30. January 2011 · Comments Off on The Divided Well · Categories: B. Family Legends · Tags:
Where I grew up after my mother died when I was eight.

My grandparents’ home where I grew up, after my mother died when I was eight.

In my grandparents’ garden there was a wall that ran right over a well, dividing it exactly in half, and then continuing around the edge of the property, separating us from the house next door.   I knew that my grandfather’s brother and his family had lived there because my mother had taken me to visit him, but only once.  I knew somehow that they had gone to Portugal, but they were never mentioned.   That was a cue that questions about them were not welcome.  As a child, I played regularly in the garden and sometimes peeked at the other side of the well.  I never saw anyone.  Our gardeners did not use the well, since there were faucets outside the garage.  Who divided that well?  Who built that stupid wall between brother and brother? 

Finally, I met someone who was there and knew.   Was it the brothers?  After all, they had to pay for it.  Yes, they had to allow it.  But no, it was not their wish. Are you kidding?  That long wall burned up a lot of patacas, even in those days. But there was such a feud between their wives that they had to build a wall.  I would have moved.   But no, the women preferred the wall.  I guess it was weirdly satisfying to their hatred for each other to see that wall every day.  

The brothers met downtown or at their club.  The young cousins sneaked back and forth between the houses.   Nobody remembers what the feud was about.

That wall showed me that not everything deserves to be expressed, just because you have the means.  I also learned that ugliness can transform itself into beauty, given enough time.  Except for that weird division of the well, the wall grew old, grew mossy, and became a part of the breathtaking beauty of the garden.


Granduncle's house on other side of divided well

Granduncle’s house on other side of divided well



Comments closed.