David Arioch – Jornalismo Cultural

Jornalismo Cultural

Archive for the ‘Lesson’ tag

The ephemeral poetry of the Ephemera

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One day, when I was a child, I asked my mother what ephemeral means. She did not answer. Two days later, we went to a stream and in the middle of the grass was a dragonfly-like insect. He moved lightly, and he had the same edacity as the water hitting rocks. His body was yellow, brown, and black, but as he swung his wings, he looked like a gleam of gold.

As it was the weekend, my mother suggested that we spend all the day in that place, watching the routine of that singular insect. Late in the afternoon, after a nap, I woke up and saw him flying toward a small tree. There, he nestled and rested. My mother and I approached a little, and saw that the specimen did not move, it seemed fragile. I thought he was dead.

My mother warned me to be calm. An hour later, the insect deposited a large amount of eggs on one of the most hidden branches, and no longer moved. The flesh simply went away. So I asked what happened. “Why did he die like this, and right now when we came here?” My mother smiled and explained that the insect was actually a female that became an adult in the morning:

Her adult life began shortly before our arrival and ended now. She exists only for others to exist. She barely feeds because time is short, and her children need to be born. That is why her name is Ephemera, and that is what ephemeral means, everything that has a short duration. A word that should always be used in reference to the gifts of communion that we do not have the privilege of enjoying because it is time to go away.

Written by David Arioch

February 7th, 2017 at 11:06 am

The Bookseller of Arthur Bernard Street

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From a distance, he looked like a suspicious character out of one of the Charles Dickens stories


The first edition of David Copperfield, the greatest treasure of the John Romani’s family (Foto: Reprodução)

At least once a month, the bookseller John Romani came to our house at Artur Bernard Street, when I was nine years old. Through the branches of tropical almond, I saw him crossing the Silvio Meira Street, carrying the same brown suitcase, adorned with names of dozens of writers.

From a distance, he looked like a suspicious character out of one of the Charles Dickens stories. He was no more than 35 years old, medium build, olive skin, a peculiar walk and dressed as a man of the 1920s, with his fedora hat carefully aligned, and a slim fit coat. Next to the suitcase, he always carried an umbrella, that could be taken apart and used as a walking stick.

When I met him, he was in the house gate talking to my mother, offering a collection of 16 volumes of Barsa Encyclopedia. As the bookseller spoke, in a growing paroxysm, everything came alive and became more important than it really was. He smiled, gestured and moved his feet from one side to the other, making the encyclopedia presentation a theatrically didactic performance.

That was how John Romani persuaded her to buy the collection, in negotiations more motivated by their selling methods than the quality of the product. His power of persuasion only did not surpass his most virtuous human qualities. And that day, he asked permission from my mother to rest for a few minutes on the balcony. She consented without flinching.

Invited in, he sat in a chair with nylon strings and my mother went to the kitchen to bring a cup of coffee while the drizzle shone serene on our garden. Before opening the suitcase, he took off his hat and kept it on the umbrella’s tip, anchored on the window grid. He adjusted his brown wavy hair, and asked my name. I answered and he shouted excitedly:

“Wow! Stupendous! David! Do you know if your parents chose your name because of the young David Copperfield? Do you know his story?” I smiled and enthusiastically with his charisma, I asked if he spoke about the magic or the boy. “That’s right! The boy!”, he said. With the simplicity inherent in children, I told him that he was an orphan, and suffered greatly because he lived alone in the world. Nevertheless, he believed in humans, in a better world.

Very good! You know, David? I’m Romani, I have gypsy origin, and we never believe that names are chosen at random. I’m sure it says a lot about who you are and who you will be. David Copperfield was extremely persevering, a dreamer, and though I have known you today, I believe that you will be like him. Our meeting has a special meaning that one day may make more sense in your life – told the bookseller with an enigmatic expression, which further highlighted his square face and his velvety big eyes like a fruit of the tropical almond.

