The novella, No one Writes to colonel set in the post-war period during the Civil War in Columbia. It is a story of a retired unnamed colonel who fought during the thousand days of the war. He and his sick asthmatic wife are now living a very miserable life and also lost their only son who was shot down at the cock-fights for distributing Clandestine Literature. The colonel and his wife are rotting alive, living in a small village under martial law, with no money but hunger. So they have sold their properties to eat a one-time meal and now they are left with nothing in their house except an old clock and their son’s only legacy, “rooster”.
The novella, No One Writes to the colonel, was first published in 1961 by renowned Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Author, Garcia Marquez is a venerated writer around the World and one of the best-known Latin American writers in history. He also won a Nobel prize for Literature and mostly because of his popular piece of magical realism which was One Hundred Years of solitude. His best works include One Hundred Years of solitude, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Love in the Time of Cholera.
As a former respected colonel, the colonel is determined and hopeful not to be defeated under such circumstances. He detests being hopeless and seen as a miserable man who is hand to mouth. But he still hopes of receiving his pension, which was promised some fifteen years ago, and this pension is their only hope. Every Friday the colonel waits for the pension letter to arrive, but there is nothing for the Colonel, as No one writes to the colonel.
The colonel is always seen either arguing with his wife, for keeping the rooster for that’s their only hope of survival, and taking the clandestine letters to his son Augustan’s companions, it was his only refuge ever since his co-partisans had been killed or exiled from town and he had been converted into a man with no other occupation than waiting for the mail every Friday.
He always gets cynical when he does not receive any letter regarding the pension which was promised to him. Though his wife, on the other hand, tries to be loyal, supportive, and non-complaining, until of course towards the end, when they are left with nothing but the rooster, which, the colonel is resistant to not sell by any means for he still has hope, “You can’t eat hope” you can’t eat hope, but it sustains you”.
This book is short, but it has millions of reasons to fall for the writing style of Gracia again and again. Only he possesses to spill the magic on readers without even giving names to characters in this short story. The title of the book also refers to the incident of how the colonel keeps waiting and hoping for that letter for more than 15 years and still has hope.
However, this is a very sad and lamentable tale of hope amid hopelessness of strength and dignity midst poverty and hunger, loss and brutality of war, and the harshness of life but still a beautiful, mysterious, and cinematic read. Indeed, writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez are born to live forever in pieces of work like these.
The story is wrapped up between finding hope when it is least expected amid hunger and waiting for more than 15 years but with the same determination and never losing hope even at the age of 75 years. Marquez has written it poignantly that in just a short story a person enters into his world. Secondly, the author emphasizes the theme of the individual against the government, along with the themes of war and solitude and how the civilians suffer under harsh government rule. Such as at the beginning of the story, the death of a boy happens, and the colonel goes for burial, and they are told to change the route “The burial may not pass in front of the barracks.’ I had forgotten, exclaimed Sabas,” I always forget that we are under martial law’. But this isn’t a rebellion, ‘ the colonel said. “It’s a poor dead musician”.