David Arioch – Jornalismo Cultural

Jornalismo Cultural

Archive for the ‘Remembrance’ tag

Children of the White Gold Cinema

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I saw the tears streaming down his face, wetting his plaid shirt buttoned up at the point of his neck

The White Gold Cinema, one of the great entertainment points of the population of Paranavaí (Archive: Osvaldo Del Grossi)

I am not part of a generation that has the strongest and clearest memories of the White Gold Cinema, one of the great entertainment points of the population of Paranavaí, in the Northwest of Paraná, until 1993. When the cinema was closed, I was still a child. Despite this, I went to the Gold Cinema for a few years of my childhood, and I have fond memories of that time.

My first time at the movies was a session of “The Bumbling Heroes – An Adventure in the Jungle”, on a weekend in 1988. By then, the biggest screen I had seen was the 21-inch TV, covered by a box of varnished wood, which was in the living room. Even so, I was happy watching cartoons on it.

As soon as my brother, my mother and I arrived in front of the White Gold Cinema, in Manoel Ribas Street, in the downtown, I paid attention to the people lined around the box office. Tiny, I watched everything in the proportionality of my stature. I saw more shoes, legs and belts than faces. Except, of course, when people were as little as I was.

Before we got inside the cinema, I walked slowly and backwards along the sidewalk, trying to observe the height of the White Gold’s building, but it was impossible for me. So, I thought that was the biggest movie theater in the world. Who knows, maybe it crossed the skies and had direct contact with the paradise they talked about in school.

The gentle popcorn seller smiled at me, noticing through my large, cylindrical black eyes that it was my movie debut. “Is it your fist time?” You’ll like it and you’ll want to come back many times”, he said, straightening a small amount of sweet pop corn, preventing it from mixing with the salty one.

Warm and smelling, the popcorn popped into the cart. For a moment, I believed, in my boyish illusion, that maybe the popcorn had a life, and wants to go to the movies to watch “The Bumbling Heroes”. By my side, prevailed a sweet aroma that pacified the most bewildering children – yes, it was an effective white-hot soothing odor.

It reminded me of the airy red tabebuia tree, that I saw every day near my house, when I pointed with my finger and shouted: “Look that sweet popcorn tree!” On the other side of the popcorn cart, the smell of popcorn changed, as well as the public. The adults, especially the men, approached and asked: “Give me the salty one, please!”

Skilled, the popcorn seller knew the exact amount of popcorn to fill every bag. I watched his grooved hands glittering in front of the small yellow lamp that glowed and gilded his wrinkled face. It was that way, whenever he leaned in or steeled himself. That was his spectacle, and at the entrance of the White Gold Cinema, nobody was more important than the popcorn seller.

On that day, before we went to the cinema, five shoeshine boys, aged between 6 and 14, approached. They leaned against a wall next to the White Gold Cinema and, as the ragamuffins boys from Buñuel’s “The Young and the Damned”, started smoking, watching families getting out of cars and crossing the sidewalk.

“If I had a father or a mother I would not be in this life, brother! Being poor and alone is not easy. No, sir! Look how much luxury those kids have”, said one of the four boys to his friends. Without a word, they just shook their heads in agreement, crushing little butts with their little feet.

Dirty, with grimy nails and the nauseating smell of cheap cigarettes, a shoeshine boy no more than 12 years old lead a group of kids. As someone hesitant about entering or leaving, he folded his arms and raised his face as one of the entrance lights highlighted his dubious expression of satisfaction

“Guys, listen up! Quickly! This movie ‘Bumbling Heroes’ is very good. There’s only one bad thing. Mussum and Zechariah die at the end. Thanks! Bye! “He shouted and ran laughing, while his dark and curly hair was fluttering. At that moment, he became an antagonist worthy of the villain Scar.

The boy dragged his shabby slippers and, with his companions, went down to Pará Street. Some children did not care about the revelation, but others were so angry that they wanted their parents to call the police or do something about it. For good, no one pursued them.

Inside the Gold White, I was stunned by the out of sight seats. “There are one thousand five hundred seats here. Look up there, it’s like an opera”, my mother told us, watching our reactions. Unhurried, we spun around the mastodontic room, trying to see all the details.

Luckily, there were vacant seats in the front row. Then, we walked there, crossing hallways and listening to the sounds of spectators eating popcorn, talking, making fun of someone and hugging each other. Near us, the usher accompanied everything with its indefectible aura of firefly. He felt like the leader of a coliseum where nothing would happen without his permission, especially when the lights went out.

