David Arioch – Jornalismo Cultural

Jornalismo Cultural

Archive for the ‘Redemption’ tag

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.

The piglet from the showcase

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The truth is that no one cared about his presence until the glass began to vibrate


“Oh my God! What is that? A live pig! Disgusting! How awful! What a joke! Lord, have mercy!” (Photo: Copy)

One day, the butcher shop queue seemed endless, extending to the far white wall, where the exhibitors showed up with hundreds of cereal boxes. And more and more people were buying huge amounts of meat.

“Give me twenty kilos of lamb!”, “I want ten kilos of pork ribs!” “Oh! And seven kilos of tuscan sausage!” “No! I asked fifteen kilos of termites!” “Yes! That’s it! Eighteen kilos of palette!”

Ground beef, chicken wings and drumsticks, topside, rump steak, skirt steak and bacon. The demand was so big that one of the butchers had to see if there was enough meat to satisfy all those people. Some customers became despaired with the possibility of missing one or another cut. “For the love of God! If I don’t get a good piece of steak, I don’t know what to do. This will be the end of the holiday for my family”, complained a man pushing a cart full of frozen and chilled meat trays.

While some people gnashed their teeth and others gnawed on their nails, the most discreet individuals subtly kicked the wheels of the cart and waited for the butcher’s response, who was given the most important task of the day. “I want steak, mother! I want bacon, mother!”, shouted a crying kid under eight years old. The little meatlover opened his big mouth to complain, and it was not hard to see meat lint between his teeth.

The tension increased as the butcher did not return. I noticed shaking hands, people scratching their bodies, as if taken by itching. With uneasy glances, expressions of dismay, anger and disapproval, swelled the bulwark of unrest. When the butcher returned, he nodded and smiled, and the crowd of customers applauded.

Quickly the voices and applause were drowned out by the sound of butcher saws slicing colossal rib pieces. No one cared about the mist of bone sharps falling over their heads. Thus the algid and assorted smell of flesh, a piglet was kept in the showcase.

With an apple in his mouth, he was ignored. The truth is that no one cared about his presence until the glass began to vibrate. The customers looked at each other and saw no hand or human leg touching the showcase. And inside, the piglet was trying to break the glass with an apple in his mouth. He made an extraordinary effort to get rid of the fruit. Then he grunted more than ever. Frightened, adults screamed and children cried. But no one was more thrilled than the pig who slipped on his tears.

“Oh my God! What is that? A live pig! Disgusting! How awful! What a joke! Lord, have mercy! This is so evil! What is this world coming to?”, they said. The image of the live piglet made customers leave the butcher’s queue, and if not for horror, at least for embarrassment. The exception was the man who was in line to buy fillet steak:

– What do you want, sir?

– I want the pig.

– But, sir, he’s still alive!

– This is how I want it.

– I will see what I can do.

– Well?

– It’s all right! You can take the piglet. You can pay for it over there, with the cashier.

– Alright! Thank you, my friend.

On that day, the last store customer abandoned the cart which carried many chilled and frozen meat trays. With the piglet in his arms, he crossed the market and ignored dozens of looks. At the register, he paid for something that he didn’t consider as one more product and walked to the exit as if carrying a baby. Outside, the night did not seem dark and cold. Then, the piglet from the showcase put his nose on the man’s shoulder and did not cry, just dozed.

Tony the cowboy

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The man will wake up when the sky falls down on the ground. And we’ll all graze by pleasure of smelling the grass around


Outside, Tony whistled and Atalante appeared, a 15 year old robust black horse (Art: Amanda Kate)

Tony opened his eyes, sat on the bed and watched the billowy and reddish sky through the window on the Sunday morning. He was surprised by the silence of the rooster, but did not care. He got up and walked toward the sink in the corner of the room. He washed his face, moistened his hair, fixed his beard with his fingertips, and kept his hair down while the water was flowing. “I think that this day doesn’t want to show up. The sun seems to be a stubborn. Who is to blame? I have no clue!”, he said scratching his muscular chest.

Tony wore jeans and a blue shirt. He polished the sparkling bucket bringing the T letter highlighted and put on a pair of high boots. Before leaving for work, Tony straightened the hat on his head, prepared the coffee, looked for a mug, and wiped his beard with the back of his hand. “Now I’m ready”, he said smiling, slapping soles on the parquet floor and seeing his reflection in the mirror hanging on a nail.