My mother did not take long to return with the coffee. John Romani thanked her and drank in silence, watching Happy and Chemmy playing in the garden, rolling on the damp grass, with the jasmine scent, and stubbornly jumping on the plant bed. With a curious look, the bookseller smiled at the spectacle of everyday life. He scrutinized so strictly the trivial things that even the most ordinary of scenes seemed to convey something surreal.

When I threatened to take off Happy and Chemmy from the grass, preventing them from becoming even more dirty, I heard a double and synchronized sound. The bookseller was opening the suitcase. At the same moment, I pulled away from the two poodles and approached him, intrigued to know what he was carrying.

“Look, I’ll tell you a secret. I usually do not show anyone the treasure I carry with me, but as I believe you are a genuine David Copperfield, I know that there is no problem”, he said, then asked me to close my eyes and extend my arms. Soon, I felt something plastic between my little fingers.

On my hands was a neat copy of David Copperfield. The cover was green and had provocative illustrations of the adventures of the young orphan. Although I did not understand in depth the importance of that moment, I was very happy to hold the work in my hands. And the countenance of Romani made me realize that I was faced with an invaluable opportunity.

“It’s different from the book of St. Vincent School. It seems that this is older and less colorful. Remember an old magazine, a hornbook”, I commented without hiding innocence. The bookseller gave a short laugh, took the work from a protective packaging and asked me to read what was written on the cover. “You forgive me, I am not good in English”, I justified. Then, he said I did not need to read everything, and showed me the year of the book – 1849.

This was the first edition of David Copperfield, the greatest treasure of the John Romani’s family. His great-grandfather Vladimir received a copy of the hands of Charles Dickens shortly after the release. “He fled to England in 1846, and later he met the author at the corner of the publisher Bradbury and Evans in London. My great-grandfather worked as a shoeshine boy, and one day Charles Dickens talked to him. If it does not fail my memory, he said the following, before handing David Copperfield: “Here’s a seed. Maybe becomes a gift”, recounted the bookseller smiling.

The young gypsy met Dickens three more times. In the last rendezvous, the author made the 15-year-old boy cry when he stated that he might have written a better story if David Copperfield was based on Vladimir’s life. Born in Romania, the great-grandfather of John Romani was a serf, slave of a wallachian boyar – transylvanian aristocrat. He was an orphan, and he spent most of his childhood doing housework and working in mining in exchange for food, until one day Vladimir managed to escape.

Even as a child, I was awestruck with the narrative, and the resourcefulness of the bookseller guaranteed more realism to the story. The copy of David Copperfield, who I held with both my hands, had a dedication, and Vladimir’s name written by Charles Dickens appeared on the protagonist’s name, a simple gesture of affection.

There was a moment that I noticed him with teary eyes, trying hard not to weep. He made so much effort that the veins of his neck stood out, and revealed a discreet and vivid tattoo near his neck. It was based on a combination of colors that I could not identify. There was no design, only two words – Pacha Dron. I discovered a few years ago which means the way of life.

As soon as the mist disappeared, John Romani packed David Copperfield and tucked it inside the suitcase, with the same care that a mother dedicated to her son to put him to sleep in the crib. When the suitcase was closed, I felt a warm and fleeting air caressing my cheeckbones. The bookseller stood up, said goodbye to my mother and I accompanied him to the gate. Outside, he snapped his fingers, pointed at me and said: “Goodbye, David Copperfield!” He gave a wink and went to Arthur Bernard Street as a singular character. If in coming, and by far, he seemed to me a kind of Uriah Heep, in turn, he resembled more a hybrid of Ham Peggotty and Dr. Strong.

John Romani visited me over a year. Regardless of climate and weather, he always returned. One day, when it was raining a lot, the bookseller clapped his hands in front of my house – he was soaked, unprotected by the umbrella which was useless by the violence of the water. “Commitment is commitment!”, he claimed smiling. After hearing a good scolding from my mother, the kind that parents give their rioters children, he watched, hid his laughter and, crestfallen, accepted the reproach, until we started to laugh.

Attached to a profession that came into his family through his great-grandfather Vladimir, his greatest satisfaction was through the streets selling books. And for him, nothing was more important than the pleasure of telling stories and arouse feelings. On one occasion, when he was robbed, he gave all the money and bent over the suitcase in the middle of the asphalt, protecting the books; until the bandits disappeared as if they had never approached him.

At our last meeting, next to Christmas, John Romani left me as guardian of a Fountain pen that his great-grandfather gave to his grandfather hours before he died. “David Copperfield, this pen was used by Charles Dickens in the draft of Great Expectations. And what is the greater example of hope that put in your hands something that exists since 1860 or even earlier? Yeah…”, he said. That was the last time I saw the bookseller to whom I still keep the Fountain pen.

Hopefully, when the reality ceases to exist for me, as the vaporous shadows that my imagination separates voluntarily this time, I can find what is truly most important next to me, with my raised finger pointing to heaven! – wrote Dickens in David Copperfield, in an excerpt modified by me.

Written by David Arioch

November 7th, 2016 at 10:58 pm

Visit the dead

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How could it be gloomy if there are plants growing around the graves?


I didn’t consider a graveyard as a dark place. Quite the opposite (Photo: Copy)

In my childhood, I liked to go to the cemetery. I didn’t go there very often, but the experience quite pleased me, because it gave me the impression that I was entering another world, where the living meets the dead. I didn’t consider a graveyard as a dark place. Quite the opposite. How could it be gloomy if there are plants growing around the graves? If dogs and cats frequent the place?

It wasn’t hard to understand why. The calm, the preeminent silence on most days, allowed the most attentive beings hear the sounds of the earth, besides harmony and dissonance of the species in their insightful relationships with nature. I still remember a couple of chalk-browed mockingbirds singing a short distance from the grave of my great-grandmother, a few steps from the necropolis entrance.

The soft chirping accompanied the solemn breeze that came as a breath. It protruded from the top of a tree, where cotton, grass and dry twigs were a nest-shaped basket. “Hmm … one will be born”, I thought. Suddenly, a thrush leaned next to the white wall, renovated with lime, and started scratching the ground in search of food. He watched me without worry and continued scratching the soil, perhaps confident in his shrewdness, as he was at home, where the stranger was me.

I turned away and walked to the left to read the inscriptions and epitaphs written extemporaneously in concrete or engraved on bronze plates. “Why are the graves so different? They couldn’t be equals?”, I asked my parents. They explained that the greatest normally belong to the rich. Some people believe that the bigger the grave, the higher the level of importance of the deceased. Based on this pharaonic belief, it is assumed that even strangers will be attracted by the mausoleums. The impressiveness always helped them stand out among the rest, as a flourish that naively romanticize the inevitable fate of all beings.

In my reflections, tombs, however different they were, reminded me of product packaging or gift packages. I mean, no matter how sumptuous the grave was, the truth is that they are regarded with the same matter. Some mausoleums I saw as strongholds created to protect or ensure the fragile human transience. Doors, windows and large rings made me suspect that perhaps the family believed in the possibility of a return of the deceased loved one. “Do they think that one day the dead will get up and walk out the door?”, I asked.

I also learned that sometimes a homeric tomb may reveal a material form of affection, or delayed compensation to the dead for some misunderstanding or meager participation in your life. I heard stories of people moved by flagellant remorse spent small fortunes in the construction of tombs. Some works cost more expensive than a house. The materials were brought from other parts of Brazil and other countries, thus ensuring the catacomb a sui generis privilege.

“Did you know that Orlando’s family hired a mannerist artist to create the project of the grave?” I heard this one morning. Perhaps there was an intrinsic relationship with the memorial or human absurdity before the finitude, an exercise in symbolic perpetuation. “Let’s create something so that he is never forgotten. For centuries after his death he is still remembered. Even though none of us live long, others, even strangers, will be here to see him”, someone thinks, refusing to believe that the death of our always changes something within us, but the world will continue following his natural course, confirming our smallness, regardless of our pain.

Looking around, and seeing both assortment of colors, types, sizes and decorations, I remembered a lesson from teacher Babeto. He showed us photos of a graveyard in France, where death reaffirms the indistinctness of humans. On the green lawn was just white crosses in concrete. Everything seemed so uniform, harmonious, fair and consistent. After all, there is nothing to be proved when life fades, as we are what we do in life.

Perhaps some are too passionate to accept that their loved ones were also overcome by passing, like so many others. So, I don’t doubt that for some, the grave is now seen as an address, where the end is to be postponed until the time that the last brick or marble was wrapping the coffin.

Anyway, I never felt as intrigued by mausoleums, like how I felt for old graves, helpless, relegated to ostracism – which rarely receive visits from family and friends of the deceased. Curious and inquisitive, I found vaults abandoned for decades, built by families that no longer exist, with stories and surnames lost in time – obsolete and extinct as rare specimens. Some graves have vanished because they were not perpetual, mostly of peasants or humble people.

In the 1990s, for example, I visited the grave of two little girls that were ten years old, childhood friends of my mother. On a rainy day in the 1960s, they were struck by lightning while they washed dishes in the back of the house. They died in agony on a dirt floor that darkened the light hair that covered their faces.

The tragedy touched many ranchers who walked on foot for long distances to pray for the children, helpless, in the most allegorical of weaknesses, surrounded by coffee plantations that soon would cease to bloom and bear fruit. Mistress Mary visited her daughter and niece until the day that no perpetual tomb was destroyed to make way for another deceased child, who did not run the risk of having his remains relocated because they paid enough for that privilege. I received that news three years ago, after searching the vault in vain.

I have memories of how small the two tombs were. No bronze plates, photos, names or any information. Over time, and without fanfare, they continued to exist for a few to the full and figured fading material. “They were good girls. But the cycle of them in this place is over. Maybe it was better that way. The mother suffered too much”, said an old lady with a plaintive smile.

I walked to another grave, watching this old lady who introduced herself as Tania. Her glittering and vernal eyes contrasted with her skin and slender face pied by the action of the time. She had a sweet voice, from who accepts what life offers, and no matter how small the gift, she still grateful. Tania visited her husband once a month since 1957, which is when he died as a result of malaria.

He worked building roads in my town, until one day he became ill and could not get up anymore. He did not receive the last two months of work. “I went to the boss’s house to get the unpaid wages. Hence the man shouted: ‘I have nothing for you, woman! My business was with your husband. Get out of here!’ I was not angry because of it. I just left”, she told me. Years later, Tania learned that the man was shot to death because he sold a farm with two houses, and he tried to bring down one of those to resell the wood.

After her husband’s death, Tania never had another relationship with men. She still wears on her finger the wedding ring purchased in 1951. When I asked if she did not feel very alone, Tania argued that loneliness does not live in a heart in communion with the life. Also, I questioned why she kept visiting her husband after so long.

While she cleaned the grave with a piece of flannel, one of the simple ones of the graveyard, dedusting as if making caresses, she watched me with a candid smile and replied: “The human being who is not faithful to his promises can not be true to yourself. So how I do every month, I am here fulfilling my promise, not out of obligation, but because it invigorates my heart. Life is everywhere, in the earth entrails and in the uncertainties of the sky, and the cemetery is no different. I also see here the east, as well as the west. “

Written by David Arioch

October 11th, 2016 at 12:01 am

The cat of Paraná Village

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Photo: Copy

Cherubim heard gunshots followed by meowing. Outside, on the sandy dirt road, Ranulph did not move, and was sprawled over a portion of sibipiruna’s fine sheets. His mouth was still hanging open, exposing the pain of death not even spared the most innocent beings.

The boy tried to stop crying because he was afraid to look too sentimental. Cherubim made so much effort that the hot tears, that threatened to drain the corners of the eyes, disappeared without gaining the principle of freedom.

Angry, Cherubim noted Matias on the mango tree, smiling and aiming the shotgun in his direction. “Do you want too? I give you, muggle!”, warned the boy. Cherubim said nothing. Only scratched his head, regardless of the dusty cloud that was forming around his head like orange mist.

