The Small Key, a short story written by Filipino writer Paz Latorena, is a bittersweet story of a farmer’s second wife named Soledad tormented by uncertainties of her own making. Really, it is a simple short story, but in it throbs the heart of a farmer’s land and life.
Soledad observes her husband’s movements and comes up with jaundiced meanings for them, such as his act of carrying a small key that opens a trunk filled with the belongings of his first wife. She was not given that key but chanced upon it and, instead of letting the past stay where it should be, she opened the trunk. Like a Pandora’s box, the result does not bode well on the married couple’s supposedly happy relationship.
The Small Key is my first Latorena short story. For this particular work, she won the third prize in the Jose Garcia Villa’s Roll of Honor for the Best Stories of 1927. She was a teacher to many great Filipino writers we know today, including F. Sionil Jose, Juan Gatbonton, Nita Umali, Genoveva Edroza Matute, Ophelia Dimalanta, Zenedia Amador, and Alice Colet-Villadolid.
I learned from reading her brief profiles online that many of her stories are characterized by a wistfulness that project a gentle disillusionment with life and feature the unexpressed heartaches of women. They are often a combination of bitterness, sweetness and sadness over dreams that did not or maybe could not come true. Her death in 1953 due to a fatal cerebral hemorrhage is indeed a significant loss to the country’s budding literature and to the literary community.
Latorena, Paz. (2017, April 29). Retrieved December 29, 2018, from https://panitikan.ph/2014/06/06/paz-latorena/
Koppens, Y. (2017, February 28). Two Black Skeleton Keys [Digital image]. Retrieved December 29, 2018, from https://images.pexels.com/photos/612800/pexels-photo-612800.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&dpr=2&h=650&w=940
(This is an entry for the 9th Annual Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge by Jay of Bibliophilopolis.)