Outside, Tony whistled and Atalante appeared, a 15 year old robust black horse. He prepared the saddle, climbed onto the animal’s back, and rode toward the meadow. In the early hours of the morning, without blowing his horn and getting assistance, the young mestizo of caucasian and kaiowá origin brought together more than a thousand oxen. He started to sing “Cabirúchichi”, a song that talks about the renewal of human love for animals after 30 days of tempests and thunderstorms.

– The man will wake up when the sky falls down on the ground. And we’ll all graze by pleasure of smelling the grass around. Today is the day, my friends!

The cattle understood Tony’s words.  Whenever he finished his song and his speech, they watched with attention and complacency. And the silence of seconds was overshadowed by a skyward bellowing chorus. The oxen’s reaction vibrated the meadow and shook the grass. That was the cowboy’s life for over 10 years, and lately his way to treat animals began to cause estrangement with his workmates. During the traditional crossing of the Saint Lucy Stream, he comforted the cattle as a psychologist or psychiatrist attending to a patient.

– Don’t be sad, Ruffian. You can! Look at you, man! Handsome and so strong. See how many of your friends are waiting for you to cross the stream. They respect you and follow you. Come on! Trust me. Please!

Hesitantly, and keeping the hooves on the bank of the creek, Ruffian attended to the Tony’s request. The crossing of Saint Lucy always frightened the cattle because it was part of the final route before confinement, followed by slaughter. They felt that the worst was to come. Across the creek, the cattle grazed plaintively, as if following a funeral procession. Tony tried to cheer them in vain. No ox wanted to see nothing, but the burnt grass and footsteps of his brothers who never returned.

Across the creek, cattle grazed plaintive, like following a funeral procession. Tony tried to cheer them in vain. None of the oxen wanted to see anyting beyond the burnt grass and footsteps of his brothers who never returned. Some of the animals supported their heads on their closest companions, believing that this would protect them and keep them away from death. Tired, they mooed softly until it disappeared into the sunny horizon and never were seen in that prairie.

One week later, Tony jumped into the Guararema Creek to save a baby calf, Ruffian’s son, dragged by the current. When he came out of the water with the trembling and moaning baby calf in his arms, he noticed three men waiting for him, sittting on the grass and smoking haystack. One of them, Cambuci, the eldest, stopped drilling the ground with a dark knife’s blade and said:

– We see that you’re different now, Tony. You stopped eating meat and eggs, and drinking milk. And began to treat animals like people. So far so good! I have nothing to do with your foolishness. Now what you did was too much. The boss heard everything and said this isn’t right. You betrayed his trust and need to pay.

Tony put the baby calf on the grass, patted his back and the animal ran away.

– Do what you have to do, but you should know that tomorrow’s world will not be the same as today, regardless of your will or the boss’s will. The land bleeds with the animals. You will say you never noticed? Look what it turned into here. This burned field, punished for more than 100 days of drought.

As he spoke, he received five bullets in the chest and lay on the creek’s bank. Without replicating, the three gunmen disguised as cowboys turned and left. Tony did not cry, scream or moan. He noted the sky more clearly than ever and felt a small amount of water caressing his ears and massaging his hair. Also, he saw the Ruffian’s son struggling to push his body out of the water with his head.

The baby calf groaned and made an extraordinary effort. Suddenly, a long stream of blood flowed from Tony’s mouth and mixed with water, following the stream as if it had life. “Follow the blood, follow the blood, follow the blood …” he repeated before he passed away. The baby calf was carried away by the Guararema and went with the flow, being dragged for miles.

Dazed and weakened, he was held by a sandbar. There, he lay crying. Within minutes, the baby calf heard a bellowing beyond the hose. It was his father, Ruffian, restless, trying to cross the fence. Surprised and thrilled, Mirela, Tony’s girlfriend, approached and asked two young men to carry the calf. Baptized as Obajara, that was the first day of the young survivor in the underground Sanctuary, Parassú, where Tony sent hundreds of animals in recent months.

Written by David Arioch

December 7th, 2016 at 11:36 pm