After a while, he would come back down laughing, and then, he would settle comfortably on one of the first lower branches of that pine tree; the branch polished to a fine finish from so much wear.
It was a huge bough, precisely his favourite one, where he would swing from his legs, with his head dangling downwards. From there he would on occasion intervene in his parent’s quiet conversation.
However, on the majority of the times, this little boy could be observed as he hung from the branch (perhaps, deep down inside, the answer to the primordial instincts passed on by this ancestral forefathers, the tree dwellers, for it has been just so natural in him). He hung with his strong legs or simply with both or one hand, while he cheerfully balanced himself, swing to and fro.
He lost so many things in life, but he held on to his dreams…
Consequently, on many a quiet night at the farm, when the countryside and its surroundings had grown introspective, serenely tucking themselves in, sleeping the night away,
Magnífico lay with his body resting in his little bed, inside his bedroom at the farm; meanwhile, his soul drifted faraway, and he lived the adventures of having become, if only for a brief moment, a most famous and renown central figure and star of the circus, intensely admired and recognized by the multitudes that gathered from all over the world to marvel at his prowess.
Sporadic dreams, as it may be, not as recurrent as he would have desired, nevertheless, his imaginary incursions into that fantasy universe filled him with moments of supreme joy. So much so, that when they most happily concluded, he woke with a huge grin and elated, back once more to the real world of his family’s farm.
Without realizing it, since he was a child… at night, he would dream into his future
On occasions, settled into his magical hideaway on top of the world, Magnifico, relived some of his most peculiar dreams. These dreams, he had never shared with his Mother. He understood clearly that it would only cause her unnecessary worries and anguish.
The corner Tunja, Boyacá, Colombia
As it was, they consisted in the most colourful hallucinations, accompanied by brightest lights possible and the deafening sounds of cheerful music. These sounds were mixed into the confusion of shouts and the general din of the crowds that populated his dreams.
At times, they seemed so incredibly real that the boy actually perceived the smells hanging in the air. The crisp, fresh smell of recently made popcorn with melted butter, the smell of the sawdust that covered the walkways and the floor, also that strong aromatic presence of exotic animals, collected from the furthest corners of the world.
He walked through far away lands, with his world that he kept shiny and carefully tucked away in the bottom of his pocket
Equally, during those long mornings, many of them bathed by a gentle sun and refreshed by a mild, cool breeze, Magnifico, would snatch the opportunity to scramble up to the top of the tree, far away from his parents.
Quickly he would reach the very tip of the pine tree, where the branches grew smaller, tender, and less abundantly. There, he found the quiet moments to contemplate, not only the spectacular view, but also, the inner world of his childhood thoughts and his dreams for the future. He enjoyed those quiet times of solitude finally reconquering his world, once again.
At this point, he slowly descended with his life bright and unravelled and carefully tucked away in his pocket, once more, within his reach.
The comets flew up to the highest reaches of the sky… loaded with his sweetest dreams
That was how the small, young country-family passed the weekends, an unassuming life, yet filled with the pleasant happiness derived from those lunches on Saturday. And always present in these picnics were the fried plantains, the blood-cakes, the sausages, and of course, the fresh cassava, gathered earlier in the morning from the family orchard and prepared before leaving home.
On that day, they rested and saved their strength, for the next day was market day at Santa Isabel or Murillo. On Sundays, they left early in the morning, before the crack of dawn, loaded with the cheeses and the milk candies to sell to the merchants, who avidly awaited their arrival to buy all goods they carried.
Invariably, after lunch, the young couple would open the bottle containing the traditional sweet spirits, but with a high alcoholic content. While the child had a good time in the tree’s boughs, they enjoined a quiet, good time, as they peacefully chatted or simply enjoyed the calm surroundings, sipping their drinks of the anise-flavoured spirits, without a care in the world.
“I believe that I have journeyed and wandered over the most part of the planet. In large and very modern air planes, and in the most rudimentary, antique and quite worn out ones, as well. Yes, I have flown in tiny, small aircraft that took off from concrete runways, and I have landed in patches of dirt roads that could barely qualify as streets fit for ox-drawn carts.” (The treasure, in the book, Searching for treasures)
Curiously, one of the lower branches of the pine tree was among Magnifico’s favourite spots. During those Saturdays after lunch, Magnifico loved to first climb all the way up until he reached the highest branches of the pine tree, his old, beloved companion. He talked to the tree, relating his concerns and the week’s adventures, as he ascended among its strong branches. There, he would stay for a long time enjoying the wind and the view extending below him.
