El Bobo: The White Horse
"El Bobo." Uncle George stood away from the four children and held the white horse by the bridle. Its head was well proportioned with its body. A broad forehead separated the large chestnut-colored eyes and it snorted nervously. Uncle George told them its name without taking his eyes off the nervous animal. "Why?" said Abby crouching behind the stall's door. "He seems very smart for his name." Her brother Bill quickly answered, "Dummy, its a joke! The horse in not bobo. He's smart!"
Mary, the youngest and a very smart four-year old, ignored Bill's condescending tone of voice and asked, "Uncle George, who named him? How long have you had him? Where did you get him? How come he snorts so much?"
"Mary, ho! You're spinning questions faster than el Bobo can run! I'll tell all of you his story tonight. I have to go into town to pick up some supplies your mother wanted and maybe I'll bring back some flies for you, toads." The children and the adult had developed a special bond that summer. After having played in the river the previous week they found a group of frogs and made up a game: they threw peanuts in the air and caught them in their mouths like frogs catching flies.
"Wribbitt, wribbitt..." was the harmonizing answer from three of the siblings as they hopped around Abby. She would not share in such childish behavior. "What's wrong, Abby?" asked Tony, "Horse got your tongue?" Mary reminded her uncle she wanted her flies dipped in chocolate. "Will do. Now, head back to the house with your mom. Tell her I'll be back by supper."
Tony suggested, "Lets see who hops faster from the barn to the house." As they started their race they heard a loud neigh. Startled they turned to see their uncle disappear behind the white beast as it rose on its hind legs fighting the rider on its back. "Niño, I'm not letting go so come down and take me to town." El Bobo couldn't stay up any longer shadow boxing with his front legs. As it fully touched ground and with great strength the white beast carried the rider hurriedly out of the barn at full gallop through the path away from the house scaring the children speechless.
Abby saw that Mary was about to cry so she tried to distract her. "Lets hop to the house, Mary, like you wanted to and look for butterflies along the way. Uncle George will be OK and, you'll see, he'll bring back chocolate covered flies for us toads. All right?" Mary whimpered a bit and nodded a yes to her older sister.
Another summer afternoon was about to bow to the singing frogs' night song. Bill sat by the kitchen window on the lookout sending reports on their make-believe walkie-talkies to Tony, "Do you see him? Over." Tony's position was to cover the front porch, "No Sgt. Bill. You should see him first. Over." "I don't see him either, Pvt. Tony. Remember to watch for enemy spies. They come in all shapes and sizes. Over."
As Bill looked out the window once more he felt his back poked. "You are the enemy and I have captured you!" A triumphant Abby stood behind Bill, "Give up your post. My buddy is taking your private's post. You're surrounded!"
"Tony! Tony, come in! We're losing ground! Over."
"Sgt. Bill, I've been hit. I'm dyyyyyyyiiiing!"
Their mother called truce, "Outside! No playing in the house anymore. And when your uncle gets here I don't want you near that horse!" Downtrodden, they relented and played cards on the porch.
An hour went by "He's here!" Mary called out. The four gathered around the veranda and felt the pounding stride of el Bobo's hooves beating the silent path. The sound echoed in their chests. For a second the horse seemed to head straight into the house. It's ram-like approach showing no sign of slowing down when its rider pulled the reins back and the white beast rose on its hinds and turned demonstrating its wide chest, neighing and snorting. Uncle George held on, but once el Bobo came down the rider hopped off and the horse settled for a circular walk around the man, never stopping his march.
The children were petrified. There was foam all around his stomach, neck and shoulders and... "There's blood coming out of his mouth!" exclaimed Abby. "Children! In the house. Wash your hands and get ready to eat. Hi, George. Any news from town?"
"Hi, sis. Not much. Oh, yes. The Lopez' daughter had a boy, finally."
"Thank heavens! After five daughters they must be celebrating."
"Anyone for chocolate-covered peanuts? I mean, flies?" "ME, me, me!" was the resounding cry from the brothers and sisters.
Dinner was now nearly over and all waited for the promised story. George knew the silence was meant for him. He lit a cigarette and walked out to the front porch. "OK. get on the hammocks. I'll tell you el Bobo's story. Scrambling to see who arrived first the girls shared one hammock, while the boys took the other.
"I wanted el Bobo from the moment I saw him running free with our neighbor's horses in his farm. It's got fire in his veins. The wind couldn't catch up as it swiftly ran through the river's banks. He is a great horse if you want other little horses to call him daddy, but its owner was obsessed not only in ridding el Bobo, but in breaking its spirit.
El Bobo bleeds because that bad man tried to break its spirit by driving nails through its tongue. He never broke el Bobo, though. I saw this and convinced the man to sell me the horse. I cared for el Bobo and healed his wounds. El Bobo never obeys me he just agrees with me when I suggest a trip, a bath or a shoeing."
Abby dared to interrupt with as quiet a voice as she could muster, "Uncle George, but if you healed him why does el Bobo still bleed?"
"I'll tell you, baby, it's the same as you and I. Our old wounds creep up in our lives and hurt us when we least expect it. You saw him riding hard from here. I don't want him to ride so hard, but his spirit forces him to fly! I try to control him with the bridle, but the wounds open up and that's why he bleeds. El Bobo doesn't let that stop him. Learn from him, kids: old wounds, though they open up, should never let us stop us in life, either."
Mary was sound asleep next to Abby and the boys were starting to nod off. Their mom had listened quietly up until then. Now, a tear escaped her eye and only Abby saw it. "Time for bed, everyone." She picked up Mary as her brother carried the two boys. Abby walked behind.
That was the last lesson Uncle George taught them as children for that was the last summer they visited the country house. Many years have passed, but Uncle George's love for animals and el Bobo's story still get retold at all their family gatherings. Old wounds may not heal completely, but courage surpasses all pain.
© 2013 Maria del Pilar Perez