Chapter 19: - Page 2 of 8

The Fuse

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

The first greetings over, the poor woman, who had at once noticed her son’s gloomy look, could no longer restrain her curiosity and began to ask questions.  His first explanations Cabesang Andang regarded as some subterfuge, so she smiled and soothed her son, reminding him of their sacrifices and privations.  She spoke of Capitana Simona’s son, who, having entered the seminary, now carried himself in the town like a bishop, and Capitana Simona already considered herself a Mother of God, clearly so, for her son was going to be another Christ.

If the son becomes a priest, said she, the mother won’t have to pay us what she owes us.  Who will collect from her then?

But on seeing that Placido was speaking seriously and reading in his eyes the storm that raged within him, she realized that what he was telling her was unfortunately the strict truth.  She remained silent for a while and then broke out into lamentations.

Ay! she exclaimed. I promised your father that I would care for you, educate you, and make a lawyer of you! I’ve deprived myself of everything so that you might go to school! Instead of joining the panguingui where the stake is a half peso, I Ve gone only where it’s a half real, enduring the bad smells and the dirty cards.  Look at my patched camisa; for instead of buying new ones I’ve spent the money in masses and presents to St. Sebastian, even though I don’t have great confidence in his power, because the curate recites the masses fast and hurriedly, he’s an entirely new saint and doesn’t yet know how to perform miracles, and isn’t made of batikulin but of lanete.  Ay, what will your father say to me when I die and see him again!

So the poor woman lamented and wept, while Placido became gloomier and let stifled sighs escape from his breast.

What would I get out of being a lawyer? was his response.

What will become of you? asked his mother, clasping her hands.  They’ll call you a filibuster and garrote you.  I’ve told you that you must have patience, that you must be humble.  I don’t tell you that you must kiss the hands of the curates, for I know that you have a delicate sense of smell, like your father, who couldn’t endure European cheese.[1]  But we have to suffer, to be silent, to say yes to everything.  What are we going to do? The friars own everything, and if they are unwilling, no one will become a lawyer or a doctor.  Have patience, my son, have patience!

But I’ve had a great deal, mother, I’ve suffered for months and months.

[1] The Malay method of kissing is quite different from the Occidental. The mouth is placed close to the object and a deep breath taken, often without actually touching the object, being more of a sniff than a kiss.—Tr.

Learn this Filipino word:

taong-bulsá