Sancho Panza sat comfortably under the shade of a large tree. Not seeking enlightenment, he’d had a bit too much of that, at least for his taste, nor the best way to Nirvana without the trials and tribulations, but, ironically, writing his memoirs in a book; a book that his former master had gifted him. A book with nothing in it but blank pages as his former master had assumed that Sancho did not know how to read. But he’d been wrong. Sancho not only knew how to read but obviously how to write. And he was not an old fashioned buffoon! Instead of a quill and inkpot he was using a newfangled invention made from graphite imported from Borrowdale in far off England (an uppity Island doing its best to steal everything his native Spain had “acquired” from Ultramar). The graphite was ingeniously wrapped in string and left markings in the book in whatever shape or form Sancho deemed appropriate.
He’d had occasion to read the version of his adventures with his master supposedly written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, who’d gotten a few things right but way too many things wrong. But then again, Miggy was a politician of sorts (in his own way) and he was trying to make a point, torturing literature as well as facts as necessary, … a prelude to future journalism.
A novel! What the Hell was a novel anyway. Sancho did not believe that literary vogue would catch on. Anyway, Sancho deemed it appropriate to make a few corrections, some clarifications and perhaps a bit of creative advocacy to clear his good, or at least pretty good name.
Sancho’s former employer, not really his master, the naïve cavalier Alonso Quijano (also known in some quarters as Sir Quixote of la Mancha), had willed him, if not an Island Princedom (as he’d promised), at least several pleasant hectares reasonably near the old Moorish city of Toledo, which his wife Teresa Cascajo and their daughter, Maria, worked with the assistance of some tenant farmers they’d contracted. Sancho would have been more active in its management, had Teresa, or even Maria allowed it, but they assured him that he had more of an artistic than agrarian temperament. And he’d been forced to acknowledge their wisdom.
Old Miggy had made a small fortune with his version of Sancho’s adventures and Sancho felt that he, with his more direct knowledge of the facts involved, might at least do as well, proving to Teresa and Maria that his talents might also prove profitable. So there he sort of sat, a horn of passable wine nearby, and a straw hat on his head shielding him prospectively from the late afternoon sun that loved to evade the shade of the tree, and perhaps even provided him with a bit more shade, should he somehow happen to doze off, as sometimes, perhaps even frequently occurred. But those sort of naps were not really signs of languor, rather, they were opportunities to do research in the recesses of his mind that were sometimes otherwise inaccessible.
“And so it happened” he began writing, but was stumped after that for a while.
He checked his spelling, which seemed fine to him, albeit not always as consistent as it might have been, and then decided that perhaps a bit of wine might help. He took one gulp, and then another to wash the first gulp down and then a third for similar reasons, and soon, well, he wasn’t sure what had happened, but it had somehow gotten dark. “Dark magic” he thought, “dark magic again”, assuredly that malign Friston who would apparently do anything to prevent Sancho from getting his side of the story published.
With no other choice for the nonce, Sancho fitfully worked himself free of the damned hammock in which he’d been “working” and undertook the short walk to the comfortable little farmhouse (which also served as his manor), where Teresa and Maria had already finished the dinner they’d made for all three, but which Sancho had evidently somehow, “researched” through. Somehow or other, the dinner bell they used to call him did not always function properly. Probably a curse, damn Friston. So it was a cold, albeit delicious, stew again, with homemade sourdough bread (all bread was pretty much homemade back then).
Ah well, he thought, satiated as well as somewhat satisfied with his effort, mañana is another day, … and always will be.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.