"The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World"
("El Ahogado mas Hermoso del Mundo"
) is a 1968 short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
. One morning, the village children find a seaweed covered body on the beach. They play with it until the adults discover the corpse and decide that it must be given a small funeral and thrown off the cliff which their village rests, into the sea as they do with all dead bodies. In order to do so, however, they must clean the corpse before it can be given final rest. The village men carry the body up to the village so that the village wives can prepare it for the funeral. Upon removing the sea plants from his face, they discover his handsome face.
The women of the village become attached to him and dream of the wonderful villager he could have been. At once they realize his physical qualities and translate how his personality must have been. The stranger’s body is quite tall, and his face is humble with a firm jaw. Thinking of how he must have had to stoop to enter doorways and how he must have felt uncomfortable in small chairs makes the women feel pity and sympathy for the man who had not uttered a word. They dress him in a hand-sewn suit of bridal linen and attach little ‘relics’ for his safety. Annoyed at the elaborate measures their wives are taking, the men of the village come to take the body. Nevertheless, they too see his face and are awed by the character they see in him. Soon the entire town begins making excessive funeral arrangements and one of the village families is chosen to pose as his relatives and grieving widow. No sooner had the villagers thrust his body from the cliff do they realize that one day he may come again. In celebration of the new life they had discovered, the village men irrigated their bleak and barren land to produce flowers, and the houses were painted in bright colors to identify Esteban’s Village and give him a home to which he could return.