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[24] Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

51 years, 9 months, 4 days – which was how long Florentino had waited.

Fifty-one years ago, Fermina Daza felt madly in love with Florentino Ariza. The affair was made possible only through her aunt’s complicity. But under her father’s tight regime and thus his intransigence of her love affair, Fermina eventually broke all ties with Florentino and married Dr. Juvenal Urbino, a wealthy, eminent doctor who merited in fighting cholera along the Caribbean coast by implementing stringent measures. What followed Fermina’s denial of his love was an austerely beautiful story of unrequited love that had still not ended half a century later. They were two people, ambushed by death, who no longer had anything in common except the distant memory of an ephemeral past that was no longer theirs but belonged to two young people who had vanished with no vestige.

Heartrending but not forlorn, it was during this long period of time (almost all his life) that Florentino changed his entire being. He whiled the years away by engaging in 622 affairs and maintained some link with his lovers but reserved his heart for the irreplaceable Fermina. The idea of substituting one love for another carried him along surprising paths that permitted him to find solace in other hearts for his pain.

Florentino, whose only point of reference in his own life was the love affair with Fermina, made a fierce decision to win fame and fortune in order to deserve Fermina. In his demented passion, he did not even consider the obstacle of her being married to the doctor but regarded it an ineluctable event that he resolved to wait without impatience or petulance, even till the end of time. When meeting the doctor, he could not bear the pangs of grief at the thought that the admirable man would have to die in order for him to be happy. Florentino understood both he and the doctor were poignantly subjected to the ineluctable fate of loving the same woman.

As the bell tolling resonated citywide for Doctor Juvenal Urbino, who died of a broken spine when he fell from the branch of a mango tree catching a parrot, death had interceded on his behalf after half a century of longing and imbued him the courage to repeat his vow of everlasting love to Fermina. So he planned to attend the funeral…

Love in the Time of Cholera is a tapestry of the complicated human emotions: love, repression, nostalgia, sex, concupiscence, and pride. It is a tale of morbidly repressed love, of passion, of obsession, and of indomitable longing and fulfillment. Garcia Marquez, with an incredulously detached voice and matter-of-fact manner, slowly unfolds the story with succulent details and lyrical exuberance. Piercing fluidity and precision of words accentuate the beauty of prose. Peripheral characters are no less etched and are vividly limned to the essence of their thoughts and emotions. The book is riddled with an air of melancholy and repression that is held redeemable by an undying hope.

2 Responses

  1. Beautiful commentary that truly does the book and author justice!

  2. Loved reading your thoughts on this one. This is perhaps my most favorite book.

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