Friday, August 13, 2010

Interlude - From The Book of Embraces

The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galeano

is wonderful. I'm going to share a few of my favorites. Here are the first two:


The Preacher Miguel Brun told me that a few years ago he had visited the Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco. He was part of an evangelizing mission. The missionaries visited a chief who was considered very wise. The chief, a quiet, fat man, listened without blinking to the religious propaganda that they read to him in his own language. When they finished, the missionaries awaited a reaction.

The chief took his time, then said:
"That scratches. It scratches hard and it scratches very well."

And then he added:
"But it scratches where there isn't any itch."


It happened at the entrance to the town of Ollantaytambo, near Cuzco. I had detached myself from a group of tourists and was standing alone looking at the stone ruins in the distance when a small boy from the neighborhood, skinny and ragged, came over to ask if I would give him a pen. I couldn't give him my pen because I was using it to write down all sorts of boring notes, but I offered to draw a little pig for him on his hand.

Suddenly the word got around. I was surrounded by a throng of little boys demanding at the top of their lungs that I draw animals on their little hands cracked by the dirt and cold, their skin of burnt leather: one wanted a condor and one a snake, others preferred little parrots and owls, and some asked for a ghost or a dragon.

Then, in the middle of this racket, a little waif who barely cleared a yard off the ground showed me a watch drawn in black ink on his wrist.

"An uncle of mine who lives in Lima sent it to me," he said.

"And does it keep good time?" I asked him.

"It's a bit slow," he admitted.

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