Magnifico never forgot that particular day. He was sitting in the highest reaches of the tree. As it happened that morning, he suddenly heard the noise of motors approaching. He listened astonished, as he sat all the way above, searching attentively for the origin of the sounds. It’s easy to imagine his immense surprise, when out of nowhere he abruptly saw three air planes coming right at him. They were flying in formation, one of the planes in front and spearheading the others, while the other two flew at each side, forming a flying triangle between the three of them. Very soon, they had already passed by and were lost in the distance.
Flying kites Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia
That morning, Magnífico climbed down the tree with a speed never seen before. Once in the clearing and back with his parents, he excitedly began to explain how he managed to wave first to the leader pilot, and then to his wing also, as they passed so close to the tree that he could see them smiling back. His parents listened amazed, both by the happenings with the airplanes, as well as, by how rapidly he had scrambled down the tree.
Through his reading, he discovered other worlds of dreamers like him
On many Saturdays, the three could be seen together, taking a break and enjoying their mutual company. But also, in-between the week, he liked to search for quiet refuge and sanctuary in the pine’s clearing, once he had finished with all his chores, of course. He had already discovered the magic of the written word, when he was yet barely a small kid, and he had furthermore acquired a taste for reading, so on many an occasion, he would arrive in the clearing with a book in his hand.
He got these from his teacher Rafita, who taught at the small rural school, which was enclosed in a small room without any windows. There, with the power of their minds, coupled with their more than rich imagination, the children reached out so much farther than the inconsistent windows would have allowed them. There, they learned about that vast world that surrounded their own, so much smaller in scope.
With his open book in hand, he swung higher on each pass, further and further from the ground, rising above with the tip of his shoes pointing towards the clouds; then, his mind would free itself, his thoughts soaring the heights together with his elevated reading.
And he understood that having reached the peak, you invariably descend once again
That makeshift swing had been made by his Dad, surely with more love than luxuries. He built the seat from an old, worn down wooden board, polished from so much use over the years. Patiently he handcrafted it lovingly in his spare time.
Once the seat was finished, he proceeded to tie it to the lower branches of the pine tree, using thick, sturdy ropes that may have appeared weather-beaten, but had quite a lot of wear and tear left in them still. Perhaps the branches were not the highest in the tree; nevertheless, they were undoubtedly high.
And in his swing, the boy loved to sit and feel the breeze, fresh and somewhat cold at times, as it buzzed past his ears. There, he would spend long hours overwhelmed, as he felt he was flying high above the ground, pushing that swing to the limit of its ups and downs.
And so, the today is impregnated with that yesterday
Many years went by. During many afternoons on Saturday, they loved to share lunch, sitting together beneath the shade of their beloved tree. They would place an enormous, brightly coloured table cloth in the midst of the green grass in the clearing..
There in the cool of the tree’s shade, the young couple sat together, scarcely older than children, as they talked the afternoon away and laughed without a care in the world. There, under the protecting overhang of the old tree, they drank in their love for each other, reveled in their youth and enjoyed the delicious food that always tasted so much better when shared.
The food was prepared at home and they brought it over inside the yellow wicker baskets. These meals, out in the open air, would mark the end of a long week of intense work and labour. Those were the days, in which the young couple relished the moment and dreamed with the future, just there, within their grasp and only waiting for them to reach out to make it theirs.
And with the cutting edge of his sharp imagination, he left a testimony of his passing through this life
A few years before, in that same pine tree, they had once built a swing. In some way, that old pine tree became an important part of the small family’s the history, and it went all the way back to its origins.
When they bought the farm, many years before Magnifico’s arrival into this world, his father carved his initials, as well as his young wife’s in the bark of the pine tree. In those days they were scarcely a bit more than children themselves. He was barely sixteen years old and she was but fifteen.
Life promised to be an adventure waiting to be discovered between themselves, and the world was theirs for the taking. That act, simple in itself, was tremendously significant, for it represented their taking possession of the newly acquired farm. The date could be seen, next to their initials, carved on the bark with the bold strokes he cut with his favourite knife: Together in life and beyond our death, 16 of July, 1934.