El Mandarín / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Mandarin

I had lost the grace of the emperor of China.
     I couldn’t address the citizens without warning them explicitly about my degradation.
     A rival accused me of having extracted myself from my parents’ visit when they pressed the eardrum placed at the door of my audience.
     My servants denied me the two old people, expired and toothless, and sent them away with blows from sticks.
     I prostrated myself at the feet of the emperor when he was descending to his garden from the granite stairwell. I recovered his favor by comparing his face to the moon.
     He entrusted me with the conquest and governance of a remote district, which had been overcome by disorder. I took advantage of the occasion to test my loyalty.
     Misery had roused the natives. They were agonizing from hunger in the company of their furious dogs. The women were abandoning their creatures to horrifying pigs. It was impossible to plow the ground without provoking the emergence and diffusion of pestilent miasmas. Those beings wept at the birth of a son and they scrupulously saved up to buy a coffin.
     I reestablished the peace by beheading the men and selling their skulls as amulets. My soldiers then cut off the hands of all the women.
     The emperor honored me with his visit, he promoted me a few degrees in his favor and promised the disappearance of my rivals.
     He smiled broadly when he noticed the arms of women turned into canes.
     The daughters of my rivals went out to beg on the roads.

Las formas del fuego (1929)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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