On a sunny day like today (1), though with a bit of clouds, in the distant and beautiful town of Nueva Palmira, the celebrated writer, humanist, composer, pianist (though he played only with his left hand and only when induced by the sour taste of several glasses of Espinillar), painter, lover of dragonfly fishing, lazy kisser and private detective, Radamés Washington “π” Funes Da Silva, but also sometimes called simply 3.14, died of a grave but indeed very grave accident.
The reader might question the lack of taste in calling such a nature’s prodigy by a mere number; why just 3.14?
The reason is fairly simple, and its origin is due to an innocent articulation, uttered by a late humble mathematics teacher who by chance met our genius at the bar of the local pulpería; indeed both reason and origin would prove in the end to be mortal. Perhaps with a bit of modesty and demonstrating his love of numbers and calculations, Romualdo Giménez Ascasubi greeted the unsurpassed polymath with a bombastic salutation:
“Cómo está mi admirado, How are you my admired Radamés Washington 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128 4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196 4428810975 6659334461 2847564823 3786783165 2712019091 4564856692 3460348610 4543266482 1339360726 0249141273 7245870066 0631558817 4881520920 9628292540 9171536436 7892590360 0113305305 4882046652 1384146951 9415116094 3305727036 5759591953 0921861173 8193261179 3105118548 0744623799 6274956735 1885752724 8912279381 8301194912 9833673362 4406566430 8602139494 6395224737 1907021798 6094370277 0539217176 2931767523 8467481846 7669405132 0005681271 4526356082 7785771342 7577896091 7363717872 1468440901 2249534301 4654958537 1050792279 6892589235 4201995611 2129021960 8640344181 5981362977 4771309960 5187072113 4999999837 2978049951 0597317328 1609631859 5024459455 3469083026 4252230825 3344685035 2619311881 7101000313 7838752886 5875332083 8142061717 7669147303 5982534904 2875546873 1159562863 8823537875 9375195778 1857780532 1712268066 1300192787 6611195909 2164201989 3809525720 1065485863 2788659361 5338182796 8230301952 0353018529 6899577362 2599413891 2497217752 8347913151 5574857242 4541506959…..”
Of course, by the time he reached the last recorded number, that mortal nine, Radamés Washington “π” Funes Da Silva had left the pulpería some fifty seven days, eighty seven hours and seven thousand six hundred and thirty six seconds before our late teacher could finally end his calculatory and remarkable reciting, and with it, his own life (*).
It is worth remarking that “π” or 3.14 did not leave the place due to impoliteness or deafness; it is most certain that those spicy chivitos that had gone down his castigated digestive tract some minutes before the bombastic calculatory salutation began inspired an unexpected series of intestinal clarion calls, thundering for immediate and necessary action. The pulpería had a precarious toilet whose indecent centre was a rotten and worm infested latrine, and given our hero’s sitting preferences (some envious enemies used to call him The King of Shit), he always preferred to exercise his own bowels within the realms of his private finca’s luxurious restrooms, in a controlled thus safe environment (2).
It was for this reason only that our remembered man never used to abandon his surroundings for more than a couple of weeks at the most; he had mastered and strengthened that muscular group called Sphincter ani externus to such an extent that he was not only able to withhold even the most challenging calls (except for spicy foods, which he tried to religiously avoid), but to perform amazing features with his very anus: open beer bottles, crack nuts, mould pottery and other astonishing deeds; once, a teacher said during a physics class, paraphrasing Archimedes: give me the anus of Radamés, and I shall move the earth. (2 bis)
Besides his eccentric toilet routines, he was a man of astonishing memory, being the first undocumented human being to reach 2.8 trillion digits after the common 3.14 – or π numbers -, performing the amazing feature without writing even a single number. But it was not enough; having achieved such a mathematical exploit at the age of seven, something deep within, something that could not be evacuated, kept silently haunting him ever since that ill-fated day of spring.
He always thought of Socrates as the exemplary Man; he was inspired by him along every breath he took after finding a tome, left by chance or a helping hand, at the very entrance of that pulpería that was to become, some long years after, a witness of a famous bombastic mathematical salutation, a tome signed by a fellow named Plato. After masticating the Socratic motto Gnothi Seauton or γνῶθι σεαυτόν for long enough, that is, till not even the last n was left to stand, bitten to dust, he decided that someone who was ignorant of his own full name was not capable of commencing the journey of knowing thyself. This thirst for knowledge threw him into a frantic study of his own written denominational nature; but he knew (a knowledge swiftly masked by his greed, the greed that is all disguising and all concealing), before embarking in such a quest, that he was doomed from the beginning: his own name was infinite and eternal, as the Universe, as the God with 99 faces. He once wrote:
“If I could have had the chance to completely embrace my name, to know myself, I would have become that exemplary Man; One who transcends the vastness of Mathematical conjurations; One that would have become God, thus mastering and performing his 99 shapes and absorbing the vibration of the 100th secret name”.
