My dear Dragon, in any case, of all the dragons of the world, you are the most wonderful! Your mother was an exquisite sausage princess who had a sulphurous affair with a police dog…From that atomic fusion, dear Dragon, you were born as the synthesis of the thesis and the antithesis. With you the conflict of the opposites is over and the eternal battle between the intelligence and the stick comes to an end.
When you entered my life in Tilcara, some thirty-five years ago, you were only a puppy given by a nice boy of the village to my son Edu. He and I welcomed you, filled with joy, like a little star fallen from above.
Your childhood was a non-stop running of mischievousness and laughs. With the time, you sat down and you became my secretary and confidant. After dinner, lying like a mat on the floor you would listen with patience the monologues in Spanish and in French of the incorrigible dreamer that I always have been. At times, you would look at me with bored eyes, but you would never grumble. To express your opinion, you would waggle your tail.
In the altar area of the church, you would begin by shaking yourself up from the fleas and to scratch yourself where you were bitten; and then, you would lie between the two cactus wooden legs of the altar. Coiled up on the red carpet, you would stoically listen to my never-ending sermons. At times, you would applaud with your ears, other times, you would simply yawn.
You were sensual. Because of your maternal ancestry, you adored all the pleasures of life: cushions, sofas, the golden armchair covered of episcopal velvet… But because of your paternal ancestry you would look for trouble and rumpus. You would roam in the streets, you would sneak everywhere, you were cheeky and roguish. At times, you were having the gracious bearing of a prince, but often you looked like a lout.
Great seducer, you let yourself be kidnapped for weeks by a lady doctor who gave you your bath, perfumed you, dressed you with tulle and had you sleep in her bed between silk sheets. You were also for two to three months the escort of a lady teacher; you would accompany her in the mountains, on a rocky path, walking together back and forth between Tilcara and the small school of Alfarcito. If by chance I would catch you taking too much advantage of the kindness of those big-hearted people, you would turn your head away, pretending not to know me…
In the whole town of Tilcara, few were the houses where you did not feel at home, and few the solitudes you did not share. If the drums, the sikus and the cracked bell of the church had not been an unbearable torture for your ears, you would have been the first to dance at the carnival and sing in the processions. And never in your life would you have missed one of those peacefully noisy manifestations which simply required that our crooked world be changed from top to bottom.
Anyway, I suspect that beyond your love for the dolce vita, you had a soft spot for the poor and for justice, for the cause of those who disappeared during the dictatorship, for Women Rights and for the Earth, for freedom and democracy, for the affirmation of the indigenous culture, and for a Church that would not prostitute itself with money and guns (I end here, otherwise people will think that it is self-projection…). Still, I think that you succeeded to understand before me that the struggles between good and evil, or between the right and the left, are often very self destroying on the long run, and that the path towards a decent future is, before all else, to be gauchos.
You would spend nights flirting with the First Canine Lady of the village on the roof of the mayor’s residence. But at sunrise, you would jump over at the nearby Sisters and weave your way in their mini chapel. The Sisters were members of your fan club, and you liked to be with them for the morning prayers. Luisa, the most kind and the eldest of the community, was your favourite. You would cling to her skirt and, between two psalms, she would gently pet you. As a good daughter of St. Francis, she would turn a blind eye to your private life and see no trace of the slightest flaw. In the afternoon, she would go out to work to help her neighbors, while you, so as to regain your strength eroded by your nocturnal excesses, you would take a nap like an angel on her immaculate bed.
You fought with the most terrifying mastiffs, the most snobbish and the most ill-mannered of Tilcara; they have gashed through your face with their huge teeth and have left on your body the glorious stitches of countless scars. Those famous wars have still brought you to conquer the most sophisticated females in town. You have populated the region with many kids that carry on until now your work of civilisation.
In the parish, when ended the war of missiles, you did not join force with the old Teutonic priest who had succeeded in getting his hands on the parish and already was preparing for war so as to put the minds of the village through his Taliban theology. For not one second did you let yourself be intimidated by him. During his first mass, you were in the church as usual, rolled up under the altar table. At the moment the first words of that creep squealed in your ears, you bounced on your behind, raised a leg slowly and copiously watered the cactus wooden leg of the altar table. And then, calmly, you relaxed your ears as a sign of supreme indifference, spread out your tail like an antenna, lifted your head and went down the central aisle of the church with the dignity of a Viltipoco getting back his lost glory. Never again did you set paws in that church that you loved, and where you were one of the most assiduous faithful. Never.
From a window in the skies, God had seen everything. Even today, He remembers that scene with pleasure, marveling at the guts you had as a Dragon and at the remarkable soundness of your discernment.
Years went by. I was in far-away China when a letter reached me from Tilcara. In that letter were described your last moments on this Earth. One day, carrying on your back your sixteen years of life as a dog, you climbed one by one half of the narrow steps of the Escalinata (high staircase of the village which links two areas separated by a steep slope). You arrived almost a moribund at the house of Norma Maine. It is from that place that you had decided to say goodbye to the world.
Norma and her children welcomed you with emotion. Up to your last breath, they lavished you with tenderness. Still, your days were counted. When the moment to leave came, a mysterious sensation of cold fell over you; it swept up to your bones and your teeth were chattering. – The Bible says that, on the point of dying, the old king David (another mischievous one loved by God) was stricken also by a terrible attack of cold. But by putting Abishag, a young good looking girl in the bed of the king, the old man bucked up and left for the hereafter without shaking. - That highly instructive story was not known by Norma and her children; nevertheless, they reproduced it to perfection. Seeing you shaking so much, the children ran to their neighbor to borrow a young cute female dog that they hastened to place against your freezing bones. Gradually, a bit of warmth spread in your being, and calm came. You therefore were to leave this world with the same consolations than king David, that old womanizer and brave vanquisher of Goliath, the giant…
When your time came, Norma and the children cried their eyes out. Norma went on her knees praying God that he would inspire her the best gesture that would help you to leave without pain. Unconsciously, she already had in her hands a water pitcher; without hesitation, she baptized you!
And so you died as a Catholic, my dear Dragon... Not as a Catholic of the imperial Church of the golden pointed hats and of the corporals, but as a Catholic of a large anonymous Church without walls, tender and courageous, made up of ordinary people who often do unauthorized things by the books, but usually follow their good heart and never turn their backs on the cribs and the calvaries of this world.
The three angels of the Escalinata carried your body of Dragon over Tilcara, on the flanks of the Black Mountain. They buried you in secret, at about 300 meters higher than the cross, in line with where the sun rises in the morning. It is from that place that your little soul of Dragon went on its trip on the old footpath in zigzag - and not yet totally erased - « which links the valley to the stars»…You have returned quietly to the country where you came from.
Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages