I met Clarisa when I was an adolescent working as a servant in the house of La Señora, a lady of the night, as Clarisa called women of her occupation. Even then she was distilled almost to pure spirit; I thought at any minute she might rise from the floor and fly out the window. She had the hands of a healer, and people who could not pay a doctor, or were disillusioned with traditional science, waited in line for her to relieve the pain or console them in their bad fortune. My patrona used to call her to come lay her hands on her back. In the process, Clarisa would rummage about in La Señora’s soul, with the hope of turning her life around and leading her along the paths of righteousness - paths my employer was in no hurry to travel, since that direction would have unalterably affected her commercial enterprise. Clarisa would apply the curative warmth of the palms of her hands for ten or fifteen minutes, depending on the intensity of the pain, and then accept a glass of fruit juice as payment for her services. Sitting face to face in the kitchen, the two women would have their chat about human and divine topics, my patrona more on the humble side and Clarisa more on the divine, never straining tolerance nor abusing good manners. Later, when I found a different job, I lost sight of Clarisa until we met once again some twenty years later and re-established a friendship that has lasted to this day, overcoming many obstacles that lay in our way, including death, which caused a slight hiccup in the case of our communications.

Isabelle Allende The Stories of Eva Luna October 1, 2008
Posted on October 1, 2008