David Arioch – Jornalismo Cultural

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Archive for the ‘Beard’ tag

The beard and the boy Yusuf

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“I never imagined that one day I would see you speaking Portuguese. Amazing, son!”


In 1957, the boy named Yusuf died in Port Said (Photo: Copy)

When I was much younger, I had never considered the possibility of growing a beard. The truth is that I did not even know if there was a beard to grow. However, from an early age I was intrigued by the number of bearded thinkers and writers until the early 20th century.

Among the Brazilians, my earliest memories of my time at the college involve authors like Machado de Assis, José de Alencar and Gregório de Matos. I do not know whether the fact of growing a beard was a preference with aesthetic motivation or whether it had a relationship with the zeitgeist. In addition, I also recognize that in the past it was customary to keep facial hair to hide imperfections and scars caused by diseases such as smallpox.

Thinking internationally, Plato, Chaucer, Melville, Victor Hugo, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Whitman, Bram Stoker, Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, Bernard Shaw and Ginsberg are some bearded men who come to my mind at this time. And analyzing periods, it is fair to say that from the beginnings of philosophy and literature, the beard was present, and here I speak not as a form of social distinction, but as a resource of personal construction. However, today, unlike other times, bulky beards and long beards are almost always associated with hipsters, terrorists and religious fanatics. Of course, political parties.

Thinking about it, I remembered a singular experience after I became bearded. One day, I left around 8:00 am and went to the house of a man named Francisco, who arrived in Paranavaí in 1944. He agreed to give me an interview about the colonization times of the Northwest of Paraná. In front of his house, I rang the bell and watched a little dog roll around inside his wooden house.

It was not long when someone shouted from the distant porch: “Come in, my son. Come to me. “I opened the gate, climbed a few steps, and crossed the garden. There he was, tall and thin, sitting on a comfy brown chair with beige upholstery. Beneath his feet was a scattering of sand inside a small box. “What a nice old man!”, I thought, and then we shook our hands. Suddenly, he looked me in the eyes and said: “I bet you understand it more than I do.” I did not catch the message and I noticed his feet sinking slowly into the sand.

“Sand is life, isn’t it? How many shades of sand can you recognize?”, he asked. I was confused and I laughed, suspecting that the man was drunk or under heavy medication. Still, I replied: “It depends on the incidence of the sun, the factors of action and reaction. Hmm…thinking better, I suppose, I can identify 25 to 30. ”

– Splendid! I already imagined something like that. I was suspicious when I saw you”, he said.

And the conversation went a completely different way, leaving me sometimes hesitant. We talked almost nothing about his life, because most of the questions were asked by him. “I never imagined that one day I would see you speaking Portuguese. Amazing, son!”, he pointed out in the first ten minutes with a dubious smile.

He digressed heavily, and occasionally asked to see the palm of my hand. “You may not see it, but the traces of your hand say a lot about your beard. And whoever says that a beard is nothing more than hair on the face is a fool. It says a lot about the ways of a man’s life. It, in its sinuosity, is like a physical extension of your own mind. I know this because I have been growing a beard for almost 60 years”, he told, touching his gaunt white beard that covered his chin. So, he regretted that at the age of 86 he was no longer bearded like 20 years earlier.

I also noticed his damp eyes as he bent over and slid his index finger into the sandbox. Some tears dripped painfully, as if coming out of an eyedropper. Seeing that, I apologized and suggested that maybe we’d better schedule the interview for another day. Trembling, Francisco got up and asked me to give him a hug.

“Of course, mister Francisco”, I replied.

When his translucent wrinkled hands touched me, I heard his restrained sobs and his heart pounding. “Now, I could even shave my beard,” he whispered, weakened. Soon, he faded. I screamed and his wife appeared. She asked me to put him on the bed. Fainted, his expression was serene and I saw his meager smile. Respectfully, I did not ask for explanations, I said goodbye and walked to the porch, where I found a picture of a seven or eight-year-old child sitting on the shoulders of Francisco still young.

The following week, I discovered that the smiling little boy in the photo was an Egyptian orphan who would be adopted by Francisco, a former soldier of the Suez Battalion. In 1957, the boy named Yusuf died in his arms, after being shot in his head by an Israeli soldier on a mission in Port Said. “I will never shave my beard again in my life. Never! I swear by everything in this world, unless Yusuf returns to life”, shouted Francisco in tears that day.

Written by David Arioch

December 27th, 2016 at 11:54 pm

The Beard

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I never imagined that I would go through such an unpredictable and uncomfortable situation


He came home. Beside the bed was a comb and a series of products

I woke up and I kept lying in bed with a strange feeling. Even though I did not see him reflecting on the ceiling, I noticed my face had diminished. When I pressed my thumb and index finger of the right hand on my chin, I shuddered. It was plain. There was no thread of my full black beard. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom without feeling the beard touching my bare chest.

 In the mirror, my face looked so small. “No! That’s not me! It’s not right! What happened?” Even my head had shrunk. ”Dove head, pinhead!, I judged myself. And to make matters worse, I had rejuvenated at least ten years, which bothered me most of all.