Keeping his back in front of the killer, the boy crouched and made caresses on the cat’s belly. The kitten no longer felt Cherubim’s hands on his clear fur. Where there was a pair of blue eyes, it remained a small shapeless mass. Two bashful tears fell, moistening the cat’s dry mouth. It was too late.

The hours passed away, and the nature buried Ranulph, covering his body with sandy soil, gradually transported from the forest by south wind. “Cherubim! Take this animal here. It will start to stink”, they said. He just nodded his head in agreement, without even moving his legs that rested on the curb.

When the earth, dragged by gale, invaded the cat’s mouth, the boy approached and cleaned it using a washcloth moistened with water. In the late afternoon, he tried to bury Ranulph in his mother’s garden. He was reprimanded as he was digging the earth with his grandfather’s trowel. “Are you mad, boy?! This is no place to bury an animal!”, complained his grandfather.

The old man picked up the dead cat by the back skin and put him into a thick dark bag. It looked like a cadaver pouch in PVC. He hung the bag on the handlebars of the bike, and rode to a vacant lot used as a garbage dump in the nearest neighborhood. He returned without a word, walked into the kitchen, took a bitter sip of coffee and laid down on the hammock.

Cherubim was watching the old man, wondering what he did to Ranulph. Without the courage to ask, he recalled a law imposed in Paraná village in the 1970s, when three large dogs killed two babies. “No one can come here with animals. If someone kills an animal, nobody can cry or bury him, or they will have to deal with me”, said Mandino Counselor, whom the population resorted to whenever there was a problem in the neighborhood.

Under a papaya tree, Cherubim watched his grandfather sleep on the hammock. He cried and shouted with his hands in his mouth. The boy also lashed his own legs and back with the papaya branches. No one listened. The welts multiplied. He did not care. He lay on the ground and felt a bitter taste in his mouth, a mixture of dirt and blood.

He woke up at down, lying on his old mattress, wrapped in a dirty white sheet and full of holes. Through the orifice in the roof, the sun illuminated a dog food packet flanked by a water bowl. Cherubim got up and ran to the shack entrance, where he lived with his mother and his grandfather. The hovel threatened to fall for years, but resisted.

He sat on the floor and used a piece of stick to draw Ranulph. After he was finished, he dozed a little, with his back propped up on a wooden fence with barbed wire. In his dream, he heard a purr that prickled him. He opened his eyes and under his left hand, Ranulph was marking his territory again, rubbing his dirt and soft fur on him.

The smell of garbage went unnoticed, not the hunger meowing. Crying, Cherubim held the blind and overwrought cat in his arms. He took him into the house, and there they stayed the rest of the day. The Ranulph and Cherubim story changed Paraná Village in the late 1990s: “Who does not see love in an animal, does not see love itself,” said Mandino’s son.

Written by David Arioch

October 9th, 2016 at 11:24 am

The Clement guard

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I saw his dark mustache, thick and long like the curtains of the sky

Crossing where Clement saved Beto (Photo: David Arioch)

Crossing where Clement saved Beto (Photo: David Arioch)

When I was six year old, every day there was a guard waiting for us down the street to help us cross. Hundreds of children went through there every day. Clement smiled and reached out with such devotion that even the sunlight seemed more intense, illuminating his forehead and highlighting his snowy teeth.

He took the whistle to his mouth and emitted a short, but effective oxytone sound. It was enough for everyone to stay alert. So Clement held my hand firmly and led me to the school sidewalk, protecting me from motorcycles, cars, vans and trucks. Carefully, he always kept his body closest to the vehicles while my body was hidden by him.

The synchrony between the whistle and the instantaneous stop was surreal, as if choreographed. Few drivers dared to even touch a centimeter of the tire on the crosswalk. If anyone did, Clement took a pocket tape measure, crouched on the asphalt per second, walked to the driver and greeted him with a warm handshake.

