Dom Casmurro Chapter 53


I departed for the seminary. I shall skip over the remaining farewells. My mother hugged me to her breast. Cousin Justina gave a sigh. Maybe she shed a tear or two, maybe not. There are people to whom tears do not come easily, if at all. It is said that they suffer more than others. Cousin Justina had no difficulty in concealing her inner sufferings by correcting my mother’s omissions, offering advice and giving me instructions.

When I kissed his hand to say goodbye Uncle Cosme gave a laugh and said, ‘Off you go, my lad. Come back as Pope.’

José Dias, as serious and composed as ever, said nothing at first. We had spoken together the day before in his room, where I had gone to see if there was still a possibility of avoiding entering the seminary. There wasn’t, but he held out hope and, above all, cheered me up considerably. Before the end of the year we would be aboard ship. As I considered that very soon, he explained, ‘They say it’s not a good time to cross the Atlantic. I’ll find out. If it’s not, then we’ll go in March or April.’

‘But I can study medicine here.’

José Dias ran his fingers up and down his braces with a gesture of impatience, keeping his lips firmly compressed until he formally rejected the suggestion.

‘I would have no hesitation in approving the idea’, he said, ‘if in the School of Medicine they did not teach exclusively that wretched allopathic method. Allopathy is a centuries-old error and is on its deathbed: it is murder, it’s a lie, it’s an illusion. It’s true that in the School of Medicine you can study those areas of the science common to all the systems, but allopathy is an error in therapeutics. Physiology, anatomy and pathology are neither allopathic nor homoeopathic, but it is best to study everything together through books and the mouths of men who are seekers after truth.’

That was what he had said the day before in his room. Now he told me nothing other than some aphorisms about religion or the family. I remember this one: ‘Share it with God and it still remains yours.’ When my mother gave me her last kiss he sighed and said, ‘A most moving picture!’ It was the morning of a beautiful day. The slave children chattered together, while the women came forward to claim a blessing: ‘A blessing, Master Bentinho! Don’t forget your Joana. Your Miquelina will be praying for you.’

In the street José Dias was still expressing his hopes. ‘Put up with it for a year. By then we’ll have it all arranged.’