David Arioch – Jornalismo Cultural

Jornalismo Cultural

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The fisherman and the golden fish

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It was a glinting golden as the first light as the sun was thrown on the Paraná River


One hour later, Orlando was startled to hear something crashing against the hull’s boat (Photo: Copy)

As he did every day, Orlando washed his face, brushed his teeth, prepared his stuff, said goodbye to his wife and granddaughter, and left the house in the silent darkness of the night. During the walk to the shore’s river, he listened to cicadas and crickets singing with such eagerness that seemed like they looked forward to the dawn.

When he touched a bamboo wall a few meters from the riverbank, Orlando lit the straw cigarette and watched the idle sun on the horizon appearing behind the water curtains – casting a glow that gilded the river as far as the eye could see. “What a beautiful thing! This view makes it worth waking up so early every day”, said Orlando downing and blowing a grizzly smoke coming out hot and then cold, leaving a wheezing and a bitter taste on his tongue. He remembered the exhaustive pleas of his wife asking him to stop smoking. Stubbornly, he still was smoking two or three cigarettes every morning.

Before the last smoke, Orlando’s Stern face gave way to a candid laugh, making his stomach hurt while he noticed eight frogs croaking and playing at the heart of a swamp. “It seems like a contest to see who sings louder. And there are those who say that the animals aren’t smart”, he commented when the smallest frog dodged a blow by the biggest toad.

Without distractions, Orlando walked to the river, knelt, revered sky, earth and water; rose on the boat, untied it, straightened his stuff and started the engine. He created wavelets and cut the water that became less turbid and more clear as it distanced from the shore.

When the fisherman was massaging his few gray hairs, the temperate and humid wind brought youthful memories about departed friends and deceased parents. Since he was 60 years old, he was tired, but not from the actions of the time on your body. The striated face did not bother him. Orlando simply didn’t know what was wrong with his life, so he continued doing what he always did. He was a fisherman since childhood and lived in five islands within the Paraná River. He fished a lot in 45 years, so he no longer took pleasure in plundering the treasure’s nature.

– Since they created the dam, many species of fish are gone. That’s what everyone says, including me. But do we also have no fault in it? All those years of fishing must have traumatized nature – reflected Orlando, scratching slightly his wrinkled chin – burned by frequent sun exposure.

For decades, he smiled in photographs, holding fish up to 180 pounds. He supplied many fishmongers in a distance of over 63 miles. But in the last five years, Orlando stopped seeing the animals taken from the water as if they were trophies.

In late afternoon, he chafed when his friend Larry, one of his clients, talked about disruptive business, claiming he was delivering few fish.

“Looks like you forgot how to fish. I know some kids out there who already are leaving you behind, my friend. You will say you’ve forgotten that you called Hook Eye? Let’s get smart here!”, complained Larry. During the crossing of the Alligator’s Lagoon, Orlando recalled the episode in the fish shop. He said nothing to Larry that day. He felt under pressure, but did not even understand the true reason.

Around 5 p.m., after visiting the Bahia River, he returned to shore. Discouraged, he saw the house itself highlighting on the hillside. He turned off the boat’s engine and kept silent, watching the water and the sky. The fisherman didn’t want to be there and delayed the inevitable, embittering the volatility of an existential crisis.

Saddened, he dozed, keeping his head propped up on the lifejacket. The night wanted to be born and he had not caught any fish. “What will they think of me?”, he asked. The sun was pious and covered his body with a warm light. One hour later, Orlando was startled to hear something crashing against the hull’s boat.

Faltering, he prepared the fishing rod and cast it into the water with dexterity, as if whipping the riverbed. In less than a minute, the fisherman felt the bending rod and something biting the hook. As he struggled to pull it, a fish moved violently under water. It was a glinting golden as the first light as the sun was thrown on the Paraná River.

Laying unwillingly in the boat, the 13 pound fish fought with vigor, struggling on a piece of canvas. Orlando scowled, clenched his teeth and avoided looking directly at the animal. His eyes ached. Still, he took the fish and wrapped it in canvas to not have to watch him and walked to the fish shop. There, he put the golden on a table with traces of viscera and dried blood and shouted:

– Hey, is anybody here? Where are you, Larry? I came to bring a golden fish. You always complain about the shortage of this one.

– I’m here, Orlando. In the back! Come and give me a hand. I need to change the freezer’s place.

Even reluctantly, Orlando helped Larry. Back at the reception, the golden was no longer there, only the piece of canvas that was rapped around him. The fisherman brought his hands to his head and his heart raced.

– I don’t believe this! It is not possible that someone took the fish here! What am I going to do now?

One hundred meters downhill, Orlando was shocked when he saw the golden fish jumping, trying to get close to the shore. Then he ran to him and before anyone else did, took him in his arms and went down without worrying about the slipper straps that undid on the way.

With dark eyes and a mouth that opened and closed all the time, the fish stopped struggling, and for the first time the fisherman saw his own reflection on the animal’s scales. More than anything, the golden longed for water. And the smell emanating from his body was not of flesh, but of life. In the light of the setting sun, as soon as the fish was thrown into the river, Orlando was reborn and the golden fish disappeared.