Chapter 7: - Page 5 of 6

An Idyl on an Azotea

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

She in turn snatched from her bosom a little pouch of white satin.  You must not touch this, she said, tapping the palm of his hand lightly.  It’s a letter of farewell.

The one I wrote to you before leaving?

Have you ever written me any other, sir?

And what did I say to you then?

Many fibs, excuses of a delinquent debtor, she answered smilingly, thus giving him to understand how sweet to her those fibs were.  Be quiet now and I’ll read it to you. I’ll leave out your fine phrases in order not to make a martyr of you.

Raising the paper to the height of her eyes so that the youth might not see her face, she began: ‘My’—but I’ll not read what follows that because it’s not true.

Her eyes ran along some lines.

‘My father wishes me to go away, in spite of all my pleadings.  ‘You are a man now,’ he told me, ‘and you must think about your future and about your duties.  You must learn the science of life, a thing which your fatherland cannot teach you, so that you may some day be useful to it.  If you remain here in my shadow, in this environment of business affairs, you will not learn to look far ahead.  The day in which you lose me you will find yourself like the plant of which our poet Baltazar tells: grown in the water, its leaves wither at the least scarcity of moisture and a moment’s heat dries it up.  Don’t you understand? You are almost a young man, and yet you weep!’ These reproaches hurt me and I confessed that I loved you.  My father reflected for a time in silence and then, placing his hand on my shoulder, said in a trembling voice, ‘Do you think that you alone know how to love, that your father does not love you, and that he will not feel the separation from you? It is only a short time since we lost your mother, and I must journey on alone toward old age, toward the very time of life when I would seek help and comfort from your youth, yet I accept my loneliness, hardly knowing whether I shall ever see you again.  But you must think of other and greater things; the future lies open before you, while for me it is already passing behind; your love is just awakening, while mine is dying; fire burns in your blood, while the chill is creeping into mine.  Yet you weep and cannot sacrifice the present for the future, useful as it may be alike to yourself and to your country.’  My father’s eyes filled with tears and I fell upon my knees at his feet, I embraced him, I begged his forgiveness, and I assured him that I was ready to set out—’

Ibarra’s growing agitation caused her to suspend the reading, for he had grown pale and was pacing back and forth.

Learn this Filipino word:

waláng ulo