent salad with vegetables that Sebastian had collected from the garden. Everything was little to thank the parish priest for his selfless help. For dessert, he brought to the table an exquisite rice with freshly milked milk, which was served seasoned with top-quality cinnamon. While tasting a second ration, Don Froilán said that none of those who, to date, had prepared their neighbors had overcome it.
The Sacra, swollen with pride and with the esteem above the levels that could be considered as normal, was looking forward to the meal ending, to take her cafelito with sweets on the snack that, every Sunday afternoon, organized in the back terrace Doña Nieves, the apothecary's house.
As one who does not want the thing, she herself would bring up the words of Don Froilán, and looking sideways at her neighbors, she could see the mohines of envy of her neighbors, especially that of Casilda, second wife of the shopkeeper, who always He presumed to be the one who cooked the best desserts in the whole town, and also in the surrounding ones. According to her words, it was only necessary to look at her husband's belly, fifteen years older than her, whom her first wife, may she rest in peace, assured that she was never able to feed properly, and less to sweeten. His comments, vulgar many times, and his striking way of dressing, not very consistent with the rural environment in which he moved, always provoked female whispering in his path, and lascivious looks and comments of another kind in male circles. And the good man of Bernardo, her husband, the shopkeeper, kissed where she stepped.
Don Froilán, finished the meal, and encouraged by the punch that Sebastian had served, began to tell what his efforts had been, so decisive for the future life of the young Dorotea:
"Girl," he said, looking into her eyes, "I've got a great family to welcome you in the city." You will live with them and I am sure they will receive you as if it were their own daughter. Sebastian, Sacra, you don't have to worry about her at all. I give you my word. The owner of the house is a respected judge, and his wife, a devoted woman, good-hearted and sweet wherever they are. They have been married for more than thirty years. When I lived in the city, I was in his residence on many occasions, and we are still joined by a good friendship, although now we visit very occasionally, for the distance that separates us. Even so, I tell you, I have witnessed countless times that they are an exemplary marriage.
When the time came, and grateful for the results of Don Froilán's visit, the Sacrament went happily to bed. Knowing that his daughter had secured a good future, and also that her neighbors, especially Casilda, would not have as sweet dreams as hers. Surely they would be writhing with envy, and already looking, on the calendar that hung in their kitchens, what Sunday Don Froilán planned Sunday food in their homes. They would try to overcome their rice pudding, she was sure of that, even if it was their life.
And with these thoughts going on in his head, the Sacrament, that night, slept in peace.
Arriving on the day of departure, a wet early morning in September, tears flooded the platform of the small and old-fashioned station, and the hugs, magnetized and endless, spoke for themselves. The air, at some moments irrespirable, was invaded by a mixture of pride and sadness, like those of so many families who, seeing their children go from the countryside to the city in search of a better life, could hardly hide their found feelings.
Don Froilán would accompany them during the trip, taking the opportunity to share the food with their old friends and reassure at the same time the Sacrament, who already imagined a Dorotea alone and disoriented, traveling a maze of streets all the same, without being able to Reach your destination.
When the imminent departure was announced, the pride of Cosme, Ramon's father, became apparent. Giving his son a pat on the back, Chato said with satisfaction: "Make yourself worth in the city, son." Always keep in mind that no one is better than anyone, and that we have all been born equal, of a man and a woman. You have at your fingertips everything that mother and I were only allowed to dream. Our youth were other times. Life goes on and our repressed illusions now materialize in you.
Young Ramón was not enough to slap his father, and drowning his pain completely, and without mentioning a word, he merged with him in a hug, from man to man, as old Carpi used to say. For a moment, his mind went back to when he was a child and reminded his grandfather of the day when a small Ramon, only seven years old, had managed to milk a goat for the first time:
"Come that hug, man to man!" And the old Tomás Carpio, satisfied by his grandson's feat, sighed deeply and lit his cigar to celebrate it.
Doña Amalia and the Sacra were not so restrained. Her tears seemed endless, and the cheeks of their respective children were invaded by loud kisses, leaving no single centimeter free of occupation. His advice and recommendations would no longer be heard when the train had already moved away from the platform, but not before.
