214 pearls around the neck
Author: Susana Maria Bavio, Argentina, 2011
English translators: Cynthia Jaramillo, Susan Surrat
Illustration: Catherine Beeckman
For years I endured the sorrows, secrets and miseries of the Belisario family. I was always a silent
witness to the happenings developing at their home. So many events have ended up overwhelming me.
Maybe, if I could talk about them, express them out loud, it would ease my soul. I would finally be
happy. This afternoon, a woman came up to the porch. Elena Belisario invited her to the dining room
and offered tea. They chatted animatedly for a while. I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
Between sips, the English teacups would rise and fall from the little dishes to their mouths, lit up with
lipstick. Every once in a while the woman would point slanted stares in my direction. Her curious eyes
appeared loaded with an odd anxiety. Then Elena invited her to the living room. Now I could hear her
voice clearly. I could see her up close. For a moment, the visitor stood in front of me and watched me
in silence, meticulously, from head to toes, marveling. But for a split second I thought I saw a desolate
abyss growing in her pupils. And I wondered why she was looking at me like that. Maybe I reminded
her of herself, or probably her own mother. What was she searching for in me? I’m just an old woman
who, sitting in an old wicker chair, knits, immersed in the oscillating motion of the needles, as the late
light of the day threatens the daisies resting in the little convent’s yard, bound between the four edges
of a heavy wooden frame, beautifully layered with gold.
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