Memoirs of a student in manila Chapter

My First Reminiscence When I had not yet seen other rivers except the river of my town, crystalline and gay in its winding course, shaded by murmuring bamboo groves; when my world was only circumscribed by the bluish mountains of my province and the white surface of the lake that I discerned from after through some ruins, sparkling like a mirror and filled with graceful sails, I like stories very much and I believed with all my heart everything the books contained, convinced hat what was printed must perforce be the truth.

And why not, since my parents, who punished me for the smallest lie, emphatically enjoyed me to attend to my books, to read them diligently and understand them. My first remembrance concerning letters goes back to my earliest age. I must be very small yet because when they polished the floor of our house with banana leaves, I would still fall slipping on the shiny surface as did the little skilled skaters on ice.

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It was still difficult for me to climb up a chair, I went down the stairs step by step, holding on to every baluster, and in our house s in the whole town, petroleum was unknown, or had seen until that time any quinine, (34) nor had any carriage ever passed through the streets of my town that I believed to be the sum(35) of joy and animation.

One night, when everybody at home was already asleep, when all the lights in the globes (36) had already been put out by blowing them off by means of a curved tin tube which seemed to me the most exquisite and wonderful toy in the world, I don’t know why my mother and I had remained watching beside the only light that in all Philippine houses burned all night long, and that went UT precisely at dawn waking the people with its cheerful hissing. My mother then was still young. After a bath her hair which she let down to dry, dragged half a handbreadths on the floor, by which reason she knotted its end.

She taught me to read in Amigo De ISO Inso, a very rare book, an Old edition, which had lost its cover and which a eve industrious sister of mine had covered again by pasting on its back a thick blue paper, the remnant of the wrapper off bolt of cloth. My mother undoubtedly annoyed at hearing me read pitifully, for, as didn’t understand Spanish, could not give meaning o the phrases, took away the book from me. After scolding me for the drawings I had made on its pages, with legs and arms extended like a cross, she began to read asking me to follow her example.

My mother, when she cold still see, read very well, recited, and knew how to make verses. How many times during Christmas vacation afterwards, she corrected my poems, making very apt observations. Listened to her full of childish admiration. Marveling at the ease with which she made them and at the sonorous phrases that she cold get from some pages that cost me so much effort to read and that I deciphered haltingly. Perhaps my ears soon got tired of hearing sounds that to me meant nothing.

Perhaps due to my natural distraction, I gave little attention to the reading and watched more closely the cheerful flame around which some small moths fluttered with playful and uneven flight, perhaps yawned, be it what it might, the case was that my mother, realizing the little interest that showed, stopped her reading and said to me: “I’m going to read to you a very pretty story; be attentive. ” Upon hearing the word story opened my eyes expecting a new and wonderful one. I looked at my mother who leafed through the book as if coking for it, and I got ready to listen with impatience and wonder. Didn’t suspect that in that old book that I read without understanding, there could be stories and pretty stories. My mother began to read to me the fTABLE of the young and the old moths, translating it to me piece by piece into Toggle. At the first verses my attention redoubled in such a way that I looked towards the light and fixed my attention on the moths that fluttered around it. The story could not have been more opportune. My mother emphasized and commented a great deal on the warnings of the old moth and directed them o me as if to tell me that these applied to me. Sistine to her and what a rare phenomenon the light seemed to me more beautiful each time, the flame brighter, and I even envied instinctively the fate of those insects that played so cheerfully in its magical exhalation. Those that had succumbed were drowned in the oil; they didn’t frighten me. My mother continued her reading, I listened anxiously, and the fate of the two insects interested me intensely. The light agitated its golden tongue on one side, a singed moth in one of these movements fell into the oil, clapped its wings for sometime and died.

That assumed for me that the flame and the moths were moving far away, very far, and that my mother’s voice acquired a strange, sepulchral timbre. My mother finished the fTABLE. I was not listening all my attention, all my mind and all my thoughts were concentrated on the fate of that moth, young, dead, full of illusions. “You see? ” my mother said to me taking me to bed. “Don’t imitate the young moth and don’t be disobedient; you’ll get burned like it. ” don’t know if I replied, promised something, or cried. The only thing I remember is that it took me a long time before I could sleep.

That story had revealed to m e tings unknown to me until then. To me moths ceased to be insignificant insects; moths talked and knew how to warn and advise as well as my mother did. The light seemed to be more beautiful, dazzling, attractive. Understand why moths fluttered around lights. Advices and warnings resounded feebly in my ears. What preoccupied me most was the death of the imprudent, but at the bottom of my heart, didn’t blame it. My mother’s solicitude didn’t have all the success that she hoped it would.

No; many years have elapsed; the child has become a man; has plowed sailed Aside] the most famous foreign rivers and meditated besides their copious streams. The steamship has taken him across the seas and all the oceans; he has climbed the region of perpetual snow on mountains very much higher than the Mangling of his province. From experience he has received bitter lessons, Oh, infinitely more than the sweet lesson that his mother gave him, and nevertheless the man preserves the heart of a child and he believes that light is the most beautiful thing there is in creation and that it is worthy for a man to sacrifice his life for it.

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