“How are you? All right? It’s hot today, huh? I suppose you’re in a hurry, of course, who isn’t nowadays, right, my friend? So I understand why you have the two front tires on the track. It happens. The hurrying makes you commit these little slips. Take a look here, you just invaded 25cm. I believe that you, like me, know it will not guarantee that you get anywhere faster. Of course, now we don’t have many children on the street, but there are times when this small space has a lack you can’t imagine. Can I count on your cooperation? “, he said in early afternoon, returning the driver’s compliance with a nod and a frugal smile.

During the crossing with Clement, I raised my head, looking at the sky with his nose, and watched him. Small, I believed he could touch that wild blue yonder with the top of his cap. I saw his dark mustache, thick and long like the curtains of the sky. The clouds moved near his head, reaffirming the idea that at least during the crossing he was the supreme authority, and beyond him there was no one.

After 5.30 pm, when the school bell was triggered, warning that the classes were ending, we did the same path. Hours passed, and Clement kept smiling and extending his hands. He never showed fatigue, irritation or boredom. He was so polite, that sometimes drivers parked their vehicles and walked up to congratulate him for the good work.

That made him one of the most remarkable characters of my childhood, someone who could serve as an inspiration for me to become a worthy human being. It was not uncommon to see people giving gifts to him. Committed to his work ethic, he always thanked with brightened eyes and refused, unless gifts made by hand, a simple food or a homemade sweet.

At that time, I had never heard of racism until I asked my classmate Bob why he and other boys never held Clement’s hand. I remember one day that I saw him taking the guard’s hand over his shoulder. “Why? Because he’s black! My father said that black guards should not exist because these people are not reliable; because the only white part of their body is their palm. Furthermore, they have a bad smell and wiry hair”, he replied spontaneously.

Startled, I was silent. During recess, without knowing what it meant, I sat in a corner of the yard and thought about Bob’s words. I realized that Clement really was a black man, the first I have seen since I was born, but so what? A few days later, Bob gave me an ultimatum, saying that I could not walk anymore with him and three other classmates if I kept holding Clement’s hand. I ignored his advice, and over the next month I was excluded from the games on the playground. When it was time to play indoor football, Bob convinced all the other kids to leave me out.

A month later, I had not seen Clement at the crossing, wich was his workplace. He never returned. In his place, they put a blond and clear-eyed boy, who devoted his attention to teenage girls who circulated the vicinity. Bob’s father had intervened, and Clement was transferred  to another city. They invented an excuse for lack of guards and convinced him to leave.

Later, on saturday, Bob was walking and sucking a popsicle when he was surprised by a runaway car that invaded the sidewalk at the crossing of Pernambuco Avenue and Souza Naves Street. Stunned, he threw the stick, closed his eyes and cringed his body. Bob didn’t see Clement coming out of the market, throwing his bags and jumping with him on the asphalt.

The guard had superficial wounds throughout his body. Seeing Bob unharmed, he smiled, regardless of the torn clothes. Embarrassed and with haggard eyes, the kid remainded in the fetal position. He discovered that the rejected hand is the one that more should have been stroked.

Written by David Arioch

October 2nd, 2016 at 5:11 pm

A short christmas story

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The more I walked inside the shop, the more I felt like walking through Nell Trent’s grandfather’s antique shop


I walked to the back of the shop and showed her an old small brown wooden chest (Photo: David Arioch)

It happened in my town when I was 14 years old. As I walked down the street on Christmas Eve, the rain was thin on the busy downtown. I looked at the turbid sky and didn’t understand how the water that touched my body could be warm while it dampened my head in a solemn short cold interval.

I was intrigued and I saw a purpose. The drops that crashed against my scalp and my forehead, dripping between my eyes, sliding down my nose, and making the contours of my mouth before jumping from my chin to my chest, reduced my drowsiness and sent me warning signs, it demanded my attention where I walked.

Until then, I walked like a peculiar kind of incorrigible sleepwalker. I had slept less than five hours and I felt my eyes warm, tired and flushed. My reflection in the shop window revealed a tangled and abstract aspect. I heard acute, mild, severe and oscillating voices on all sides, but I couldn’t identify words. “Are they really speaking English?” This question protruded from my consciousness.

