JOSE RIZAL – “ My dear fellow, I thought of Loleng this afternoon with the news you brought me; I dreamed of her; I recalled her as she was four years ago when in my teens I love her with all the illusions of youth, when she was fifteen and I, nineteen. Her memory lingered but was dying out; I would not think of her sometimes for a month. Ingrate that I am, but now her image returns vividly in my mind, like a star in a dark night and in spite of all the superficialities around me which force me to think of the future, forgetting the interests of yesterday. I feel an extinguishable thirst for pure affection, real, without deceit or lies which will cure the weaknesses of my sick spirit.”
SILVERIO – “You know that your relationship is not a secret to me and this is why she was more open with me than with the others. In dances and feasts she seems to be the same girl you left four years ago—taller, about one or two finger-breadths, a trifle heavier, in spite of her small frame, but paler every day. She told me that she was taking iron and she was going on with sea bathing which seems to do her good. And I told her, purely as a joke, that she should look for a lover to which she remained silent and sad. She seemed to be deep in thought— about you, man, about you!”
JOSE RIZAL – “Do not be stupid, Silverio,” I said tickled at the thought that someone likes me and trying to be modest, I said,
“I do not deserve her.”
SILVERIO – Loleng does not lack suitors: Lopez, Perico Fernandez, Chengoy of Santa Cruz, an employee of the Hacienda, a captain of Artillery, etc. She turned them down.”
JOSE RIZAL – I was bursting with pride; Loleng turning down everybody interested in her: turning down Lopez, owner of a two-hundred thousand fortune: Fernandez, a rich landlord, an employee of the Hacienda with a monthly salary of one-hundred fifty pesos, a brave and courageous captain of Artillery; and I, the obscure doctor, the insignificant writer, a son of a respectable provinciano (one from the province) was perhaps the chosen one. I was feeling puffed with pride; I wanted to leave the room, to run outside, far, very far, to shout to the whole world that Loleng loved me; I was completely happy. I who was until then modest and quiet became proud and boastful.
Two months ago Silverio had been to Antipolo with her and her family for a nine-day stay. She used to bathe in the springs often; they went horseback riding and walking around town, talking often about me. One day, she told Silverio:
LOLENG – I put up candles everyday to the Miraculous Image for something I have been praying for years
SILVERIO – And I told her I knew what she was asking for,
LOLENG – placed her fingers on her pretty mouth to silence me.
When Silverio went to say good-bye to the family, he took advantage of a careless moment when the mother left them alone to ask her:
SILVERIO – “And what do you want me to say to Pepe?”
LOLENG – “Nothing “
SILVERIO – “What nothing?” Shall I tell Pepe you are sending nothing?
LOLENG – “Tell him what I have told you many times.”
SILVERIO – “But nothing more, Loleng?”
LOLENG – “Ah,” “My best regards.”
SILVERIO – “And that he should not forget you, no?
LOLENG – “All right. Give this to him, too.”
She took from her pocket an envelope which contained a dry flower pressed on a piece of cartolina (hard paper). It was the last rose she had worn on her hair, which she preserved to send to Pepe. She kissed the flower and gave it to Silverio who was the carrier of such a precious souvenir.
SILVERIO – “Here it is”
JOSE RIZAL – I got it; I looked for the flower and I kissed the musty petals of that dry rose. On it Loleng had pressed her lips: on it I must place mine. I wanted to breathe deeply of something she had left there. The much-sought for kiss had arrived through it and I wanted to enjoy every bit of it. Loleng kissed the flower to send it to me; the flower was nothing more but a means, the kiss was for me.
During the lapse of forty days, what would be left of the loving kiss place there by Loleng?