The current Middle Ages – Carlos Eduardo Zavaleta

Short story

«I’ve lived in the Middle Ages for a long time.» Felix used to say as soon as his friends, attracted by his hospitality, would take a seat around him. Smoking, eating, and drinking with their hands, they would laugh, not believing him, and say:

«That’s impossible, you’re too young, you should’ve born centuries ago.»

«I’m being serious,» he would answer back immediately. «Twenty years ago, I used to live in the Peruvian highlands. Just as my father, I was surrounded by servants since I was a child. And I had total control over them. One of them, Gregorio, wanted to rise up against me; his feet soles, where scars are not noticeable, were burned. Another one, Chabela the cook, refused to show me how deep her private parts were, and whether her black and distant gender could speak or not as we do; she was filled with toads and sewed for many days. The third servant guided me wrong around the Cahuacona’s white highlands, at midnight, without any torches, since that is how men who do not fear hell travel; I waited, and at the dubious light of dawn, I pushed him off from one snowy cliff to another. The fourth one laughed so hard when a dog bit me and I fell down; I set him apart from her concubine and locked her up with a fierce dog. And lastly, I kept the fifth one with difficulty, I did not fire him; he worked as a menial, a waiter, and a butler. After a few years he was already like me. He had the same preferences, bad habits and conceits as I do. But he was yet poor on dignity. That was his reward for not contradicting me on anything.»

«Alright, but nowadays life is different in the highlands!,» one of his friends said. «You cannot do such things; things like that are considered crimes. The natives themselves would condemn you.»

«It’s just changed superficially,» Félix said. «Now, every time I’m fed up with being in Lima, I travel for around five hundred kilometres inland, and I’m back to the Middle Ages, where I still keep some properties. Actually, I’ve just modified the rewards. Instead of burning their feet, putting toads inside their body, or throwing them down from a cliff to another, I compensate them in a different way. I stop them from going to school, I refuse to remunerate them well, I take away their time to think, I make them buy the worst clothes and food, never a house or a good horse. And finally, to make things worse, I totally ignore them. And when I’m tired of those habits, I come back here to Lima, and turn on the stereophonic, the television or the Betamax, and the bed’s vibrating massager; in that order.»

«And why do you do all of that?,» asked one of his friends.

«I have fun fulfilling my desires,» he answered. «It’s really boring living in just one century.»


Zavaleta, C. (2019). La Edad Media actual. Pueblo azul, edición conmemorativa. Huarás: Fondo Editorial ACELA.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. «The current Middle Ages», a short story translated by Pablo Alejos Flores.

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