In the story, “Eggplant” was Urbano Gomez’s mother. She was giving birth every year, but children did not survive. She spent all her money in expensive burials for her dead infants, consequently, becoming a scrapper. Eggplant would always “…get into arguments with every market woman over food prices…” (Ruflo 112).
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Nachito Rivera was Urbano Gomez’s brother-in-law. According to the author, soon after marrying Ines, Nachito became “…feeble-minded”, which “…forced Ines to take care of him” (Ruflo 113).
Hiccups and Stuck Up were two sisters and Urnabo’s cousins. They were Fidencio Gomez’s daughters. Stuck Up was given this mean nickname at school when she was caught playing “…husband and wife with her cousin Urbano behind the lavatories in a dry well…” (Ruflo 113). On the other hand, Hiccups suffered from frequent hiccups.
Urbano Gomez’s was caught playing “…husband and wife with his cousin Hiccups behind the school lavatories” (Ruflo 113). He was expelled from school.
The Comical fate of Urbano Gomez
It is only 15 years now since he was expelled from the village school in his grade four. Although we sympathize him for his fate, the cause of his expulsion from the school is a comical matter. We had gathered for a physical education lesson in the field.
It was one of those summers that teachers spent much of their time running after the children in the field, making them do extraneous exercises. Urbano did not like the exercises, but as long as he was outside the classroom, he felt relieved. Urbano got a chance to go for his fruits and juice, which he obtained from Nachito Rivera.
Passing through a dry well behind the lavatories, he found his cousin Stuck Up, another funny character. She was attempting to leave before the classes were over. It is said that a ‘man and wife’ game started down the dry well. It was at this point that Mr. Miguel, the deputy headteacher, caught them.
We were assembled for a special function just after lunch. The ‘husband’ was yanked out the main door and between a row of sixty boys and girls. Ashamed, he held his fist and face high as a sign of warning implying the phrase: “you will one day pay for this”.
Nevertheless, he returned years later becoming a policeman. No one knew how he ended up there, but no one dared ask him. He never talked to us and even pretended not to know anyone of his childhood friends. He spent much of his time in the main square with the gun hanging between his legs.
In a fight with Nachito in a churchyard, Urbano killed his brother-in-law. A Good Samaritan struck him. The audience chased and caught him, beating him mercilessly. The next day, they chose the best tree for him. They gave him a rope and ordered him to commit a suicide.
Earlier before his expulsion, Gomez was our village entrepreneur, selling us the things that we could easily obtain. His older sister Natalia prepared fruit juices for sale. We used to accompany Urbano to her home and drink the juice but always promised to pay later. We never paid. Urbano’s expulsion saved us from these debts.
Long before he was born, his mother, another comic character, used to give birth every year, sometimes spacing her children by less than 11 months. Folks in the village called her “eggplant”. She had 14 children before Natalia and Urbano Gomez.
However, none of them survived. It is said that she was a rich woman, but each year, she would hold a decent and expensive burial for her child until she was broke.
When Natalia and Urbano were born, she was already 50 years old but she became poor moving from one bin to another and looking for scrap to feed her children. Years before that, she argued with every market woman, complaining about food prices.
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Ruflo, Juan. The Burning Plain and other Stories. University of Texas, 1953. print