Uit: Eva Luna (Vertaald door Margaret Sayers Peden)
“My name is Eva, which means “life,” according to a book of names my mother consulted. I was born in the back room of a shadowy house, and grew up amidst ancient furniture, books in Latin, and human mummies, but none of those things made me melancholy, because I came into the world with a breath of the jungle in my memory. My father, an Indian with yellow eyes, came from the place where the hundred rivers meet; he smelled of lush growing things and he never looked directly at the sky, because he had grown up beneath a canopy of trees, and light seemed indecent to him. Consuelo, my mother, spent her childhood in an enchanted region where for centuries adventurers have searched for the city of pure gold the conquistadors saw when they peered into the abyss of their own ambitions. She was marked forever by that landscape, and in some way she managed to pass that sign on to me.
Missionaries took Consuelo in before she learned to walk; she appeared one day, a naked cub caked with mud and excrement, crawling across the footbridge from the dock like a tiny Jonah vomited up by some freshwater whale. When they bathed her, it was clear beyond a shadow of doubt that she was a girl, which must have caused no little consternation among them; but she was already there and it would not do to throw her into the river, so they draped her in a diaper to cover her shame, squeezed a few drops of lemon into her eyes to heal the infection that had prevented her from opening them, and baptized her with the first female name that came to mind. They then proceeded to bring her up, without fuss or effort to find out where she came from; they were sure that if Divine Providence had kept her alive until they found her, it would also watch over her physical and spiritual well-being, or, in the worst of cases, would bear her off to heaven along with the other innocents. Consuelo grew up without any fixed niche in the strict hierarchy of the Mission. She was not exactly a servant, but neither did she have the status of the Indian boys in the school, and when she asked which of the priests was her father, she was cuffed for her insolence. She told me that a Dutch sailor had set her adrift in a rowboat, but that was likely a story that she had invented to protect herself from the onslaught of my questions. I think the truth is that she knew nothing about her origins or how she had come to be where the missionaries found her.“
Isabel Allende (Lima, 2 augustus 1942)