The Hidden Love of Jorge Aliaga Cacho
by Ricardo Falla Barreda
“The more it resembles the truth, the better the fiction, and the more probable and possible it is, the better it pleases (…) All, or most of them are notorious nonsense, monsters without feet or head, and if, despite that, the crowd enjoy seeing them, and approve of them and reckon them good, when they are so far from being so; and if the authors who write them and managers who put them on say that they must be good, because the crowd likes them like that and not otherwise(…) “, says Don Quixote to Sancho Panza after a discussion with a canon regarding the nature of plays written on works of chivalry in classical literature (see: Ch. XLVII of Don Quixote). And indeed, to “lie” in literature conjures up a poetic image, the creative act of writing combined with hard reality, a concept which dominates both the genius of Cervantes, and the work of our own Mario Vargas Llosa, who called the process ‘revealing the truth of lies’.
In the case of Jorge Aliaga Cacho with his novel “Secreto de desamor” (Renteria Publishers, Lima, 2007), he has carefully crafted a narrator and protagonist with the intention of exposing many long concealed lies. To this end, the novel is divided into six short stories that reveal ‘the scale of values’ of Peruvian society. A society who haven’t given any regard to the effects that their history has played in the conflicts of the people; a people who are beaten up with deep frustration, deception, apathy and, worse still, a lack of affection between its members: La Partida, San Ramon, Chubby Churrunaga, the chapter “La Merced” in which the protagonist reminisces on his meeting with Gladys; Don Ramon, the child who refuses to have his hair cut, the European world of Oxapampa, Pozuzo, Maria Egg, the reunion via telephone with Dorada, her relationship with Eleodoro Sandoval, Milagros, Gamarra; In “The return”, the protagonist narrator becomes an omniscient one, recounting the tale of Aunt Homilia and Dorada, becoming once again the protagonist in order to vent his own memories of Dorada, Gladys, his reunion with her; and in the “Colofon” , the author provides the reader with letters from Gladys and Dorada to Eleodoro Sandoval, plus a telephone conversation between Chubby Churrunaga and his scrawny friend. And, within this structure, the storyline of “Secreto de desamor” grows in the depths of the Peruvian jungle, reflecting on the miserable lives of people who are seriously hindered from living a dignified existence, and who are left to hope that the “laws” of chance will favour them and allow them to survive.
The structure, from an expressive and aesthetic point of view, is assembled in obedience to the “literature and meaning tenet”, whereupon the stories are presented sequentially, but under the principle of “before” and “after”. In this case, at the beginning, the protagonist and Dorada are romantically linked, but both have their own ambitions; and in the latter part of the story, as an outcome, all that remains between them is the bitter taste of frustration and the remnants of their failed plans, as their lives are devoured by the mediocrity of the daily grind.
”Secreto de desamor” is ordered according to the principle outlined above, in order to give the main characters direction. For example, Dorada, socially, is a poor and shallow minded girl, who is searching for a way out from her personal financial struggles, she is willing to endure any ardure as long as it will get her to a foreign country; because in her mind, to leave Peru for the Western world would make her socially and culturally superior to others. The outcome is therefore as you would expect, ie, Dorada manages to travel abroad, but fails in her ultimate purpose, yet this failure allows her time to reflect on her mistake, and she then sets her sights on returning. However, her personality deficiancies are such that her only perceived method of getting home is to offer her body to any man she can in the hope that she can return to Peru, and her parents house.
Dorada’s story resembles the parable of the Prodigal Son (Gospel of Luke), where parental love appears to be the most significant in life “I’ve spent all these years, washing dishes in a lousy restaurant, but now my ideas have changed, I want to return to Peru, to my parents’ house.” Evidently, the feast that is love, can only be found in those who are willing to receive us with open arms, who demand nothing further from their beloved, and who in a loud voice can say, welcome home my child.
The perspective that Jorge Aliaga Cacho presents us with, is that of a real lie. And this thought, drawn from the tradition of Cervantes, presents a stark contrast to the principles currently embraced by contemporary Peruvian authors, characterized in recent years by the abandonment of humanist ideals and the adoption of market values. Therefore, finding a literary creation such as “Secreto de desamor”, that virtuously desires to be useful to others, ie inviting them to reflect on the poverty that condemns millions of people all over the world, deserves merit for its ethical cognitivism.
Let me say a few words about Jorge Aliaga Cacho. We met over twenty five years ago, at a time when we could just make out a utopia across the sea of our minds, and we fought tooth and nail, against the tide, to achieve and establish justice and love in our nation. But, as everyone imagined it would, this impulse faded into terrible reality, immersed in its whirlwind of rough seas, but thankfully these deep convictions that drove us in our youth survived, and as stated in the words of the beautiful Cole Porter melody, we started again. And now life has enabled us to meet up again after so long. Indeed, on the 26th of last month at the Casa Museo José Carlos Mariátegui, as we participated in a tribute to Carlos Eduardo Zavaleta, Jorge approached me and invited me to review his book, and without hesitation I accepted. And I’m here to tell you that we have started again, reclaiming the path to utopia; here I am, or rather here we are, those of us who’s only wish is fight the plight of the poor with no further reward than witnessing the smile of a child who has discovered a breakfast prepared for them as they hurry to get ready for school. Therefore, for these reasons and many more, I state that the novel Secreto de desamor by Jorge Aliaga Cacho is an exhaustive literary text, a novel thats main purpose is to rediscover those forgotten people who are struggling to join the Peruvuan literary world, a worldl that has been recognized for a long time as one of the most outstanding in the Spanish language. Jorge Aliaga Cacho Welcome! Your place in the Peruvian literature has been secured.