Thursday, June 28, 2012
Sister Marleny’s Dilemma
(Summer of 2011, Concepción, riverside Cafe)
The smile diminished on Sister Marleny’s face. She waited in timorous silence to hear what Rosa—Dr. Evens’ wife was going to say to the proprietor at the outside, riverside fish café in Concepcion. Rosa had been complaining about the trifle, and skimpy amount of fish she was given by the waitress, plus it had bones in it, which she had told the waitress specifically, she didn’t want.
They were on the edge of a small embankment, the river to the left side of Dr. Evens, one could hear in the background the turbulent white waters of the river, and it was tranquilizing.
—Why did you give me this skimpy order of fish that has bones in it? She complained to the proprietor.
It appeared obvious to Dr. Evens the owner felt she was a sly one, you know, as if she felt butter didn’t melt in her mouth. Actually he didn’t want to replace the order; he was trying to persuade her to accept it—manipulate her into believing what she ordered is what she got, but there were nonetheless bones in it.
—Might I ask you what you are talking about. The Proprietor said courteously.
—Indeed you might, answered Rosa; Sister Marleny sitting across from her, inquisitive. And Rosa thinking, so it comes into view: ‘What part of this does he not understand?’ (It was obvious what she had said.)
On the other hand I think Sister Marleny was thinking ‘By gosh, she’s ripping isn’t she’… I mean, the proprietor was trying to convince Rosa what she ordered is what she got, but Rosa stood firm, said:
—If you think there are no bones in this fish, eat it and find out!
Well, this was not to his liking, and he refused of course to taste it. A shaft of momentary anger threw Dr. Evens, his mind, his eyes thinking: why not just change the order instead of playing with these coarse insinuations, it was nothing amusing and perhaps the Proprietor saw this in Evens’ face, thus, he started to show interest and regard for Rosa’s wants and wishes: the gloomy tenderness he was showing was wearing on him, in the end. Then abruptly, a pleasantry came over him, his face now painted like a little boy’s, no more impatience, he agreed to exchange the order for another: one less problematical.
The proprietor had looked, glanced at Sister Marleny a few times during this row, it really was her spot, her secret café, away from it all, and they knew one another—hence, the owner knew her, and his expression was as if saying so—as if saying:
—We admit that we are fairly fond of sister Marleny and therefore we’ll do as you ask, but you Mrs. Evens can’t play the saint—then he escaped to make the order.
A soft peal of laughter escaped from Dr. Evens’ lips, bending over to eat his trout; Sister Marleny to his side, as if in unserious caution.
Rosa’s moment of anger had already passed—they all simply washed the unpleasant chitchat off the table as if into the residing river, and their friendship stood in no danger. Although it must be said, seldom within the cafes throughout the little villages of the Andes of Peru, do people complain of food or service—it is as if a scarce commodity.
For Sister Marleny Rojas