Monday, March 03, 2003

"Shhhh", my grandmother whispered. "I will tell you the story that never ends. Now listen, Ricardo. Deep in an old forest, untouched by men, where animals had not yet forgotten how to speak to each other, there lived a little rabbit, a small creature who made his way in the world by living off the fruits and plants of the forest. Every morning he would rise early, right before dawn and hop out of his burrow to greet the sun, embracing the new day. 'Today is a good day!' he would tell himself silently. The world is alive and I am a creature within it! After finishing his breakfast, he would setout to greet his friends."

His friends were many and included other animals - the thrifty squirrels, the wise owls, the chirping birds. As he greeted each creature, they would share stories, their plans, their misfortunes, tales about their day. My grandmother would vary the story each time. Perhaps the squirrels were concerned about lost food or one of the birds had injured its wing. Little by little, my grandmother was constructing a small world, a fixed place in my imagination. After the rabbit had made its rounds, he would inevitably encounter the fox. The fox was a suspect character, speaking in double meanings and it was clear that he intended to eat the rabbit. The rabbit, thinking quickly, proposes that he tell the fox a story and if the fox is pleased then he would let the rabbit go otherwise he would be eaten. The fox agrees, thinking that he could eat the rabbit in either case.

And so the rabbit begins,"Here is the story. Deep in an old forest, untouched by men..." My grandmother would continue, retelling the story, with small variations up until the rabbit met the fox again and, if I was not yet asleep, would continue, going deeper, telling the story within the story within the story... El cuento de nunca acabar.

This story my grandmother would whisper to me as a small child, intimately, as I lay in my bed. Her soothing voice, the story which was familiar and yet kept unraveling in my mind - provoking small questions (What happened "after" the story? Were the rabbit and fox trapped in an endless game?) were the last fragments of this world that I carried with me into my dreams.

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