Chapter 7: - Page 3 of 6

An Idyl on an Azotea

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

She, like a sister of Cain, was of course jealous and asked her sweetheart, Have you always thought of me? Have you never forgotten me on all your travels in the great cities among so many beautiful women?

He, too, was a brother of Cain, and sought to evade such questions, making use of a little fiction. Could I forget you? he answered as he gazed enraptured into her dark eyes.  Could I be faithless to my oath, my sacred oath? Do you remember that stormy night when you saw me weeping alone by the side of my dead mother and, drawing near to me, you put your hand on my shoulder, that hand which for so long a time you had not allowed me to touch, saying to me, ‘You have lost your mother while I never had one,’ and you wept with me? You loved her and she looked upon you as a daughter.  Outside it rained and the lightning flashed, but within I seemed to hear music and to see a smile on the pallid face of the dead.  Oh, that my parents were alive and might behold you now! I then caught your hand along with the hand of my mother and swore to love you and to make you happy, whatever fortune Heaven might have in store for me; and that oath, which has never weighed upon me as a burden, I now renew!

Could I forget you? The thought of you has ever been with me, strengthening me amid the dangers of travel, and has been a comfort to my soul’s loneliness in foreign lands.  The thoughts of you have neutralized the lotus-effect of Europe, which erases from the memories of so many of our countrymen the hopes and misfortunes of our fatherland. In dreams I saw you standing on the shore at Manila, gazing at the far horizon wrapped in the warm light of the early dawn.  I heard the slow, sad song that awoke in me sleeping affections and called back to the memory of my heart the first years of our childhood, our joys, our pleasures, and all that happy past which you gave life to while you were in our town. It seemed to me that you were the fairy, the spirit, the poetic incarnation of my fatherland, beautiful, unaffected, lovable, frank, a true daughter of the Philippines, that beautiful land which unites with the imposing virtues of the mother country, Spain, the admirable qualities of a young people, as you unite in your being all that is beautiful and lovely, the inheritance of both races, so indeed the love of you and that of my fatherland have become fused into one.

Could I forget you? Many times have I thought that I heard the sound of your piano and the accents of your voice.  When in Germany, as I wandered at twilight in the woods, peopled with the fantastic creations of its poets and the mysterious legends of past generations, always I called upon your name, imagining that I saw you in the mists that rose from the depths of the valley, or I fancied that I heard your voice in the rustling of the leaves.  When from afar I heard the songs of the peasants as they returned from their labors, it seemed to me that their tones harmonized with my inner voices, that they were singing for you, and thus they lent reality to my illusions and dreams.  At times I became lost among the mountain paths and while the night descended slowly, as it does there, I would find myself still wandering, seeking my way among the pines and beeches and oaks.  Then when some scattering rays of moonlight slipped down into the clear spaces left in the dense foliage, I seemed to see you in the heart of the forest as a dim, loving shade wavering about between the spots of light and shadow.  If perhaps the nightingale poured forth his varied trills, I fancied it was because he saw you and was inspired by you.

Learn this Filipino word:

nasa kanyáng kamáy