As soon as I sat down, I observed a boy in mended clothes sitting next to me, accompanied by his mother. His name was Juscelino, and he was a year or two older than me. It was also his first time at the movies. I noticed his anxiety because his small feet kept swinging, as did mine.

His trembling hands sweated so much that every time he wiped them on the sides of his plaid pants. Juscelino was talking to me, keeping his face toward the disproportionate projection screen. I thought he was excited because of the movie, until I noticed something different in his eyes, a crystal clarity like I’ve never seen before. Naturally, the mother revealed that her son was born blind.

Juscelino could not see anything. Still, his excitement at White Gold Cinema surpassed even mine. The sounds and smells that came to him were like immaterial gifts, memorials. With a rare auditory and olfactory acuity, Juscelino could even see what people were doing or eating in the furthest seats- and he liked to discuss everything with me.

Son of peasants from Alto Paraná, he arrived in Paranavaí by bus in the morning, and stayed waiting for hours for the ticket office to open. His father could not participate in the big event, because the savings just barely covered the expenses of his wife and child. “It’s going to start, mom!” Said the little boy seconds before the projector started showing the movie, as if he had a gift for omens.

From beginning to end, Juscelino was completely silent, trying to absorb as much sound information as possible. Occasionally, he moved about the chair without making a sound, worried about bothering people. Juscelino, my brother and I were united by an experience that would never be repeated. Our greatest discoveries were visual, and those of Juscelino were auditory. Perhaps even richer than ours, as he put himself in the position of creator by putting forth to the creativity of everything he heard.

Still in the dark, I saw the tears streaming down his face, wetting his plaid shirt buttoned up at the point of his neck. At the end, with the return of the lights, I asked him what it was like to watch a movie at the cinema without being able to see. My mother scolded me, but Juscelino’s mother did not mind the question.

“I can not explain it right, but I see, yes, I just do not see with my eyes. I see everything I carry inside me”, he justified before taking hold of his mother’s hand and walking in short steps toward the exit. The artificial lighting contrasted and harmonized with the compliant light of the newly arrived portentous moon.

On the corner, at the intersection between Pará and Manoel Ribas Street, the five shoeshine boys, children living as adults, drummed their boxes. They were seated on the curb, immersed in false smiles and sullen stares, trying to exist for a world that scarcely recognized their true intentions.

Returning home on foot, we crossed the street. As we passed them, the same boy, who caused the commotion at the entrance to the cinema, pulled me by the arm and, with an implied look, asked “Hey, my friend. Can you tell us the story of the movie you saw there at the cinema?”


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Written by David Arioch

March 30th, 2017 at 1:28 am

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 boy who killed pigs

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“I really do!”, confirmed the boy, laughing and listening to my grandfather’s nephew (Photo: Copy)

When I was eight years old, we traveled to Batayporã, in Mato Grosso do Sul. There, I met other relatives of my grandfather. But on that trip, only one person caught my attention – a third cousin. He was seven years old and had reddish eyes.

On the farm, I saw him from afar, expelling some of the animals that circled the main house. They told me that he had killed pigs since he was five years old, and that he liked to eviscerate them with a dagger guarded for generations. “I really do!”, confirmed the boy, laughing and listening to my grandfather’s nephew.

Walking on the farm, I avoided being alone, and always looked around me, trying to find out if the red-eyed boy was around. I had never seen or heard of anyone who had killed a pig.

As the afternoon fell, and the sun rose low and reddish on the horizon, as well as the boy’s eyes, I learned that my parents intended to spend the night at the farm. I approached my mother and questioned her, trying to assure our departure:

“I don’t want to sleep here. If that boy kills pigs, animals that don’t do anything to him, who guarantees that he is not able to do the same with me at dawn?”

Written by David Arioch

December 19th, 2016 at 11:11 am

A deep relationship with cinema

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The Kid, American silent film comedy-drama, released in 1921 (Photo: Copy)

I have had a deep relationship with cinemas since my earliest years. When I was five years old, I was in front of the TV, next to my father. It was one of those TVs with a wooden box. I was mesmerized watching a child running and throwing stones at a windowpane, accompanied by a man with a mustache. “That was The Tramp”, my father said.

Then, I asked him: “Why is he throwing stones at the glass? The woman in the house is going to be sad. Will she have money to buy another glass? “My dad just kept laughing and told me to pay attention to the characters’ motivation and the scenario.

