25. Finale

Translated by Angela Telles-Vaz

    It happened, if I'm not mistaken, during one of the many afternoons when we had to pray aloud, after the national anthem, before going upstairs. In that twilight of a dream, that threatened another nightmare of night blindness, in that afternoon of fire-red, it was said that a list of the new ones dismissed was going to be read. The names would fly over the silence, as sacred birds. Perched on one of the zombies, and he would be resurrected.

    Et Ressurrexit Rex!

    with the soloists, the chorus and all the grand orchestra of Beethoven's Missa Sollemnis. The black mass would come to an end for some of those victims who would escape, thus, from the eternal sacrifice.
    At the time, I never asked myself if I deserved to be there or not. For me, it was enough being poor to deserve it, even though I knew that there were students in a worse situation, because they were marginalized orphans, besides being poor. They were unaware of the math and geography of Minas Gerais. They had been hunted down like the stray dogs that the Animal Care office takes to the soap factory. Actually, the streets remained cleaner without them, a social soap.
    Similarly, the idea of leaving didn't hurt or touch me. I didn't know if I deserved that ite missa est that they were throwing at me so unexpectedly. I said before, that the first emotion was of insecurity and sorrow for having to separate myself from my little friends. I think that the joy of giving up everything was overcoming and nourished inside of me the fantasy that one day, they too, would leave that place.
    After that terrible scene, in which I was pulled up next to my brother and my crippled namesake was pulled out of the line, with frightened eyes, after that, we went upstairs. I kept thinking that perhaps the night would be like any other.
    The morning would be like to die backwards.

    We talked a lot and they looked at me as if I were a god. My voice faltered and came out in a whisper. Hermes cried. My little friend made of bronze or copper, the painting that El Greco forgot to paint, tall and skinny and with huge and transparent eyes, the little bronze was seized with a convulsion, shaking his sharp bones. I also remember Zé da Silva looking at me with a strange smile, he seemed happy for me, perhaps. It was all very confusing.
    I learned later, that the big ones put little pieces of paper with written addresses, inside the hem of their pants, wrote names on the pack of cigarettes, they knew by heart streets and numbers. They had the most heroic mission that may have already been in any of the wars of humanity: to bring to the parents, mothers, uncles, godparents and neighbors, what do I know?, bring the news, not that life was lived but how life was lived. Hope, in fact, is going to die exactly at the moment when the last man dies.
    All useless, the addresses they knew by heart unless. On Hallelujah morning, they stripped us of our clothes and gave us brand new overalls.
    They uncovered the stone tomb and a gust of fresh air kindled our soul. I'm already on a train. There stood the shroud frayed overalls, some full of piss, keeping in their hems the convicts in distress. In there, stayed the two black angels, Antonio and Sinuca, to stand guard to the door of the tomb. I lie. Antonio took us, together with Aluísio. Only one black angel stand guard the entrance like a malnourished Cerberus: Sinuca, who had thin legs, the patched executioner. He would stand guard in vain, because the pious women wouldn't go there with their perfumes.
    Ah, the pious women were crying while waiting for us. The mothers and the aunts and the sisters and the godmothers would be waiting for the melancholic group. A skeletal bunch of hairy boys, in those days it was terrible to be hairy. Lips were swollen and injured, feet were dusty and chapped, white spots all over the face.
    I remember two happenings during the course of the trip.
    A kind man, hat on his head, sat next to me and asked me questions, where I was coming from, where I was from, the name of the institution, my voice cracking down muttered little bits of each answer. Before leaving he gave me a coin. I got a match box and kept it there with care, not understanding anything. It was the treasure that I shouldn't deserve, something should be wrong, I, free, and with money in my hand.
    The other fact was with the fat and fair skinned woman with very black hair. The train stopped at whatever station. She put her face at the window and, facing me, entered the car, talking very loudly. She held me, smoothed my hair, left in a hurry and soon came back full of grief, with a bunch of bananas in her hand, soon disappearing. That bunch of bananas terrified me. Geraldo talked about giving it away and the terror dissipated because the cross seemed to break off in pieces and hurt me less.
    We stayed sometime at MAS (Minor Assistance Services), in São Cristóvão. I think for a few hours. The film jumps. There are cuts. Suddenly, two faces appear. Neuza and Maria da Glória! Would they be Neuza and Zélia? Neuza and Ieda? I'm not ashamed of being unable to remember. Too much light for a little heart poorly initiated in such splendid new secret rituals.
    Is there anything left? I don't know where it all ends. Now?, when crossing over the gate of MAS and entering inside a great unknown city. Or at the store we went in next?, where they bought us new clothes, that we wore there at the spot. It was also needed to go to a barber, to reduce our savage looking.
    Before the arrival at the new home, a room in a quarter at Conde de Bonfim Street, a blessed, wonderful violent storm fell down, that tried but failed, to take away the mud of the white herons and wash away the blood splattered by the scavengers.
    Hand in hand, wet to the skin, we walked the four of us, two little brothers, carrying the full weight of the enchantment, two older sisters, guardians, protective, they talk loud, they are happy, they also carry a burden and the work has to be sufficient to feed everyone.
    And, at that moment, the Empress of Souls commands that I look back. There, those terrifying creatures, who stopped in time and remained looking at me, more and more distant, the white herons, memories of enchanting moments of childish joy, the fierce and implacable scavengers, memories of the astonished in the face of sufferings not understood.
    I quickly close my eyes and say goodbye to all of them, I know that I feel a mix of horror and happiness.
    But the Empress of Souls whispers malignantly that my farewell is vain:
    Those memories are being left behind, it's true, but by my decree, you are doomed to remain handcuffed to them. Here is all the freedom that I grant you. For this is what you were born for. If you aspire for any other freedom, look up in the ethics of your future actions.

    I don't remember my mother's smile. Oh!, yes!, she wasn't at home! It was Sunday, when we saw, Geraldo and I, through the grids of a window of a ward of the Moncorvo Filho Hospital, it was on Sunday, when we saw, from afar, her extremely melancholic smile and her vague glance of Nyobe-Hecuba.

      Curitiba, August 6 1974.

Atualizado em ( 24 - 12 - 2011 22:30 )