Marquez and His Pandemic

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One day, someone shall write a great novel and use the current pandemic to make a point about human life. Maybe not just life within the crisis, but perhaps, a love that was enduring and everlasting, as in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. It is one of those books that is often overlooked by many readers mostly because Marquez has written many books that could be called exceptional.

And this moment, for those of us living in it, will be hard to forget and maybe it will come to represent something else in literature. Regardless, let us hope for it to soon take its place alongside other epidemic that are part of history now like, yellow fever, influenza, smallpox, ebola, and of course, cholera, the disease that ravaged parts of the earth multiple times over the centuries.

When I was in law school, a classmate and I often talked about music and books during the brief downtime sessions of legal education. When I asked him what he was reading back then, he said proudly, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I never read the book until much later and I had to admit after finishing it, it lived up to the hype my classmate gave to it. I even wrote a poem after finishing the book:

fermina.

the

doctor will

not die.

i am sorry.

you know it

is love. deeper

than ancient

canyons, oceans

pound’s poetry

which i would

never read to

anyone

the postman

will not ring

twice. we will

not make love

even once. even

marquez could not

write our story.

even he could

not put us on

a boat where we

sail for 100 years

all alone.

To Gabo, cholera, many critics claim, in the book, is a metaphor for the obsessive love that drives the narrative, an everlasting love story between Fermina and Florentino. Despite the love, Fermina marries a doctor leaving Florentino to wait for her and prove his love, though unrequited, is real. Of course, this happens when they both are much older and the question of whether there love is a 50–50 love as the singer Teddy Pendergrass once sang, will remain up in the air forever, mostly because of the passage of time. Is love the greatest pandemic of all?

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