Sebastian stood apart and silent, overwhelmed by the pain of Dorotea's departure, and trying not to be warned by his daughter. Addressing the two young men, he wished them to be happy, reminding them that now they would only have each other and that they would always be present in their prayers. The kiss on the cheek with which he fired his daughter, was the maximum expression of a father's love. Dorotea, swallowing saliva, and helped by Ramón climbed the stairs of the train and both left their childhood behind.
The city, in Dorotea's eyes, was much larger than she remembered. Only once, when Mrs. Nieves' husband, the apothecary, died and she put up some land for sale, had she accompanied her father to the notary to formalize the purchase.
Don Froilán proposed to approach the student residence where Ramón would be staying and present his recommendations to Mrs. Matilde, the regent of the same. The farewell between the two young people was sad and full of uncertainty. Dorotea would send a message to Mrs. Matilde so that she could communicate to Ramón the signs of her new house and the day they could meet again. At the last moment, Ramón took Dorotea's hands and briefly kissed her on the lips. Don Froilán, pretended to finalize details with the regent so as not to have to recriminate them that kiss in public.
"We've arrived, Dorotea." As you will see Ramón's residence is only twenty minutes away on foot. Do not worry daughter. You will always have him very close, and you will be able to see each other more often than you think. Mrs. Teresa, the judge's wife will take care of your situation and facilitate her visits.
Dorotea, whose legs were trembling, saw before her a splendid two-story mansion. Next to the entrance gate, which Don Froilán remembered, it always remained ajar, a gleaming brass plaque said:
Mr. Francisco Javier Buenaventura de los Campos
Mrs. Teresa María of the Alba Tower
Round of Puig, 41
They crossed the garden that extended on both sides of the cobblestone and that reached the entrance door. It was small but careful with a delicacy that Dorotea had never seen in her town, where plants and flowers grew at will everywhere.
They were received by the same judge who, accompanied by his wife, showed his joy at the meeting with his old friend, and, with a paternal warmth, welcomed the young woman.
Dorotea served in the residence of Don Francisco Javier for several years, trying to adapt to life in the big city.
Both he and Mrs. Teresa always treated her like a daughter, rather than a maid. They could never see their desire to become parents fulfilled and thanked Dorotea to place their trust in them, maintaining a close relationship during their stay there.
Every morning, Teresa and Dorotea went together to the central market to do daily shopping and, in the afternoon, the lady asked her to accompany her to visit one of her friends or have a cup of coffee at a nearby lounge. She made him pleased, seeing in her eyes the brightness of a late motherhood come true for a few hours.
Even so, every night, in the privacy of his small but warm room, when he hung his uniform on the back of the chair that occupied the feet of the bed, he couldn't help remembering his parents.
I imagined them sitting in the fresh air at the door of the house when it was good or next to the heat of the large kitchen, lit for long hours, when the temperatures were low.
The judge's house was very comfortable. He had been installing, a few years ago, a heating that gave a pleasant atmosphere to all rooms, but that she did not give the warmth of home she remembered with such longing. Nor did the fresco that entered through the windows remind him of the sunrises of his town, or that of the sunsets, when the night began to aim as the mountains turned off the sun.
She was free on Sunday afternoons and it was then that she could meet with Ramón who was waiting for her by the gate of the house.
They took long walks talking about their things, the endless days they had been apart. It was always Dorotea who first took the floor informing in detail of each hour spent in her absence.
"Dorotea, breathe little girl you're going to drown." I also want to tell you my week and if I don't stop you, it gives us time to return.
With these words and with a smile, Ramón would take his turn of speech given by a tireless Dorotea who, to Ramón's delight, and despite the circumstances, felt very happy in the judge's house.
The young woman could not have fit better in her new role as an adoptive daughter in the care of the almost elderly marriage. It had been weeks since Dona Teresa had told her that it was not necessary for her to wear the service uniform. She, first was reluctant to the idea, as a sign of respect, but, after the insistence of the lady, she went on to wear her modest street clothes daily, a wardrobe that the lady of the house renewed and expanded to Dorotea's surprise , which was full of thanks.