That’s when I understood why silent movies were silent, and why the aesthetics make so much difference, especially in art film. He was not mute only because of technological limitations, but because he instilled in the human being the ability to seek answers that could not be given in words. Children of my age loved kid movies and cartoons, me too. But not only that. I loved the films of Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

In front of them, the absence of dialogues did not exist in my noisy child mind. The sounds swirled inside me. The movies had no color, perhaps, for others, not for me who always saw light in the sky, on the ground, and even in the darkness of the characters. “There’s no color there, let’s watch Dungeons and Dragons,” my friend Fabiano said one day. I answered: “Yes, it does! But it only exists if you want it to exist. “That day we slept after watching “City Lights”, twice.

Written by David Arioch

December 19th, 2016 at 11:08 am

The goat of the mango tree

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It was as if she tried to throw her essence beyond a shaky and noisy abyss

It was as if she tried to throw her essence beyond a shaky and noisy abyss (Photo: Copy)

It was as if she tried to throw her essence beyond a shaky and noisy abyss (Photo: Copy)

I was eight years old. Henry and Rick came to call me on a Saturday to go to their house to play with a “different” animal. My mother allowed me to go, and we went down the street. Arriving there, I saw a goat, and she was so white and portentous that simply the fact that it exists seemed to be enough to convey the most enjoyable serenity.

She remained silent tied to a mango tree in the backyard, and since the first time I saw her, I noticed her melancholic tiny eyes. Some parts of her body had a lot of scars; the goat might have been hurt in escape attempts. While I was drawing my own conclusions, she got tired of standing and sat down on a portion of dried leaves, ignoring the rotting mangos messing up her fur.

Her head was moving slowly from side to side. At the same time, seven or eight people were shouting, laughing and talking. Dogs and cats were running around the yard. It was like a joke without time to finish. For fear of being scolded, I stayed in a corner watching the goat whom I called Angel – without telling anyone.

Henry’s father didn’t take his eyes off her. Between sips of beer, he approached the goat. And she remained indifferent to everything, didn’t react to subtle slaps she received, accompanied by a smile and a cliché phrase: “It’s toooodaay! Yeah!” I didn’t understand what he meant and I kept silent. When I coughed, Angel perceived I was sitting on the floor’s porch, resting my back.

In her eyes, there was an opacity that sometimes turned into a fortuitous shine. It was as if she tried to throw her essence beyond a shaky and noisy abyss. Fifteen minutes later, she closed her eyes, looked at the floor and stayed that way. I got up and walked up to her, then Henry’s father suddenly appeared and suggested that I should depart from the goat. “Go play over there, David! Don’t get near the goat!”

Sulky and startled, I went to my corner. Angel opened her eyes again. Even with dirty paws and its slightly turbid loin, in my ideas she was still the most unpolluted being in that place. I couldn’t associate Angel’s image to dirt. The countenance and everything emanating from her reinforced my opinion.

After a few minutes, a sudden breeze rustled the leaves of the mango tree. Angel rose, lifted her head skyward and felt the whiff of nature stroking her long thin beard. I had the impression of seeing her smiling while her fur swelled in their contemplative simplicity.

Once the zephyr left, the light gradually extinguished. The sun no longer shone on our heads. It was an early afternoon which seemed like an early evening. Worried, I ran to the house to help my mother to take clothes off the clothesline, believing that the rain would come soon, falling and dragging everything with rascality.

Back at Henry’s house, my legs trembled when I looked toward the mango tree. Angel had her throat cut and below it there were two buckets of blood splashing on the ground, painted red the leaves and mangos on the ground. I tried to touch her head with my hand, or at least the threads of her beard, but I was small and only could pet her legs.

I felt chills and cried when I saw her mellifluous rectangular eyes still damp. I knew she had been crying because her beard dripped transparency on my forehead. Angry, I walked to a men’s circle and asked why they killed the goat. “To eat! What a silly question!”, they responded as a chorus, making fun of my exasperation.

At night, before sleep, I knelt beside the bed, I prayed and asked God to put Angel in a good place, and do not let her wander aimlessly, because she died tragically and prematurely. In the morning, some people came to our house to offer goat’s meat, but my mom declined politely. Although angry, I didn’t say anything. Then, I was told that everyone who ate Angel’s flesh became ill.

Furthermore, four men who participated in the goat slaughter died in an accident in the same week, carrying cattle from one state to the other. Superstitious, Henry’s father never killed another animal. And I, over a month, continued with the same prayer: “God, put the friends of Henry’s father in a good place. But give priority to Angel because she died first.”

