Chapter 7: - Page 4 of 6

An Idyl on an Azotea

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Have I thought of you? The fever of love not only gave warmth to the snows but colored the ice! The beautiful skies of Italy with their clear depths reminded me of your eyes, its sunny landscape spoke to me of your smile; the plains of Andalusia with their scent-laden airs, peopled with oriental memories, full of romance and color, told me of your love! On dreamy, moonlit nights, while boating oil the Rhine, I have asked myself if my fancy did not deceive me as I saw you among the poplars on the banks, on the rocks of the Lorelei, or in the midst of the waters, singing in the silence of the night as if you were a comforting fairy maiden sent to enliven the solitude and sadness of those ruined castles!

I have not traveled like you, so I know only your town and Manila and Antipolo, she answered with a smile which showed that she believed all he said.  But since I said good-by to you and entered the convent, I have always thought of you and have only put you out of my mind when ordered to do so by my confessor, who imposed many penances upon me. I recalled our games and our quarrels when we were children.  You used to pick up the most beautiful shells and search in the river for the roundest and smoothest pebbles of different colors that we might play games with them.  You were very stupid and always lost, and by way of a forfeit I would slap you with the palm of my hand, but I always tried not to strike you hard, for I had pity on you.  In those games you cheated much, even more than I did, and we used to finish our play in a quarrel.  Do you remember that time when you became really angry at me? Then you made me suffer, but afterwards, when I thought of it in the convent, I smiled and longed for you so that we might quarrel again—so that we might once more make up.  We were still children and had gone with your mother to bathe in the brook under the shade of the thick bamboo.  On the banks grew many flowers and plants whose strange names you told me in Latin and Spanish, for you were even then studying in the Ateneo.[1]  I paid no attention, but amused myself by running after the needle-like dragon-flies and the butterflies with their rainbow colors and tints of mother-of-pearl as they swarmed about among the flowers.  Sometimes I tried to surprise them with my hands or to catch the little fishes that slipped rapidly about amongst the moss and stones in the edge of the water.  Once you disappeared suddenly and when you returned you brought a crown of leaves and orange blossoms, which you placed upon my head, calling me Chloe.  For yourself you made one of vines.  But your mother snatched away my crown, and after mashing it with a stone mixed it with the gogo with which she was going to wash our heads.  The tears came into your eyes and you said that she did not understand mythology. ‘Silly boy,’ your mother exclaimed, ‘you’ll see how sweet your hair will smell afterwards.’ I laughed, but you were offended and would not talk with me, and for the rest of the day appeared so serious that then I wanted to cry.  On our way back to the town through the hot sun, I picked some sage leaves that grew beside the path and gave them to you to put in your hat so that you might not get a headache.  You smiled and caught my hand, and we made up.

Ibarra smiled with happiness as he opened his pocketbook and took from it a piece of paper in which were wrapped some dry, blackened leaves which gave off a sweet odor.  Your sage leaves, he said, in answer to her inquiring look.  This is all that you have ever given me.

[1] The Ateneo Municipal, where the author, as well as nearly every other Filipino of note in the past generation, received his early education, was founded by the Jesuits shortly after their return to the islands in 1859.—TR.

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