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October 2003

Master "Nene", bone-composer:
Bone and soul repairer

Few know his real name. Everybody knows Eduardo Armijo as "Master Nene", and one doesn't need to have his address to find him in El Monte, where this bone-composer is one of the community's key figures.

By Rosario Mena


The same as his grandfather, after leaving the harvests Eduardo Armijo occupied himself repairing the shoes of the people in El Monte. The town's football team were his main clients. "Since I was a kid, I would spend all the time looking at my grandfather. And when somebody told him 'get the boy outta here, he's just bothering', he would say: He's not bothering, he's just learning".

But heritage went further. After his death "Master Nene" adopted his grandfather job. So, he became a bone-composer. Since then, he gets lots of patients from all over, people whose legs, arms, hands and ribs he touches with his fingers, until giving the precise hand-pressure for the bone to get back in place. First, he commends himself to Saint Francis, El Monte's patron, and also to the Child of Malloco, a popular saint from a nearby town, whose more than a century-old legend is about a child who was abandoned at a small chappel and died young, becoming a miraculous figure.

"I'm good friends with the Malloco priest. I go there to see the Child, and he says But El Monte belongs to Saint Francis. Yes, I say, but I go one Sunday to Saint Francis, and the next to the Child. Oh, that's some Faith you have, he answers".

The Virgin of Fatima is also one of his devotions. "I asked her for two sons first, and then two daughters. And that's just what She gave me. Then one of my daughters got very sick. We didn't know what to do with her. We took her to a hospital in Santiago, saw a lot of doctors; we made everything we could. And then the Virgin gave me the name of the doctor that I should take her to. So we did and she got cured".

To preserve popular traditions is one of Master Nene's main motivations. He is also a good "payador" (folk rhymer), and can improvise some verses without one asking. "I'm a composer for 'payas' (verses) and bones", he says proudly. The memories of his childhood at the countryside still cheer him up. "When we reaped potatoes, we had to spend there the whole night so noone would steal them. We made a fire and roasted pumpkins, potatos and onions to eat. It was nice". The transmission to his grandchildren of what the composer's work is, is something he's now taking care of. "My grandfather said to me: Some of your grandchildren will also be composers. And there's now a young kid who's always looking at me. He's going to be the one".

Without discrediting medical knowledge, Master Nene offers his lessons to whoever may ask. "What doctors do is put casts. They have their studies and their techniques. And when there's a broken bone, there's no other way. But for sprains and dislocations doctors sometimes even send me their patients". Based upon his genuine knowledge, Master Nene doesn't need to charge for his work. Good will and eternal gratitude are major rewards that guarantee him a happy and worry-free life, based on community solidarity and elightened by faith.

"I feel happy just to be able to help. In one way or another people respond, and thanks God we live peacefully. We have never lacked anything".


 

 
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