4. Still the inhabitants

bucket and zé da silva

Translated by Angela Telles-Vaz
Proofread by Izabel Arocha

    I was sitting on the ground, in the middle of the small group, maybe on my first or second day there, someone called:
    Bucket came and looked at me. The nickname was very weird. I started laughing.
    Bucket?, I asked.
    Shit Bucket? still laughing. I don't know which association had led me to this.
    Shit Bucket is a punch in the middle of your horns.
    He was angry and I completely shrunk, ashamed and fearful. It was a new situation. I didn't want to face it. A more aggressive reaction filled me with fear and I would have hated to have to fight. So the shame and fear. I also felt sorry when I realized I had offended him.
    However, nothing happened. He grumbled a bit, looking angry at me with anger and grief, and the memory stumbles here. So from then on, we were always friends, always participating in everything, any erased memory shows me a piece of that creature.
    Bucket. Would be alive today, the man that in the lost days of my childhood bore the burden of that nickname? What a small donation of destiny that didn't give him even a name! It was not Francisco, Paulo or José. It could at least be Chico, Zé, Mané! No. Bucket. It's Bucket that's all. It will be Bucket until the end of my memories.
    Bucket was a mulatto. The most striking feature of his face was that his jaws were up front, as if the teeth had to come first. I don't remember any trace of his character. The only thing that occurs to me is loyalty of companionship. At the stream, in the fields, with the clay or the ball, Bucket is present. Neither bitter nor sweet, he doesn't laugh or cry, he isn't light as Valdemar or melancholic as Hermes. He is the companion.
    The last of these small playmates from my dispersing memory was called Zé da Silva. New irony. The former had no name, this one has first and last name, and yet, first and last name that do not belong to anyone, being that in Brazil it's the most common name of all. Were his teeth too white?, or did they seem extremely white because of the violent contrast with his absolute blackness! Did he laugh all the time?, or did the absolute whiteness of his teeth legitimized his laugh even more! I don't know. To me, those will always be the most beautiful teeth in the world, this smiling little black boy. Owner of a fierce energy, he jumps more than all of us, plays more than all of us and moves more than all of us, like a powered ant. I cannot imagine sadness in this little creature, the one I remember now or the one I just imagine in the future. Valdemar would display later some fleeting pain in his light colored eyes, Hermes would cry, Bucket seemed fragile, he would tremble easily. But not Zé da Silva. The tiny black boy would always have that white and huge smile, a gratuitous eco of the response that the African clay gave to the black deity on the day of creation. It is easy to see him as a happy dancer in some Samba School during Rio's Carnival. You can also easily think of him loving the most beautiful black girl, ephemeral mixture of two eternal nights.
    I would need to struggle to conceive him fallen down, in the middle of the mud, bloodied, pierced by the bullets of justice. That smile didn't light that kind of path. I do know though that this is a possible path.
    I pointed out two other names, Bleached Kitty and Little Marcos. The presence of these pictures inside of me is a curious fact. Both remained thanks to two incidents that occurred during my stay there. They exist neither before nor later, only during these two quick and outstanding moments.
    Bleached Kitty was white and blond; milky white as milk, blond as wires of a maize spike. He had a fine voice and each sentence would bring laughter because he was natural from that region with a hillbilly accent that made carioca's laugh. It seemed that he had an older brother as white as himself or even more. Two pieces of white paper, released in the middle of the colors brown, copper, bronze, purple, pink and black. They were elusive and frightened and gave me the impression of being endangered animals.
    One day I had a fight with Bleached Kitty. I don't know why. The earliest memory begins with our bodies grappling. I don't know if it lasted, I don't know if it was fast. I know that he scratched my whole face and the scratch burned me for many days. Was that what incited his nickname? Had he fought using his nails before? I also don't recall. I'll be repeating this sentences a lot, I don't remember, I don't know, I don't remember, my morning suns had not yet lit up all the limits of my experience and only those strongest moments left their mark; even these inaccurate and volatile. It's not the case.
    The impression that the fight left on me was for a change stronger than the actual fight. I remember the moral pain I felt for hurting him. I never fought. It was the only time during those twenty months. I was afraid, humble, gentle, a coward, many things. But above all, I felt sorry to harm, to hurt. The scratches on my face caused me a kind of comfort because I could imagine that I was not the only offender, I had also been offended.
    Little Marcos was tiny. With fair skin, blond with a figure worthy of card saints. I remember him as a very unpleasant boy. Unlike Bucket, he had his teeth inwards and spoke with affected Cs which irritated me a lot. It should have been a kind of instinctive and primary jealousy because he was also protected by the older ones. I remember that he lost a lot of weight and suddenly disappeared from the Orphanage. He was on the priest's house, they said, with TB. On a given day, looking over the wall, someone said to have seen him riding a horse and the image filled me with resentment. We mentioned the kind of delicious foods that he should be eating. Around his regrettable absence, we weaved heavens made of blankets, sweets, promenades and spaghetti. Some time later he returned. Showing colored cheeks and a little fuller, no longer the little pale skeleton that threatened to fall at every strong wind. I don't know from where I got the impression that, after his return he seemed more sympathetic, with a friendlier smile, spoke without any diction problem. Despite this less grim picture, he was never remembered in the games we played, he seems not to belong to the group, he doesn't return anymore.
    There are other names that hurt the strings of my harp of memories. But I'm a little tired of people for now. I'll return to this later. Now I'm in need of the environment, some room, I want to start living remembering again the memories of those days. I'll begin reciting the rosary passages I do remember. I want the ground, classes, the night to sleep and food. This group of little ghosts of mine are sighing to bath in the stream, play ball, write their letters, what do I know? So I will describe the scene of the tragedy, the unfair battlefield of fights between such unequal forces.

    to be continued on next sunday.   

Atualizado em ( 25 - 08 - 2011 22:53 )