Life is beautiful… and so I’m I

By Mario Vargas Llosa

 

This mountain stream wetting my feet grows as it flows down the mountain; it gets wider, and leaps around, drops over cliffs, forms lakes, and turns into a big, big, river that after it crosses the jungle “proudly dies, repelling the sea,” as the poet wrote.

 

But I wouldn’t trade this spot for any in the world–the water, and the rocks, and the reeds, and the trees. Why, I’ve come here to bathe every since I was old enough to remember. Even then everyo0ne said I was a beautiful little girl. In school they always chose me to play the Virgin Mary in the pageants. And later I was Youth Queen, and Queen of Springtime, and Miss Mérida. I was going to the Miss Venezuela contest, but my sweetheart didn’t like that idea, and I went along with him because I was very much in love. I still am, after eight years of being a married woman. He is a good man and he adores me, and he does everything he can to make me happy. He is a computer and computer systems technician and he has a very good position, with a good future. His company has promised to send him to the United States to take a course in systems enhancement, and right now that is my big dream. How I would love to see the shops in Miami, and take my son to Orlando, to see Disneyland.

 

My husband’s only fault is that he’s jealous. If he would see me like this, in my shorts, showing my legs, he would throw a real fit. If it was up to him, I’d be dressed like a nun all the time, covered from head to foot. Of course I don’t listen to him, and if he raises his voice to me, I raise mine, because those days when women were slaves to their husbands are far behind us. My husband has never laid a hand on me.

 

“It’s just that you have such pretty legs, and if you show them you’ll drive the men crazy,” he protests. “And what do you care if they go crazy, Silly, when you know my legs are all yours?” “But Mamita, I get really jealous when other men want you.” “What difference does it make what they think? You know your baby loves only you, Papito.” In spite of everything, we’re one couple that gets along great. And a little jealousy isn’t a bad thing, it adds spice to a marriage. And after we have a fight, it’s delicious to make up.

 

My son loves to come here and play, the way I did as a girl. He already knows how to swim, and he’s a good ballplayer. If he really wants to get my goat, he tells me that when he grows up he would like to be a taxi driver or a bullfighter. I tell him to forget that nonsense. He will be an engineer, or an architect, or a doctor, or a businessman. Some serious profession. One he’ll make a lot of money in.