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she sang boleros

At chowcito there was always a show after the show was over and now there was a rumbera dancing to the beat of the Victrola and now she stood up and told a passing waiter, Papi, put some reflectors on her and we're on the go, and the waiter went and removed the pooch once and again and again, but since the music went off every time the Victrola was turned off, the rumbera stayed in the air and walked some strange, long corridors, with her tremendous body and stretched out a sepia leg, earth now, chocolate now, tobacco now, sugar, brown now, cinnamon now, coffee now, latte now, honey now, shiny from sweat, smooth from dancing, right now letting her skirt up her round, polished knees and cuttlefish and cinnamon and tobacco and coffee and honey, over her long, full, elastic, perfect thighs and her face was thrown back, up, to one side, to the other, left and right, back again, back always, back hitting the back of the neck, on the low-cut back and radiant and tobacco, back and forth, moving the hands, the arms, the shoulders of a skin of incredible eroticism, incredibly sensual, incredible always, moving them above the breasts, to the front, on the full and hard breasts, loose obviously, standing up obviously, obviously smooth: the rumbera with nothing underneath, Olivia, her name was, she is still called in Brazil, now without a partner, on the loose, free now, with the face of a terribly perverted girl who is also incredibly innocent, inventing the movement, the dance, the rumba now in front of my eyes: all the movement, all Africa, all the females, all the dance, all life in front of my eyes and me without a damn camera, and behind me The Star who saw everything and he said, You like it, you like it, and he got up from the throne of his stool and when the rumbera hadn't finished yet, he went to the record player, to the pooch, saying, So much nonsense, he turned it off, started it almost furiously, like foaming with profanity at the mouth and said, It's over, now comes the music. And without music, I mean without an orchestra, without an accompanist, she began to sing an unknown, new song that came from her chest, from her two huge tits, from her barrel belly, from that monstrous body, and she barely let me remember the tale of the whale he sang at the opera, because he put more than just the fake, sugar-coated, sentimental, fake sentiment into the song, none of the sugar-coated nonsense, the commercially fabricated sentiment of the feeling, but true feeling and his voice came out soft, pasty, liquid, with oil now, a colloidal voice that flowed from his whole body like the plasma of his voice and suddenly I shivered. It had been a long time since something moved me like this and I began to smile out loud, because I had just recognized the song, to laugh, to burst out laughing because it was Night Watch and I thought, Agustín you haven't invented anything, you haven't composed anything, this woman is inventing your song for you now: come tomorrow and pick it up and copy it and put it under your name again: Night Watch is born tonight. 

The Star sang more. He seemed tireless. Once they asked him to sing The party and she, stopped, one foot in front of the other, the successive rolls of her arms on the great swell of rolls of her hip, hitting the ground with a great sandal that was a boat sinking under the ocean of rolls of her legs, hitting, clanging the boat against the ground, repeatedly, throwing his sweaty face, the face of a wild animal, of a bald boar, his whiskers dripping sweat, throwing out all the ugliness of his face, his eyes now smaller, more evil, more hidden under the eyebrows that existed only like two visors of fat where the line of the makeup eyebrows is drawn with a darker chocolate, her whole face in front of her infinite body, she answered, The Star sings nothing but boleros, she said and added, Sweet songs, with feeling, from the heart to the lips and from the mouth to your ear, baby, just so you know, and began to sing, We, inventing the ill-fated Pedrito Junco, turning his mournful song into a true song , and n a vigorous song, full of powerful and true nostalgia. La Estrella sang more, she sang until eight in the morning, without us knowing that it was eight in the morning until the waiters began to collect everything and one of them, the cashier, said, Sorry, family, and he wanted to say Really, family, he didn't say the word just to say it, say family and say something quite different from family, but he wanted to say real family, he said: Family, we have to close. But before, a little before, before that, a guitarist, a good guitarist, a skinny guy, dickhead, a simple and noble mulatto, who didn't have a job because he was very modest and very natural and very good, but a great guitarist, who knew how to extract strange melodies from a fashionable song, no matter how cheap and commercial it was, who knew how to extract feeling from the bottom of the guitar, who could extract the seed from between the strings of any song, any melody, at any rhythm, at that who is missing a leg and has a wooden leg and a gardenia in his buttonhole, always, to whom we affectionately and jokingly called the Niño Nené, imitating the flamenco singing children, the Niño Sabicas or the Niño de Utrera or the Nino de Parma, Nino Nené, said, asked, Let me accompany you in a bolero, Estrella, and La Estrella replied very arrogantly, putting her hand to her chest and slapping her huge boobs two or three times, No, Niñito, no, told her, The Star always sings alone: she plenty of music. Then it was that he sang Bad night, doing his later famous parody of Cuba Venegas, in which we all died laughing and then he sang Night and day and then it was that the cashier asked us to leave. And since the night was over, we left. 


fragment of Three sad tigers, Barcelona, Editorial Seix Barral, 1991, pp.66-69.

William Cabrera Infante More posts

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