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

The tassels and the beanstalk

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Gave me the impression that they wanted to break through the roof and hit the skies


I stopped bothering them until the evening I met the tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”, by the english writer Benjamin Tabart (Art: Lindsey Bell)

One day, when I was six years old, me and my brother Douglas were at home, in the living room, flanked by colossal ornamental tassels of my mother. They were stained and so beautiful that we were around them, watching and touching: “It looks like hair corn, but much more colorful!”, I said.

The way they struggled to touch the ceiling, when the breeze invaded the living room, gave me the impression that they wanted to break through the roof and hit the skies. Their slender profiled shapes invited our tiny hands to tickle each other with their fringes. In a short time, and redder than one of the tassels, we rolled on the floor laughing, scratching our heads, faces and arms. The nudges on my ears intensified the guffaws.

The Shambles were so big that the parquet floor, freshly polished by my mother, vibrated and earned fingerprints and marks of elbows and foot soles. The truth is that the tassels served us up to play hide and seek. They suffered in our presence, and sometimes I suspected that they fluttered more by fear than by fortuitous incidence of light air.

“Here come these crazy little boys,” perhaps they thought, twitching timidly. It looked like they cowered with our arrival, as a girl committed to not be noticed. Often, when I came home from school, I threw my backpack on the bed and went to the living room. I ran around the tassels, imitating an indian warrior apprentice. Occasionally, I stuck my head between them, observing the absence of lamp’s light. I closed my eyes and I felt a chimeric and auspicious perfume.

I imagined a raging river, where I could flow like its waters, if I threw myself without fear. With the coloring pens, I made some scratches on my face. I howled with a fake voice and continued to bother the tassels until it was time to go to school. One day, I dragged the tassel to change its position and I felt a force pushing me almost to exhaustion. While people say that the tassels had no life, I was surprised to see a little water on the parquet floor, around and below the tassels.

I thought the tassels had been crying for me and I stopped bothering them until the evening I met the tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”, by the english writer Benjamin Tabart. In the evening, at home, I lay down on the bunk with swollen eyes. I digressed by the story told by teacher Agnes, and considered: “If they have no life, why do they look bigger? Strange… very strange… ”

The next day, my doubts increased exponentially when I saw that they were bigger than ever. I told my brother Douglas what happened and he also came to confirm my suspicion. The tassels were pretending they were a beanstalk.

A few minutes before lunch, came the certainty that something needed to be done. There were beans around the tassels. We smiled, we scratch our hands and looked at each other, mechanically moving the head up and down in agreement. “You mean, you can not pretend anymore? Uh-huh …”, I concluded.

The next day, while my mother and my uncle talked on the porch, my brother and I went to the living room. Before that we looked at the surroundings to make sure we would not be surprised by anyone. Douglas took out a lighter and I took another. Face to face, we nodded our heads, and lit the two – touching the tassels that burned like silent giant squib, who could not whistle.

Soon they became an incandescent nothing. The fire went up so fast that I fell back, feeling my body warm and my vision slightly blurred. Tilting my head back, I saw the ceiling glowing. The fire, alive as we had never seen, earned transfigured forms until the moment that Uncle Lu, with the help of my mother, came to prevent it from spreading.

We watched everything in our inertia. The rapid intervention did not prevent the liner from staying black. And so we earned our own mourner sky without moon or stars, just a static darkness that overshadowed the fortuitous glimmer trying to illuminate the tassels remained.

We were grounded for a long time. Nevertheless, we felt like heroes, believing that we avoided the giant people eater to ever come down the beanstalk transformed into tassels. “It would not be long until he comes. We did well”, we agreed. After a beating belt and a week without going out to play, my mother discovered the reason why we put fire in tassels.

On the day of revelation, I learned that before the fire, the vase of the tassels was replaced by another equal, but with shallow background, giving the impression that they were larger. And the water around the tassels was poured in the morning when my mother went to our bedroom with a bucket of water to clean the floor.

“The grain fell to the ground as I ran around the room with an open package of beans to answer the phone”, she told us. We listened in silence, we undersood and we acknowledged our guilt. Back to the bedroom, we smiled at each other. I threw a grain of raw beans at my brother and he did the same. It was not necessary to articulate words. “True innocence is ashamed of nothing”, said Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Written by David Arioch

October 12th, 2016 at 12:46 am

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”.