Mixed with rain, sometimes violent, sometimes calm, falling from the branches of trees that shaded the narrow sidewalk, the unexpected smell of wet earth in Mine Street inebriated me. The fairy lights colored the drops that returned to natural transparency when it released from its plastic and glass hosts. The truth is that I noticed just what glittered or amplified my senses.

People talked to me. I didn’t know who they were or what they said. Confused, I limited myself to smile as much as possible, without showing too many teeth. I felt very tired and my bleary eyes didn’t help me deal properly with human interaction that morning.

After a long walk, I scratched my eyes and stopped in front of a mirror of an antique shop. “Hmm, now I’m getting better. Soon I’ll feel 100%”, I concluded. A nice lady invited me to visit the place. The entrance was narrow, but the interior space was big and seemed so inviting and mysterious, that I had a sudden urge to spend hours there.

Fragrances of cloves, vanilla, amber, sandalwood and musk, distributed in various antiquarian points, leading the visitor to feel like part of a divided reality into fragments, with perfumes that enriched objects, the shop owner asked if I would like to see something special. I said no, and she left me at ease. Previously, she told me that she devoted many years of her life buying and collecting objects from 1910 to 1970.

“My father passed away over 30 years ago. He was a collector of things that people considered obsolete or of little value. ‘How something that marked a period and demanded days and even months of effort, may someday be seen as insignificant? There is nothing in the world that deserves such depreciation”, he told this to Martha, the owner of the antique shop before leaving to meet a client who was looking for a music box.

The more I walked inside the shop, the more I felt like walking through Nell Trent’s grandfather’s antique shop, immortalized by Charles Dickens. For a moment, it also reminded me of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” by Frank Capra. Well, in my case and at that time, happiness could be purchased.  However, the reality was a destroyers desire. I opened my grizzly and battered wallet, counted the notes and coins which bobbed into my pocket, and I quickly made sure that nothing there fit in my budget.

The sadness hit me hard. It made me perspire, moistening my hands and the few notes of low value that I looked crestfallen. The coins have lost their luster, as if they were powerless, destroyed by circumstance. By far, Martha noticed the moment I quickly cringed to put money in my pocket and left the antiquarian.

She interrupted me and asked if I appreciated anything. I said yes. “Ok, then why won’t you take anything?” I hesitated for a few seconds. I felt trapped, like a helpless animal. Seeing in her face a comforting expression of benevolence, I just told her that I didn’t have money to buy anything in her shop.

“Why not? How much do you have?” Reluctantly, my hands were shaking when I took the notes and coins from my pocket. Marta smiled and asked me to show her which object pleased me most.

I walked to the back of the shop and showed her an old small brown wooden chest that cost more than double of my savings. “Who will you give it to? It’s a nice Christmas present! You have good taste!”, commented Martha, making me blush. I explained that it would be for my mother. Then she asked if there was something in my pocket. I took a piece of white paper that carried a little poem of mine called “Faience Child”.

Martha read it carefully, smiled and, to my surprise, declared that “my work” covered the rest of the amount. Before leaving, she asked me to autograph the poem and to help her put it in a golden frame of baroque inspiration . “Now we have a valuable framework,” she emphasized.

We said goodbye and she accompanied me to the shop’s entrance, where I saw her smiling graciously until the time that I disappeared from her sight. Excited, I walked through Vargas Street and I returned home watching the sun clearing the cloudy morning, drying the asphalt and illuminating the scene, vehicles, people and animals which were covered by the same warm and lilting mantle.

The following month, I took my mother to the antiquarian. When we got there, there was nothing, only a rent board. “A glimpse of passing faces caught by the light of a street-lamp or a shop window is often better for my purpose than their full revelation in the daylight”, wrote Charles Dickens in “The Old Curiosity Shop”.

