by Paz Latorena
She was homely. A very broad forehead gave her face an unpleasant, masculine look. Her eyes, which were small, slanted at the corners and made many of her acquaintances wonder if perchance she had a few drops of celestial blood in her veins. Her nose was broad and flat, and its nostrils were always dilated, as if breathing were an effort. Her mouth, with thick lips, was a long, straight; gash across her face made angular by her unusually big jaws.
But nature, as if ashamed of her meanness in fashioning the face, moulded a body of unusual beauty. From her neck to her small feet, she was perfect. Her bust was full, and her breast rose up like twin roses in full bloom. Her waist was slim as a young girl’s her hips seemed to have stolen the curve of the crescent moon. Her arms were shapely ending in small hands with fine tapering fingers that were the envy of her friends. Her legs with their trim ankles reminded one of those lifeless things seen in shop windows displaying the latest silk stockings.
Hers was a body of a sculptor, athirst for glory, might have dreamt of and moulded in a feverish frenzy of creation, with hand atremble with a vision of the fame in store for him. Hers was a body that might have been the delight and despair of a painter whose feelings faltering brush tried in vain to depict on the canvass such a beautiful harmony of curves and lines. Hers was a body a poet might have raved over and immortalized in musical, fanciful verses. Hers was a body men would gladly have gone to hell for.
And they did. Men looked at her face and turned their eyes away; they looked at her body and were enslaved. They forget the broad masculine forehead, the small eyes that slanted at the corners, the unpleasant mouth, the aggressive jaws. All they had eyes for was that body, those hips that has stolen the curve of the crescent moon.
But she hated her body – hated that gift which Nature, in a fit of remorse for the wrong done to her face, had given her. She hated her body because it made men look at her with an unbeautiful light in their eyes – married eyes, single eyes.
She wanted love, was starved for it. But she did not want that love that her body inspired in men. She wanted something purer, cleaner.
She was disgusted. And hurt. For men told other women that they loved them looking deep into their eyes to the soul beneath their voices low and soft, their hands quivering with the weight of their tenderness. But men told her that they loved her body with eyes that made her feel as if she were naked, stripped bare of their simple eyes to gaze upon. They told her that with voices made thick with desire, touched her with hand afire, that scared her flesh, filling her with scorn and loathing.
She wanted to be loved as other women were loved. She was as good as pure as they. And some of them were as homely as she was. But they did not have beautiful bodies. And so they were loved for themselves.
Deliberately she set out to hide from the eyes of men the beautiful body that to her was a curse rather than a blessing. She started wearing long, wide dresses that completely disfigured her. She gave up wearing the Filipino costume which outlined her body with startling accuracy.
It took quite a time to make men forget that body that had once been their delight. But after a time they became accustomed to the disfiguring dresses and concluded she had become fate and shapeless. She accomplished the desired result.
And more.. For there came a time when men look at her and turned their eyes away, not with the unbeautiful light of former days but with something akin to pity mirrored there –pity for a homely face and a shapeless mass of flesh.
At first she was glad. Glad that she had succeeded in extinguishing that unbeautiful light in the eyes of men when they looked at her.
After some time, she became rebellious. For she was a woman and she wanted to be loved and to love. But it...