It was fate that made Natividad, a recent middle-aged widow with three teenage children still in her care, go to the home of Don Francisco Javier in search of work, given his new situation and his impending need. It would be Nati, as he preferred to be called, the one who went on to perform the housework that, to date, was Dorotea's responsibility. And this, every day that passed, accompanied Mrs. Teresa to more social and beneficial acts, as if her real daughter was involved, and shared with her the responsibility for everyday decisions.
Little by little, he learned to move among the high society of the city. Despite her rudimentary studies, she had the privilege that Mrs. Teresa herself, and sometimes also her husband, would be in charge of teaching her everything essential to move among her friends and known as a fish in the water.
He learned manners, protocol, and could even devote himself to leisure activities in his spare time: among his preferences, readings and half-point embroidery. Her rapid learning in terms of knowing how to be and doing impressed Dona Teresa greatly. Dorotea did not know how to thank the treatment she received, even so, every day she struggled to demonstrate it in her own way and with the scarce means at her disposal.
One Wednesday afternoon, without warning, when Mrs. Teresa's friends were summoned to the weekly gathering that took place in the house, she surprised them with some wine donuts like those the Sacraments had prepared so many times. Pleased by the detail, she received all kinds of praise.
On another occasion, already winter, he wanted to entertain Don Francisco Javier, while he smoked his pipe sitting next to the fireplace, with a gray scarf that she had knitted herself, and that earned her a great smile from the judge. His wife, in mock anger, pretended to be jealous of the gift she had given to her husband. Neither short nor lazy, Dorotea put a package wrapped in precious blue and ocher paper on her knees, with a splendid golden bow, from which the old woman's shaking hands drew a beautiful light brown toquilla. It was the first time that Dorotea received both kisses on the cheeks. They would be the first of many, so grateful they were for the presence of the young woman in the house, which had made them feel reborn in frustrated feelings once upon a time.
And so, little by little, she was part of that family who wanted her to feel her own. But, despite feeling immensely fortunate in his new home, not a single day passed when Dorotea's thoughts did not go through her village, her orchards and her farm; longing for smells, flavors or landscapes that had long been left behind.
Ramón, although much more restrained than Dorotea, always told funny stories that occurred in the residence of students where he lived, and anecdotes about the patience of Mrs. Matilde, the regent, who despite being the mother of five sons, continued to endure every day , the tireless jokes of the young people he housed under his roof. She always said that her children no longer needed her, that they were already made and right men, not like the students who, in her words, were still half-baked. So many times he repeated it to Ramón and his companions, which earned him the nickname of Mrs. Matilde that of the Fogones. She, knowing the nickname with which they had renamed her, pretended to be angry, but she was happy remembering in each of them her own children when they were just brats.
In the cold winter afternoons they were looking for shelter in the chocolate shop of Marcial, and in summer Maria's terrace was perfect for a drink. They were not the only ones who gathered there. Other students, some acquaintances of Ramón and others unknown to both, met there with some young woman with whom they began to fool around, and at the farthest tables you could always see some mature ladies with their eyes fixed on their backs, which they always remembered Dorotea and Ramón their first night in San Juan, which they spent together in the town. Although the years passed some things changed very slowly.
Farewell was always painful. A kiss and a hug that they would keep for a whole week.
Ramón finished high school and his excellent grades earned him a scholarship that would allow him to afford higher education at the university. The highly satisfactory results of his law degree earned him a teaching position in the faculty.
He felt lucky. In addition to his working life that was going well, his relationship with Dorotea was increasingly solid and sincere. Over time, already formalized their commitment, they set a date for their union to be forever.
They rarely saw their parents. In several years, they had only returned to the town on a few occasions, when Dorotea was able to come to Dona Teresa's house to give her permission a couple of days in a row.
This time everything would be different. Already on arrival they could see the square adorned for the occasion and the tables arranged in front of the church that, in a few hours, would be full of stews and sweets for the banquet.
The link was considered by all as an extraordinary event. They invited neighbors, friends and family. In reality, all who were left were invited, who were already few. The parents of both could not hide their pride, but Dona Sacra saw in her daughter's eyes how much she missed her previous life, but not in those of Ramón who seemed to have forgotten her origins, making her new situation all her history. The highly anticipated and absent were Don Francisco Javier and Doña Teresa who, affected the first of a pneumonia, was forced to remain in bed, to his wife's grief.
