Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chisme 101

The story is that I got a horse for 1,900,000 Guaranies, a decent price. I’m learning to ride it well. I go out in the countryside to let the tension in my body release, to remember that there are tadpoles and wildflowers and the whole world isn’t ao po’i and irregular verbs.

The story is that I got a horse for 2,500,000 Guaranies, that I got totally ripped off. The story is I was thrown from the horse. And the latest story is that I go out in the countryside to meet men, that people have seen me out there with them.

That’s the story, and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. As soon as a hear it, my helplessness spread from my chest all through my body, fight or flight. Gossip is a ghost that has a life of its own, so I can’t just punch it. And to fly away from everywhere that people whispered is to never stop fleeing. So I sit here with it. My little nature walks, perhaps the thing in which I am most innocent, turned into something so seedy.

Oscar gave me one of his talks, where he says, “Let me tell you how it is.” He said that any little spark, a girl stopping on the corner to talk to her classmate, for example, could light the chisme fire. The next day, the corner is his bed and talking is another verb.

A widow who goes out in the countryside to collect branches to make brooms is said to go out there to meet men. When someone gets new shoes, people say he stole to something else. When Oscar was younger, people said he was a drug addict. Though he’d never even smoked a cigarette, his mom beat him anyway.

Any woman walking alone can be a target. Hadn’t I ever noticed that his sister never went out alone? I hadn’t. It’s sad, really, he said, to be a woman here.

At what level now do I give in? Another volunteer suggested I bring a little kid with me every time I go. That seems silly. I like to be alone.

I guess I have my people who know me, and the rest will talk. Though it makes me crazy to think how those groups might overlap. Providing something to talk about in terere circles, my service to the community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lol....As a paraguayan I know what you mean! The city is not like that at all....small towns are the worst for chisme...and our people love that specially if there is terere and merienda involved!