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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An interview with Gabriel

Photo: Wikimedia
That morning, a Sunday in August 2014 in the heat of Macondo, I had the privilege to interview Gabriel after a long wait.

It was not difficult to find the house by the bank of the river, as there were only a few houses. The house had a bright white colour, with his name marked at the front door.

Inside the house, I sit on a wooden chair near the window. I look around the room and saw that the chairs and other furniture were all marked by ink brush, with the names: chair, table, door, window and so on.

It seemed that the marks were inherited from the time of memory loss plague. The plague caused all inhabitants of Macondo to lose their memory easily. They forgot the names of all kind of things in their lives, even the names of most common things in daily life, like chair, table, door, window, such that they had to mark all of them in order to remember. The marks were left sticking on the furniture of this house.

When asked about it, Gabriel sighed and told:

“The plague caused everybody to lose their memory, old and young, colonels and soldiers, rich and poor, judges and prisoners, they all lost their memory. They were not able to remember even the names of common things in their daily life, such as table, chair, door, window, and so on.

Animals also had to be marked with its name: cow, dog, mule, on labels strapped around their necks, otherwise people could not remember their names. It was a strange plague that had never before been encountered in human history.

Nowadays too, when things do not function in accordance with their names, people would forget the names. When chairs are not used as chairs anymore, people would forget that it is a chair and would then forget that the name of that thing is chair. When doors cannot be opened anymore, it ceased to be named as door. When a river ran-out of water it ceases to be river. A home that is no more a peaceful place to stay, ceases to be named home. The names then would disappear and forgotten once they lose their meaning.

Also, when human do not function as per their names anymore, people would forget the names and use don’t use them anymore. Parents, teachers, writers who do not behave as parents, teachers, writers, would not be named the same anymore, and the name would lose its meaning and erased from human memory forever. When writers do not write interesting stories anymore, then the name writer would not be regarded as what it should be and then would slowly disappear and forgotten.

When journalists do not write the truth anymore, then the name journalist would lose its meaning, and the name would not be used anymore. Actually, in the beginning, names were created in relation to the objects. The name bears its relation with the object and assigns the object to function in accordance with its name. The name journalist obligates the person to write about the truth. If not, the person ceased to be named journalist. People would forget about him and read his writing no more. If all journalists write no more about the truth, then journalist would lose its meaning, and it slowly disappears from the world and becomes forgotten. Such is the plague threatening our time, the erasure of name from memory, as the reality does not resemble the name anymore, and the reality disappears with its name.”

I said:

“In One Hundred Years, it seems that the loss of memory plague had attacked back a few generations later. This time, the people in Macondo lost memory of a horrible thing that happened in the past. No one could remember the horrendous massacre at the train station. The history was completely forgotten, it was erased from reality. “


“Yes, people didn’t remember at all that more than 3,000 people were massacred on that Friday in front of the train station. They were the banana company workers, women and children waiting for the train that was not coming. After a long wait since early morning till afternoon, obviously they became tired and frustrated when they heard rumour that the train would be delayed to the next day.

Afraid that the angry crowd would mix with the crowd of an ongoing strike of the banana company workers and would become violent, the army captain gave announcement for the crowd to disperse in five minutes. He had received the authorization from General Carlos to shoot to dispel the crowd. But no one moved, nobody thought that the army would shoot them.

One minute after the five minutes is over, fourteen machine guns really started shooting them. More than 3,000 of them were killed, the dead bodies were piled in a train, in the same way they transported bunches of banana in the train.

A child survivor who was saved by Jose came to tell the story of the massacre many years later, but no one believed him. They said there had not been any dead there. People didn’t remember and denied that it had happened, the history was completely buried, like the 3,000 dead people, thrown into the sea. Even Jose’s brother denied it, the official story was that the workers had left the station and returned home in groups peacefully….. ”

Gabriel paused and took a sip of his sugarless coffee, which reminds me that the Buendias also drank coffee without sugar.

And then I asked:

”In One Hundred Years the magical world merged with the real world, where did the idea came from?”


“The story was written in magical reality phenomenon, in dreamlike happenings, but was made believable the way my grandmother used to tell her stories during my childhood. She told the stories about things that are magical, supernatural and fantastical with a straight face and tone, so it sounded completely natural. “

I said:

“One Hundred Years narration indeed sounds like the voice of a narrator of a Disney movie, a voice that made us believe and made us adsorbed in the story as if we were in the story. The story became a real world for the audience.”


“A story is the perception of the writers of the world and in return the readers take their perception of the story, therefore it’s an interaction of the writers and readers of the reality. The story creates the world we perceived, reality is a reflection.

The magical world in a way is reflection of our fantasies, wishes and anxieties of the world, through the interaction of the writer and readers the magical world in the story becomes reality. Through story-telling from generation to generation, it then becomes part of our life, part of our culture. ”

I said:

“In One Hundred Years, the deaths were tragic, the life was scandalous, reality was spiced in magical phenomenon, and superstitions became reality.”


“People carry their hopes, anxiety, and beliefs from childhood to adulthood. The world of magic and dreams in the childhood world are their reality, it is the world which a child perceived. The world then is brought into the world of adulthood into a different perspective.

The story tells about the weak, the sorrowful and the strong, the yellow butterflies of Remedios the Beauty, the darkness of the time, the memory loss plague, the fortune telling magician, and the superstition became reality of the baby born with pig tail. Those are elements of our hopes, anxiety and beliefs, element of our world, our reality.”

I said:

“One Hundred Years with its thick plot, dramatic and scandalous story line, reminds me of telenovelas which are very popular in this country, Latin America and even in the world, because telenovelas are full of intrigues, scandals, fighting, affair, parties and human sufferings.

 One Hundred Years also has many of these elements intertwined in the story, the tragedies passed on from generation to generation, the fantastical world, the surprises, the intrigues and affairs, they are all can make One Hundred Years a very interesting telenovela series.”


”Indeed telenovelas are very popular as it becomes part of our live, part of our culture. People’s fantasies, wishes and anxieties formed our real life and they are reflected in telenovelas. People are interested in those intrigues, scandals, tragedy and affairs as they can relate to those in their world, it is inside their world. It becomes popular and becomes our world, our reality.”

I asked:

“So would you let One Hundred Years made into telenovela?”


“Not really, telenovela and movies are visual world which would not be able represent the novel in full. Likewise a novel cannot always represent the visual world.”

I said:

” There are parts of the story that could be visually stunning and dramatic, like the yellow butterflies appearances ....”

” Yes, the butterflies of Meme and Mauricio …”

“And, the wedding of Aureliano and Remedios..”

“ And, the massacre at the train station, which reminds us of happenings in our reality ...”

“The day Sofia found the dead colonel, the scene with the vultures…”

“The accession of Remedios the beauty…”

“ The baby born with pig tail…”


“ Those are fantastic to visualize, I can imagine, however some parts would be difficult, like the opening of the novel: Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

I said:

”Also, when the colonel realized just before the firing that he should have asked to name his unborn child as Remedios if it is a girl….”

“And the guilty feeling of Amaranta of the death of Remedios….”

“The misery of Pietro when Rebecca wanted to marry Jose....”

“The misery of Pietro when Amaranta refused to marry him….”

 “Ursula lamenting the fate of her children…...”

“The dark days of the colonel after the war…”

“The One Hundred Years …………”