The women who remained in the village went out of their way to help the mothers of the bride and groom to arrange the most exquisite delicacies they were able to prepare. The parents of both, on the other hand, were in charge of the wine and the brandy flowing in great celebration.
Sebastian, with gray temples that Dorotea did not remember seeing before, was the best man at the wedding. He had already put aside the words of old Carajo, for there had been many tears shed with his wife since his daughter's departure, invaded by the silence and loneliness of the house.
The Sacrament made him promise that Dorotea would never know of the sadness that she sowed in them with her march. And, with his best smile, Sebastian took his daughter's arm to take her to the altar, where her boyfriend was already waiting for them.
Ramon, unpolluted, serene and well-behaved, as never before had anyone seen in that boy who went to study in the city, smiled when he saw his fiancee enter the church. Next to him, Dona Amalia, dressed in her best clothes to fulfill her godmother role perfectly, she could barely contain the sobs.
The day went by very fast. The newlyweds, for whom among all the residents of the town had conditioned a small house that was rented at the entrance of the town, enjoyed a few days of rest in the company of their families, making that, when the time of farewell, was out much more painful than usual, especially for the young Dorotea.
Ramón, with his effort, had managed to be very well considered in his teaching work. Their salary, initially not excessive but sufficient, would allow them to live well, and they had made the decision to rent a modest two-room apartment, close to the faculty where he taught classes daily.
Dorotea left the judge's house to take care of her new home. Far away was the young woman with trembling legs who crossed that fence for the first time. No one who did not know her would say that she was not born there, such was the change and her chameleonic adaptation to the atmosphere of the big city and its elitist bourgeoisie.
On more than one occasion, when she accompanied Mrs. Teresa, a young man from a wealthy family went to this, believing her mother of Dorotea, to ask for her permission and be able to take her to a dance. Both smiled at the occurrence, causing the bewilderment of the supposed pretender on duty, who could not hide his embarrassment when the truth was revealed. None ever told these anecdotes to Ramón because everything remained in that, in misunderstandings. Dorotea only had eyes for Ramón, and nothing would change no matter how much the high society boys were around her.
An expensive set of suitcases and hatbox, a wedding gift from Doña Teresa and her husband, were waiting ready in the mansion hall, next to an elegant Dorotea who, without losing balance on her fine heels, despite the trembling of her legs , he waited impatiently for Ramon, pressing an exquisite cashmere coat against his chest.
It was an endearing farewell where there was no lack of tears. Fused with Mrs. Teresa in an endless and oppressive embrace, she had to promise her to let her go, that they would visit them often and that she would sponsor her firstborn in the baptism, if the day came.
The following year, his first son would be born, whom Dorotea wanted to name Sebastian to satisfy his father, for the brother he never had. Doña Teresa, was a perfect godmother and host of the event, which was held in the main hall of her residence, with the assistance of family and friends.
On one occasion, the Sacrament accompanied Sebastian to the city to manage the lease of some plots and visited his daughter and son-in-law. Doña Teresa wanted everyone to eat that day at her home, and the first time Don Francisco Javier addressed her by calling her Mrs. Sacramento, her ears sounded like a gift.
So, when he stepped on the asphalt on the occasion of the baptism of his first grandson, far from bothering with Doña Teresa for the sponsorship, he would smile at her every time she or her husband referred to her so politely.
Many nights she went to bed thinking that her daughter, in that same society that asphyxiated her little by little, one day it would no longer be the young Dorotea arriving from the provinces, but Mrs. Dorotea, the lady of Professor Ramón Urquijo Montiel. And embraced his dreams and Sebastian's good, he slept happily.
After two years, in her second birth, Dorotea brought a girl into the world, whom she was baptized as Ana, patron of her battered town.
Little Sebastian and the newborn Ana grew up between tall buildings and noisy streets, between heavy traffic and unknown faces. The visits to the town were increasingly spaced due to Ramón's multiple commitments, and to a Dorotea who never said no to her husband, relegating her own feelings to the background, and always putting his own.
I am Ana's daughter, who grew up ignoring much of her roots and who will continue to tell the story of Grandpa Ramón's march.
His farewell was a brief note that he hurriedly wrote and delivered to Mr. Alfredo, the janitor, who had claimed to have seen him leave with a single suitcase, with the portrait of the grandmother under his arm and with a big smile, leaving the door of his luxurious open house, but that he confessed to feeling empty.
