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Cien años de soledad
I thought that life offered so many intriguing true stories that one did not need to listen to fantasies woven by the deranged minds of the storytellers

January 10, 2005

I was still a teenager when he first came to our house. My older sisters and my mother were all taken away by him and his charm. They were fascinated by the stories he told about far off places and people with strange sounding names. I sat at a corner a time or two and listened to him for a while, but to me he sounded awfully long-winded. He seemed foreign and the characters of his tales, with names I couldn't pronounce, seemed able to do strange, unbelievable things.

He talked about a place called Macondo that I wasn't sure even existed. In that place, a particular family, the Buendias, were of special interest to him. He talked about them ceaselessly. I immediately got confused with the names of the different members of that large family and completely lost interest in his stories. But my sisters and my mother listened attentively and with great enthusiasm.

After our house, I heard that he went to many, many other houses and was received with open arms everywhere. Quickly, people started talking about him and his stories. He became a legend in the realm of storytelling.

After that experience, I began hating fictitious stories and tall tales. I thought that life offered so many intriguing true stories that one did not need to listen to fantasies woven by the deranged minds of the storytellers. Tales in which people died and then got resurrected as if nothing had happened. Stories about flying people whose affairs were interwoven with those of demons and malevolent spirits. 

What a bunch of horseshit, I thought.

Later on in my life, I embarked on a journey of acquiring knowledge. I was interested in concrete, tangible facts only. Don't bore me with fiction and nonsense.

I then learned all that was there to learn. Read all the books. Visited all the learning establishments. Conversed with the elite whose brains were overflowing with concrete knowledge. Exchanged ideas and hypotheses with physicists and philosophers.

The elite then started appearing in my dreams. They were of varying shapes and sizes but one thing they all had in common; they all had legs of wood and they would lose their balance and fall over at my slightest poking.

I was getting tired of these recurring dreams, or nightmares, as they were turning into. I wished for better dreams with people whose legs weren't wooden. After many nights of waiting for the imagery to change it finally happened. I was taken to a strange, far off place called Macondo and my dream imagery got intricately interwoven into the lives of an extended family named the Buendias.

These were people who did strange things. They could die and get resurrected. They could fly and they all had magnificent sexual prowess. But when they were standing on the ground, they all had legs of steel. Nothing could move them or cause them to fall over. It was as if they were pinned to the earth. And when it was time to fly, they were light as feathers and would easily float in space.

I felt so much at peace browsing over the magnificent scenes that my dreams were now offering me. I couldn't wait for the night to arrive so that I could drown myself in the pleasant sleep that brought me Macondo and the stories of the Buendias.

These new dreams took me back to my teenage years and I somehow understood the fascination of my sisters and my mother with the storyteller who once came to our house and took their hearts away.

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Shahriar Zahedi


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My Uncle, Napoleon
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translated by Dick Davis

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