Dio, the discovery of the little hawk      

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I was surprised to see in the yard a small hawk perched on the branch of a brazilian grape tree


The little one loved living at home, going through every space he pleased or instigated his curiosity

I was eight or nine years old. I got home and I was surprised to see in the yard a small hawk perched on the branch of a brazilian grape tree. He was so young and my mother found him injured near a vacant lot. She took care of him and soon he recovered, but he didn’t want to leave.

The little one loved living at home, going through every space he pleased or instigated his curiosity. His plumbeous feathers contrasted with the clear sky on hot days. I said he was the lord of the rain because his plumes were gray as the misty sky. Whenever someone asked me why Diodon had orange feathers next to the right foot, I repeated the same story I made up:

“In a day of little clarity, he flew so high that the sun got angry and suddenly appeared just burning a small portion of his plumes. The shock was so big that even his blue eyes changed color – an endless memory of his stubbornness.”

Dio was quiet and silent, but he didn’t like to interact with other animals. He only watched them from a distance, as if from the branch where he rested, he observed the vassals of his kingdom. He had an inquiring look and at the same time simple and pure. He couldn’t hunt, so the responsibility fell on us to feed him with ground meat plus calcium carbonate powder.

The first time he went up on my finger, I felt a tickle. When I started to laugh, Dio opened his beak and screeched. I had the impression that he wanted to answer my laughter in his own way. As Diodon grew, my fingers became insufficient to safeguard him, and he decided to nest in my arm and shoulder, especially around the neck, where he learned to poke me subtly with his claws. Over my shoulder, Dio always called the attention of onlookers in the center of the town.

From time to time, he opened his wings like a fan, reaffirming its grandiosity. His popped eyes gave me the impression that his painstaking vision contemplated all around him, like his hearing. Nothing went unnoticed, not even a solitary leaf swept by the breeze into a manhole.

Occasionally, he cowered in the presence of strangers, hiding part of his body behind me. I was tickled and laughed when his grizzly beak poked my head. Then he moved his feet to the left, to touch my deltoid, and watched me carefully, since ignoring the visits that he regarded as intrusion. Despite the estrangement that lasted months, he no longer saw the poodles Happy and Chemmy as threats. By analyzing them, his behavior has changed considerably. I remember when I caught the fond Chemmy licking Diodon’s feathers. Silently, the little hawk was aiming the nozzle towards the indigo sky in contemplation.

At late afternoon, after the restless Happy came to lick his beak, Dio wasn’t positioned to peck the dog’s nose as usual. The truth is that he didn’t care. The little hawk may not have noticed what happened and continued admiring the celestial vastness, abstracted from the earth and released to the heavens where he floated under soft dreams as his feathers.

Happy thought that Diodon’s passivity was strange, and examined with exultant and ensnared expression. The poodles retreated when the little hawk flapped his wings and walked toward the brazilian grape tree in the backyard. Climbing from branch to branch, he reached the top and hesitated for nearly a minute before he jumped with open wings.

During the flight, Dio squealed with excitement that caught the attention of neighbors and strangers who passed through Arthur Bernard Street. He was happy and even the most inattentive person realized it. It was as if the cloudless sky gained a new owner, a young animal which discovered that the breath of life also exists in the concession.

Every day in the afternoon he flew at the same time. I was finding it curious and I started to time the duration of his flights. One, two, three, four hours. Each week that passed I noticed that Diodon spent less time at home. That’s when I realized that his home was no longer a place, but a space where his wings bobbed with the purity of a winged horse.

The last time I met him at home, he gently pecked my head. His feathers were more vibrant as well as their glittering eyes of citrine that conveyed me cunning and conviction. Diodon was no longer the small hawk who came home wounded, malnourished and with few feathers. Although he didn’t like hugs, he allowed me to involve him quickly between my arms, without even pointing his long, sharp claws. I let him, and he played the same way he winched the first time that he came up on my finger. Within minutes, Dio left and never returned.We didn’t try to seek him because there is nothing to find when the departure is motivated by the untimely desire to fly.

Written by David Arioch

September 25th, 2016 at 3:21 pm