Vanity Fea

The Unforgivable


The Unforgivable

In Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, Saladin Chamcha se reúne tras la catástrofe con su futura ex, Pamela:

'I suppose,' she addressed her glass, sitting at the old pine table in the spacious kitchen, 'that what I did was unforgivable, huh?' 

Chamcha le contesta, "I don't think I can say what I'm capable of forgiving"... Pero acuerdan el divorcio. Y luego, cuando se va Chamcha (To be born again, first you have to die) le viene a la cabeza una historia sobre lo imperdonable:

Alone, he all at once remembered that he and Pamela had once disagreed, as they disagreed on everything, on a short-story they'd both read, whose theme was precisely the nature of the unforgivable. Title and author eluded him, but the story came back vividly. A man and a woman had been intimate friends (never lovers) for all their adult lives. On his twenty-first birthday (they were both poor at the time) she had given him, as a joke, the most horrible, cheap glass vase she could find, its colours a garish parody of Venetian gaiety. Twenty years later, when they were both successful and greying, she visited his home and quarrelled with him over his treatement of a mutual friend. In the course of the quarrel her eye fell upon the old vase, which he still kept in pride of place on his sitting-room mantlepiece, and, without pausing in her tirade, she swept it to the floor, smashing it beyhond hope of repair. He never spoke to her again; when she died, half a century later, he refused to visit her deathbed or attend her funeral, even though messengers were sent to tell him that these were her dearest wishes. 'Tell her,' he said to the emissaries, 'that she never knew how much I valued what she broke.' The emissaries argued, pleaded, raged. If she had not known how much meaning he had invested in the trifle, how could she in all fairness be blamed? And had she not made countless attempts, over the years, to apologize and atone? And she was dying, for heaven's sake; could not this ancient, childish rift be healed at the last? They had lost a lifetime's friendship; could they not even say goodbye? 'No,' said the unforgiving man.— 'Really because of the vase? Or are you concealing some other, darker matter?' —'It was the vase,' he answered, 'the vase, and nothing but.' Pamela thought the man petty and cruel, but Chamcha had even then appreciated this curious privacy, the inexplicable inwardness of the issue. 'Nobody can judge an internal injury,' he had said, 'by the size of the superficial wound, of the hole.'

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