3. The residents

waldemar and hermes

Translated by Angela Telles-Vaz
Proofread by Izabel Arocha

    I spoke about herons and claws and beaks. Herons fly, it's true. But claws and beaks are a literary exaggeration. Now, I don't remember a fact that pains me, that frightens me, that panics me. Something must have been terrible at the time, but today it doesn't make any difference.
    I think that these memories could be just herons. On that occasion, it's true, it must have been tragic, fatal, deformed and monstrous birds, there are a few similar, no more herons, but terrifying creatures in the almost hidden corners of Hieronymus Bosch. But after so long, now, these memories of mine show themselves soft and delicate, white flying herons in a Japanese painting.
    And if I ask myself if this marked the paths through which wonders my experience, I say I do not know. It is possible. It is very possible. The halo which I thread for myself, the protective armor of shyness, the future scares, the longing I felt. I don't know. I don't know. It's possible. It's very possible.
    It's almost certainly yes.
    The following scene that comes to my mind shows me already sitting on the floor among some boys. No, they were not boys, they were lads or kids. The Orphanage was in Campo do Meio, State of Minas Gerais. Searching later in books on municipalities, from IBGE (the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), I found out it was called: Saint Joseph's Professional and Agricultural Institute. We were in Minas, but the environment was more like the carioca people from Rio de Janeiro. Most of us had been herded, assembled at the city which was at the time the country's capital: white, blacks and mulattos. Pretty soon, I found out that I was one of the youngest. This would help me terribly, making things much easier for me, to the detriment of the older ones. I don't know the age limits of that small population and, even less, the number of its inhabitants. I imagine that the age would vary between six and fourteen years old. (weren't they supposed to take another path later?). I never get an accurate idea on the number of children and adolescents. What pettiness our memory depends on! A fly can allow it to raise empires, compose immense panels. Well...
    The little ones formed their small groups just like the bigger ones. I would like to remember about the closest, the more intimate ones: Valdemar, Hermes, Bucket, Zé da Silva, Bleached Kitty, Little Marcos... I must have forgotten someone... Maybe forever.
    Valdemar was fair skin, had a hoarse voice. Curly hair, green, grey, blue kind of eyes, his eyes changed colors with each memory. He would sit on the ground and would draw a mermaid profile. Inevitably, he would draw a mermaid profile. With him I learned how to draw female profiles that haunt me until today. Is that the reason why the women of Piero della Francesca impress me so much? those huge foreheads, eyes a little puffy, slightly primitive traits…Valdemar is there to accompany me during all the memories. When I say "we", without referring to the entire student body, I will be talking about him and a few other friends.
     I think he was older than me. I don't remember him in the classroom. Or would it be many of the same age?, as to be spread over the same class. I don't know. Valdemar is with me when we draw on the ground, play with clay or sing.
    Hermes was a mulatto, tall and thin. One day I learned that the first Brazilian president was called Marshal Hermes and from then on I always tried to imagine my little friend dressed as a marshal holding a sword or something that the president usually handles. I never could. His looks were laughable, unbalanced with that confused and imprecise load, medals, horse, perhaps a crown, uniform, cape and many more important things! He was Hermes again, soft mulatto, thin, tall. His voice was sharp. His eyes remind me of transparent honey. It seems as I could pass through him when looking into his eyes. His skin was beautiful like burned bronze and later when in middle school I studied that the Egyptians skin were like bronze or copper, and so are the Hindus, I thought immediately about my distant friend, he would certainly be Egyptian or Hindu for he had straight hair and was tall and thin. I remember more: sometime after my departure, he said that all of us were all very thin. I could see the painful truth. And I remembered how he was strong and looked beautiful to me, the first time I saw him.
    Was Hermes or Valdemar who taught the rest of the group the little song about St. Peter?
    My father tied my eyes                
    So St. Peter could untie them.      
    The girl who takes pity on me
    Come here and untie my eyes…   
    I cannot remember. However I remember that it was him, for sure the one who renovated the wheels of the little cars made of clay and we were all marveled with the invention of the carburetor bars. I will return to this in another chapter.
    The last image I have of this sad and skinny boy, with the transparent look like an angel is from the night before my departure. He was deeply sad, head down and discouraged. I think he was crying. I said I would rather not go. I didn't want to leave him there. He said that I had no right to be sad. I had a mother, I was leaving and it was a beautiful dream. They would remain suffering, eating misery, being kicked in the ass, getting thinner... He put his little arms next to mine and, seeing those bones under the skin, my whole body trembled and I felt as if a knife was moving inside my heart. It really hurt to see him with arms so skinny, so weak and melancholic.
    I said no more claws or vultures beaks on me. But what kind of mystery feels my eyes with tears and make my hands shake? Where did the benevolent ghost of this little mulatto angel hide, he who didn't grow up, didn't accompany me through life, who is planted within me as an undying boy?

    to be continued on next sunday.

Atualizado em ( 18 - 10 - 2011 13:03 )