Thursday, January 8, 2015

She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 4)

Conchita at 12 years old
The Apple Tree

Others wander down the paths to their homes chatting with one another, or sit down with their neighbors to pass the time on the stone seats next to the house doorways. The children, as usual, play . . . where they can and how they can. To get away from the calm silence and solitude, most of the boys and girls walk to the square. In this group the games and amusements must not have been very entertaining since one of them—a personable young brunette with braids—to escape the boredom ending the evening that Sunday like any other, suddenly got an idea which she swiftly whispered in the ear of the girl next to her . She herself would confess it months later.(6)

Temptation at Dusk
It was a Sunday evening, and we were with all the young girls playing in the plaza.(7)
Suddenly Mari Cruz(8) and I thought of going to pick apples.

6. Conchita González was her name. She was the last child, the only girl among the offspring of Aniceta González, a woman from the village who had lost her husband prematurely.
At the beginning of our story Conchita was twelve years old; she was a gracious young girl, very observant, with a quick mind. However in education she was backward like all the young girls in Garabandal. Her culture could not advance much beyond what she learned at the school in her secluded little village.
On someone’s recommendation, Conchita started writing her diary in 1962. In it, in the language of a child, short and to the point, she would tell things that she could not blot out from her memory. I have in my hands photocopies of the original. The pages are large, on a school notebook, written down in wobbly penmanship, with many faults in spelling; but truly charming in what they say.
Her diary begins like this:
I am going to tell in this book about my apparitions and my daily life.
The most important happening in my life occurred on June 18, 1961, in San Sebastián . . .
It happened in the following way . . .


····················································· Note: All excerpts from Conchita’s Diary will be recognizable in this book by the usage of this extra-bold type. ·····················································

And we set off straight to the place where they were, without telling anyone that we were going to pick the apples.
The idea of picking apples was a real temptation. The apples did not belong either to Mari Cruz or to Conchita; so that this was an actual theft, that is to say, the sin of stealing. During those evening hours, the devil was in action among the inhabitants of Garabandal. He was luring two young adolescent girls to the tree of forbidden fruit—almost as in the beginning of time. We do not know if they, like Eve in the beginning, showed resistance to the tempter’s suggestions; if there was any resistance, it had to be very weak.
The girls, seeing that the two of us were going away alone, asked us, Where are you going?
And we answered, Over there . . .
And we continued on our way, thinking about how we were going to manage to pick them.
Once there,(9) we started to pick the apples.
And while we were having a good time, we saw Loli, Jacinta,(10) and another young girl coming to see if they could find us.

7. The Plaza is the name given to this place in the center of the village, since it is an open area from which many streets and alleys take their origin. But it should not be imagined that it is the same type of plaza as in a big city; the ground is unpaved and uncared for, dusty or muddy when it rains, full of loose stones, and covered with debris from the constant passage of men, wagons and animals. 8. Mari Cruz González was the daughter of Escolástico and Pilar. She was 11 years old at the time, thin and dark-skinned and wore her hair very short. 9. This place was a small garden leading out from the village in the direction of the Pines. Apparently the garden was not the property of the teacher, but of a woman called Pilar Cuenca. 10. Loli (María Dolores Mazón) was the second daughter of Ceferino and Julia, who had a large family. Ceferino was the mayor of the village, and besides having pastures for farming like everyone else in Garabandal, also owned a little store or tavern. Jacinta had the last name of González too, just like Conchita and Mari Cruz. Jacinta’s parents were María and Simón, two Christians of strong faith who bore with dignity the life of sacrifice imposed on them by an existence deprived of material possessions. Loli and Jacinta were 12 years old, and were likable children. The girl who came with them was Virginia, whom everyone called Ginia.