This dreadful and unsuccessful quest, along with the incredible trials and tribulations suffered due to his lavatorial preferences, left him little time for other mundane activities; nonetheless, he will also be remembered as a lifelong and truthful friend of Abukasem, as well as a dear collaborator that helped to bring The Greedy Perfumer’s Opus Magnum into material existence.
The last divine numbers prefigured and calculated by his unique mind, were 7 8 6.
This commitment to the Socratic motto and his unquenchable thirst for knowledge took him on a journey that he knew from the beginning would be life threatening: the perspective to endure several weeks, probably months without being able to lighten himself of unnecessary baggage, was, to say the least, challenging, if not insane. Rumours took him to the Atacama desert, a vast area where nothing reigns but the monotonous sand, and whatever dares to exists is doomed to a struggle for survival. Radamés was convinced that in those mortal sandy vastness there was a clue destined to be found; a key to unlock the mystery of his endless name, that would provide him a passage to immortality.
His aim (and challenge), from the very beginning of the expedition, was to eat the minimum amount of food and drink only the necessary water in order to not wake those intestines that, inevitably and slowly, were beginning to get packed. After three hellish months of barely urinating and constant perineum compressions, and drinking, of having lost his three compañeros and having eaten his horses in homoeopathic doses, he finally understood, or perhaps fate forced him to understand, that he was wrong: “The end of that which is infinite cannot be reached, but experienced through earthly existence. Live your precious life man, and get home before your bowels explode!”
Those wise words, uttered by a wandering dervish, proved to be decisive; not having lost an ounce of weight, but gaining instead several kilos of waste, at first he tried to jump on the back of his lovely yegua criolla plateada; not only she was unable to bare that amount of extra luggage, but 3.14 was incapable of lifting his own weight. After resorting to the intuition of the animal, which laid itself down camel-style, Radamés was ready to go back and lovingly embrace, once again, his holy toilet grail. The journey home was slower than expected, and the constant though painful gallop proved to be fatal for his withholding mission; the problem had started to spread, and our ill-fated hero not only had a packed intestinal system, but the excrements had invaded the liver, the spleen, and were planning to take the pancreas. His body had already become a game board for a shitty Risk.
After trials and tribulations experienced in a journey that lasted generous weeks, the presence of eucalyptus in the air strengthened only his spirits; his body was already packed and about to burst in faeces. The beautiful mare (exhausted) abandoned him a few miles from his home; walking, exhausted and carrying twice the size of his natural weight, his heart hit his last beat, which occurred moments after his lungs were flooded with his own excrement, accumulated through months of withholding his posterior discharge during an impossible journey and expedition.
As his feverish mind uncovered the last 6, with an unfamiliar taste invading his tongue and the reflection of his porcelain throne on his eyes, Radamés Washington “π” Funes Da Silva expired.
His influence might have reached the shores of Jorge Luis Borges by inspiring the blind man’s masterful short story Funes the Memorious.
Also, four hundred and fifty seven years, thirty four months, fifteen hours and nineteen seconds ago, in the French region of Lorraine, it rained.
(1) It is believed that the abovementioned day was the first day of the eighth month of 1876. (Ed.)
(*) Hypothermia, lack of oxygen, self-salival-drowning, starvation and boredom are some of the numerous possibilities considered by the local police regarding the cause of death. In some regions of the department of Colonia del Sacramento, it is still debated whether he stopped reciting the numbers because of his unavoidable death, or whether he stopped due to ignorance of the following figures and that only then did he expire, due to reasons that would eventually have to be explained if that possibility is to be confirmed.
(2) He once rode on his horse throughout the vast plains of the Patagonia, suffered a troubled Buenos Aires, to then cross the Silvery River aboard a humble balsa during a seemingly endless forty five days, in order to sit on his porcelain throne. The amazing features and hygienic standards of his restrooms forged the old Uruguayan saying: “it was so clean, that you could eat from his lavatory”.
(2 bis) Once confronted with this modest remembrance in the form of ephemeris, the famous Argentine psychiatrist Daniel Scianneus conjectured that our hero might have had some attachment problems, which therefore caused this extreme preference, probably originated after a filial abandonment, either by his mother, or by his father, or both, simultaneously or not; he also imagines that if 3.14 had ever decided to write an autobiography, in it, he would have confessed that, for him, the act of defecating had a metaphorical meaning: that of giving birth to a new form of life, changed, transformed, transmutted, that eventually would feed another being, in a never-ending feasting chain.