Liniers in his blog published a beautiful goodbye.
But those times I talked about her music and poems, that's why today I'd like to remember one of her short stories. Or at least one of my favourites. It's deliciously ironic and sentimental at one time, funny and profound and has, no doubt, a perfect structure.
It is "El país de la Geometría" ("The Geometry Country"), first published in the 1974 short story collection El diablo inglés (The British Devil). Afterwards it was released, narrated by the author herself on the LP record Cuentopos, with music by Oscar Cardozo Ocampo.
Here it can be listened to (don't be fools silly fools and please do!) in this Uruguayan site.
And now the text:
The Geometry Country
Once upon a time there was a large white paper country. The king of this country was the compass. Why not?
The Compass. Here he comes with his two skinny legs: one pricks and the other doesn’t.
Ho, ho, ho ho.One pricks and the other doesn’t.
King Compass lived in a great palace made of cardboard shaped like an icosahedron, with eighteen little windows.
Any one of us would have been happy to live in a palace like that, but not King Compass.
Because to be happy and completely a king he needed to find the famous Round Flower.
Ho, ho, ho, ho, hoNot without the Round Flower.
King Compass had a mighty Army of Diamonds, a Guard of flashy Triangles, a Police Squadron of hefty Trapezoids, a Sindicate of elegant straight lines, but… he lacked the main thing. To own the famous Round Flower.
The King had planted in his patio two vertical Parallels that served as watchmen. The Parallels grew, grew and grew...
Frequently the King climbed on them to scan the horizon to see if someone was bringing the Flower, but nobody did.
He had sent forth hundreds of expeditions to search for her and nobody had been able to find her.
One day the Captain of the Diamonds had asked him:
“And what is the use of that flower, Mr. King?”
“Fool, silly Fool!” Thundered the King. “Only silly fools ask what a flower’s use is!”
And Captain Diamond, afraid that the King might prick him, slowly slided out of the door sideways.
Another day, the Commanders of the Triangles asked him:
“We’ve covered all the angles of the country without finding her, Mr. King. We almost believe she doesn’t exist. Might I ask, what is the use of this flower?
“Fool, silly fool!” thundered the King. “Only silly fools ask what the use of a flower is!”
The Commander of the Triangles, fearful lest the King should prick him, went out quietly and sideways out of one of the eighteen windows of the Palace.
Another afternoon, the Secretary of the straight Lines Syndicate appeared before the King and was bold enough to say:
“Wouldn’t you like to get some other, more useful thing, Sire? Because, after all, What’s the use of a flower?
“Fool, silly fool!” thundered the King, “Only silly fools ask what the use of a flower is”.
Poor Miss Straight Line, afraid that the King would prick her, slipped away down a little hole in the floor.
Some little time later, the Trapezoids arrived, battered and melancholy after a long expedition.
“Well? Did you find the Round Flower? Asked the King impatiently.
“Not a trace, Your Majesty.
“And what the Devil did you find?”
“Ice Cubes, three dices, a ruler and a little box.
“Fed up!! I’m fed up of angles and straight lines and points! You’re all squares!!
This last insult was a great offence to the Triangles.
"I’m fed up and miserable! I want to find the famous Round Flower!"
And they all had to chorus the song that had already become the country’s Hymn.
Not without the Round Flower
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.
The King’s subjects, to take his mind off the whole business, decided to organize a football match.
The bleachers were full of excited Points. The Diamonds were challenging the Triangles.
Finally, the Triangles won, 1 to 0 (an astonishing feat if one considers that the ball was a cube). The Captain of the Diamonds went off to a corner to weep about his defeat.
The Commander of the Triangles, tired and triumphant, drew near the King:
“Well? Did you enjoy the match, Your Majesty?”
“Bah, bah!” said the King, absentmindedly, with his one track mind “Let’s not waste time on matches; tomorrow we all leave on an expedition.”
“Tomorrow? But we’re all very tired, Mr. King. The match lasted seven hours; you have no idea how tiring it is to play with a cube-shaped ball.”
“Fool, silly fool! We leave tomorrow.”
Early next morning the King reviewed his troops. He had decided to head the expedition himself. Diamonds, Squares, Triangles, Trapezoids and Straight Lines stood in line, awfully sleepy and escorted by a few Points who had been recruited as volunteers.
There they all go, in search of the famous, mysterious, coy, Round Flower.
The King’s expedition crossed desolate pages and copybooks,
ink rivers, dense pencil shaving forests, India rubber mountain ranges. Searching, always searching for the blessed flower. China
They inspected every angle, every corner, every nook, under wind, rain, sleet and sun glare.
“I give up”, said the King at last. “Maybe you were right and that blessed Flower doesn’t exist. Maybe you weren’t all such silly fools as I thought. Let’s go back home.”
When they got back, the King locked himself up in his room, terribly sad and miserable.
A little while later Mrs. Line went in bringing him his little chalk soup and was very worried at seeing him so sad.
“Mr. King”, she said to comfort him “Don’t you know that it is always better to sing and dance than to mope?”
When Mrs. Line had slithered away under the door, the King, who wasn’t deaf to advice, said:
“Well, all right, let’s try: Tra la la.” And he sang and danced a little.
Dancing, dancing, dancing, he found out, to his great surprise, that he had drawn a beautiful Round Flower on the floor of his room. And he kept on dancing till he had drawn flowers and more flowers and they soon became a garden.
Ho, ho, ho, hoAnd the Flower he did draw.
María Elena Walsh
(English translation by María Lía Macchi)
Isn't it lovely?
It seemed perfectly well as a farewell to someone who must have searched a lot during her life and, more than once, would have discovered that what she was looking for could be found in herself.