There he left half a life, between the walls that saw his first wrinkles and gray hair born, while his merits also followed. Illustrious personalities passed through it to those who had been joined by a great friendship for decades, but who today seemed to have vanished because he wanted to. He forgot everything and everyone.
He affirmed that he would never step on the classrooms where he taught classes for so many years, and to which he frequently was invited to attend conferences and conferences after retiring. He liked to move among people so much! He really loved this great city that had opened his arms when he stepped on it for the first time. Despite the years that had elapsed, I would always remember that day as if it were yesterday.
Not even his deserved retirement had managed to separate him from the academic world. And now he gave up everything, the applause, the high-level gatherings ... We didn't understand his decision, which was very strange to us. My grandfather had never been a lonely country man. Not, at least, that we knew.
He formed a wonderful family that, without being too large, had remained united. He loved his children and grandchildren, whom he saw growing between pampering and asphalt.
It is true that he barely talked about his childhood and, although we knew he was born in a small town, he never took us to visit him, and we never got to know his previous life. Since the grandmother passed away, the secrecy regarding her young years, as he said, became more evident. Taking distance we tried to clarify if it was he, or we, his family, who moved away little by little and without any reason, until causing his departure.
We still didn't understand, but the time had come to know what had happened in his head and we went to visit him at the signs he indicated.
We arrived at a rural farm located on the outskirts of a small village that, surely once would have been a pretty town, but of which there were only a few inhabited houses. The remaining ones were barely standing, or had been reduced to cattle sheds. If in the past there were streets, now these were only guessed.
We did not give credit. The house was little more than a dark stone cabin, open the door by small windows. Next to it, an orchard and a shabby shack, which once could be a chicken pen, or perhaps a small cattle farm. A stream of incessant murmur that was lost in the immense meadow was all that was heard around us. In the background, a small grove sheltered a gazebo. In the center a rustic table, surrounded by benches, some still unfinished and unpolished. There was a strong smell of pine mixed with manure tufo, in equal parts, which seemed to come from the adjoining plots. The calm was absolute.
In the distance, we recognized the small silhouette of the grandfather who came to meet us. We were surprised to notice that it seemed to have rejuvenated a few years.
—But grandfather ...
-Enough! He interrupted us with just one word, without letting us continue. And he was absent in his thoughts for a moment.
When his mind returned, his speech was swift. It was brief and blunt.
"I am not alone, here I am with her." I have found it again. I notice his presence in every corner, in every log of those next to the fireplace. I smell its aroma in the grass, in the orchard and in every canning jar. I also hear his voice by the riverbed and when the breeze waves the leaves.
If your grandmother left everything for love, now I will be the versatile chameleon and merge with her essence. I can not live without her. Here we spend our happiest youth moments, without audiences, without crowds. Dorotea alone and I, me and Dorotea. The rest of the world did not exist for us. He lived my life and not his. I own him. I will stay here until it is time for me to go the other way, but I will do it with her and this time it will be forever.
Many times I have remembered the love story lived by my grandparents, and I have told it to my children as they have been old enough to understand it and give it its deserved value. My family and I, following in the footsteps of Grandfather Ramón, have also left the big city and returned to the town, to our town, to the origins that we didn't know we had for so many years, to the unknown part of our lives.
Today the town has been reborn, like so many others, thanks to the effort of those who bet on a quality life, while close and endearing.
We restore the property of the grandfather, conditioning it to live and for rural accommodation for rent. We have our own garden that we supply, and the shabby hovel was again a small farm that gives us work and satisfaction. My children proudly attend rural school. Although years ago it was unthinkable so far technology has also come. We do not envy anything because we do not lack anything essential. We are happy like this and our air, smells like pine or manure, is ours and is pure.
Our beginnings in the town have also been difficult but worthwhile. Our friends from the city visit us frequently. For something it will be that, when they are here, it is harder for them every day to return to the urban bustle.
Finally, and in memory of my grandparents, Ramón and Dorotea, I will say that at the entrance of the road that gives access to our farm, today there is an endearing sign that announces:
You are welcome to the «Chameleon Lands».