Hairless, my face was so fulgid that I had to partially close my eyes and protect myself with my palms facing the mirror. I never imagined that I would go through such an unpredictable and uncomfortable situation. I left the room and slammed the door. I felt the breeze touching my skin unaccustomed to the absence of hairs.

My face was vulnerable, extremely sensitive and unprotected. Entangled, I went to the bathroom and poured some water over my face. “How strange to see the water touching my skin so easily.” I brushed my teeth and went back to the bedroom. I sat up in bed and I thought, without veiling melancholy.

 I definitely did not shave myself the night before. I did not even approach any kind of blade or razor. Where did the flat face come from? I was irritated, believing that some covetous man had stolen my beard in the dead of night.

I remembered the envious unbearded men, who were not few. There it was always one or another at each corner, looking at my beard at the level of my chest, fluttering with the breeze strokes. They showed their teeth pretending cordiality. Scoundrels! They must have banded together last night.

I leaned to the floor and began to look at it closely, trying to find at least one strand of my beard. There was nothing. Nothing! Nothing! The conspiracy was so well planned that there was no trace left. “How? How? How? What a terrible nightmare!”, I monologued, disconcerting my eyebrows.

I wore jeans, a t-shirt, a pair of sneakers, and I walked to the streets in an attempt to ease the agitation that consumed me. The sky remained clear, and the sun spread its light unreservedly. It was a beautiful day. To my surprise, friends and acquaintances did not recognize me. I got close to a comrade, and he frowned, spat on the ground and shouted that he had never seen me.

“Stand back, sir, stay away or I’ll call the police,” another man warned.

It’s all right. I crossed the Rondon Street and entered the Bank of Brazil. I went through the door and, as I always did, I approached the security guard to greet him. The man dodged and threatened to hit me.

“Do not come any closer to me like that!” Never again, sir! I could hurt you”, he declared.

Without saying a word, I stepped back, picked up a password for the bank tellers, and I sat in a blue armchair, watching the electronic panel. Worried about the time, I opened my wallet, but I could not find the bank card. “What am I going to do? More time wasted, frankly …” Anxious and cranky, I took a deep breath, and stared at a fixed point in a small transparent space in the partition separating the clientele from the cashiers.

I did not believe what I saw. I condemned myself to insanity. Something furry and slender in his smallness walked across the partition carrying an orange card. He had no human hands, but improvised fingers with his own hair. When he noticed, I was watching him. After, he stepped forward in a rush through the legs of the security guard. He was like a little king of the maneuvers.

Bastard! Ungrateful! Disgraceful! You little son of a bitch! How could you do this to me? I screamed into my own consciousness, itching in my mouth.

It was my beard! On the way out of the bank, he swung my card and ran off with his pelous feet, which kept hygienic distance from the floor, as if floating. For fear of drawing attention, or fearful of the embarrassment of being ignored, I walked in disguise. Outside, my beard ran lightly, almost disappearing around the corner.

In desperation, I put my hands to my head and shouted:

“Stop! Stop that beard around the corner! Look! Looks like a fluey little man! But it is not! He is faking it! It is a sneaky being! It’s a beard! Do not let that hairy crook run away! He stole my card! You damn bastard!”

Almost nobody heard me. The few who attended my cry, laughed and shouted: “Another drunk in this city! Get out of here, you crazy one! I’m sick of all this bullshit!” One of them called a police car as I ran down the sidewalk. Close to touching my hands on the fledgling beard, I felt someone pull me by my arm.

The scent of the beard faded like the most ephemeral of illusions. Rascal, he stopped running and began to walk slowly, shaking my card and making fun of my situation. Before entering the Hairdresser’s House, he stretched the ends of his long mustache, straightened his hairy ass, and rocked it before crossing the threshold.

I wanted to squeeze him and sharpen him with punches and kicks, but I could not do that with my beard. I needed it whole. Him? I do not know! How to define a beard? Male or female? Whatever! I was taken to the police station. They made the report, qualifying me as an offender, disturbing the peace. There, I met three co-workers and, once again, I was not recognized by anyone.

“No, I’ve never seen him. I know a person by that name, but it’s not him. It must be mere coincidence”, told one of the comrades.

I paid bail and I was released. With nothing to lose, I told the investigator everything that happened that morning. He recommended an appointment with his brother-in-law, a psychiatrist. Enraged, I returned to my home recognizing the defeat, and decided to write a story about the disappearance of my beard. The newspaper did not want to publish it, describing it as implausible. It’s all right. I was happy to publish a note on the online classifieds.

“Wanted – black bulky closed beard. It has independent profile, male shape, athletic posture, spacious walk, elongated mustache, handlebar type, and hides between the hair an orange bank card. Good reward will be paid for any information about his whereabouts.”

Only the most cunning opportunists responded to the announcement, bringing me other people’s beards, and with their varied colors and shapes. Most of them, probably collected from the barbers shop’s floor.

At the end of the afternoon, I gave up looking for him. The next morning, when I got up and scratched my chin, I ran to the bathroom mirror. I just smiled. He came home. Beside the bed was a comb and a series of products. Yeah. I should have taken better care of my beard.

Written by David Arioch

December 16th, 2016 at 12:09 am