Friday, 15 January 2010


You saw three ships heading for port. You thought nothing of it until the captain came to your palace. The dashing Italian kissed your hand and said you were beautiful. He said one day the world would know his name. You laughed and took him to your bed.
The four days Christopher Columbus planned in the Canary Islands stretched to a month, you wanted him to stay but always his eyes turned to the sea. You hid your pain. To prove your sweetness, you gave him sugarcane cuttings to take on his voyage. Only when he had gone did you give vent to the true malice of your feelings. Those around you knew your cruelty.

Your legacy would span the world, Beatriz de Bobadilla y Ossorio. Those few stems you gave him would leave entire countries in poverty. Vast lands would be deforested to make way for sugar plantations and the hungry crop would exhaust the soil. Millions of Africans would be enslaved and shipped around the world. And the global society which would emerge five hundred years later would be smitten with an insatiable desire for sweetness in spite of the obesity and global diabetes epidemic it would cause. All this from a single gesture from a gracious, cruel hand.