quinta-feira, 29 de outubro de 2020

A ARTE DE FAZER CAFÉ

 A ARTE DE FAZER CAFÉ- ROGEL SAMUEL

Não, não sou um mestre da arte de escrever. Mas sei com arte fazer um bom café. Não. Não se trata da arte da fuga. Nem do cravo bem temperado. Mas da arte de fazer um bom café. Que só o faz quem o ama. Que só o ama quem o bem bebe regularmente. Perfumado. Levemente perfumado. Em troca o café oferece um leve despertar, uma excitação sutil. É uma troca. E a água deve ser bem fervida. Longamente fervida. A água. Água de boa qualidade. Em Manaus antigo se importava água. Imagine: Ao lado do maior rio do mundo, os milionário bebiam água francesa. Água de Vichy. O mundo das águas está lá, entre as mais belas árvores do mundo. As águas do mundo primordial. Depois de um bom café eu começo a delirar. O Parque das Águas de São Lourenço agora é de propriedade do grupo francês Perrier. Lá a água brasileira é francesa. Não consigo entender. Lá está a famosa água de Vichy. Sim. Não faço meu café com a água da torneira, mas com água mineral. É uma homenagem.

TEN: LOST


 

Ten: Lost

 

Translation by Christopher Schindler

 

     Day was breaking when the Caxinauá woman arrived there.  Large shoals of sardines were passing under the liquid surface of the river.  She got to the lake across a splendid labyrinth of channels and bayous.  Stagnant waters, gloomy, lost crossing of sealed byways, the Quati lake in the middle of marshes on the penumbra of the low water line, channels going through branches, hidden.  Beyond, the horrible Mucura slough.

     Maria Caxinauá lived right on Fedegoso Point on Cuco Beach where they said Zequinha Bataillon had disappeared.  She would not leave that place since the disappearance of the boss's son.  They said she was expecting him to return.

     At that time Manixi plantation was in distress, unproductive.  Ferreira himself had not appeared there for two years and the headquarters, since the death of Captain João Beleza, was under the command of a certain Ribamar (d'Aguirre) de Souza, a native of Patos, Pernambuco, as related in the first chapter of this narrative.

     The Caxinauá woman advanced alone among the gigantic roots.  One could say lost, quiet among the large prehistoric trees, in the marsh, among water hyacinths, caimans, clumps of tonka bean trees, under murity palms, licania trees.  Her oar cut the water without a sound; the canoe glided along in the dead side of the world.

     She arrived at a clump of arum.  She caught sight of black vultures on high.  Under the fabric of the water fish could be seen, indolent, immersed in a dreamy sleep in the spillway of the lake.

     She was in no hurry.  She took off her clothes and entered into the water, in the heavy humidity, stepping on the smooth-stoned bottom, which she recognized by the end of the submerged white stone.

     Anyone who saw her would have seen a beautiful woman.  Her face, neck and shoulders blighted, burnt – the tortured skin, burnt in the Numa's attack.  But from her breast on down she was beautiful and unharmed.

     She glanced at the shores.  Her ancestors had lived there.  She was among her own there.  The Caxinauá loved to visit that historic site.  There was no trace of the past; the forest had triumphed.

     Suddenly she sensed danger.

     She felt at once that, from inside, deep in the brush, something menacing was approaching.  She knew it was coming very quickly – there had not been any indication of anything and she got out of the water in a flash.

     But it was too late: she was seized by enormous hands, enormous arms of a monstrous being, from behind, and she could smell the aroma of tonka bean and the strong warmth of that body; she knew immediately who it was, that she would be another one of the Paxiuba the Mules' victims.  She summed up the situation: one of the Mule's arms could break her neck, she was starting to suffocate, she understood his insurmountable, savage animal strength.  She remained motionless.  She let herself be lifted.  She knew what he wanted.  The monster's body trembled with pleasure, it was hot, desire grazed along the back side of the Indian woman, heaving like a dog.

     She saw that he would not leave her alive.  She knew she would get her revenge if she escaped alive.  But Paxiuba now tried other means, he tumbled over with her on the grass and, strangely, he took his pleasure, right there, howling while finishing himself off like a furious bull, sparing her.

      After he disappeared, as mysteriously as he had appeared, she fell into the water to wash off that venomous sticky fluid. 

    

 

domingo, 25 de outubro de 2020

A COMPLETA REALIZAÇÃO


 



A completa realização de P'ang Yün

Rogel Samuel


Primeiramente o texto tece o tempo. Não existe. O passado não existe, é passado. Não tente lembrar o passado. Deixo-o onde está. Onde (não) está.
O presente não é tangível. Passa rápido. Ao tocá-lo já é outro, já não é.
Quanto ao futuro... que futuro? Qual futuro? Ainda nada sabemos dele. Não é pensável, antes.
Não tente julgar, não avalie as coisas que vierem aos olhos: não existe ordem a ser mantida nem sujeira a ser limpa.
O dharma não tem vida (nem não vida).
A realização está completa.
Assim é o poema:

“A realização última

P'ang Yün


O passado já é passado
Não tente recuperar.

O presente não fica
Não tente tocá-lo.

Momento a momento
O futuro não veio
Não pense nisto
Antes.

Tudo que vem ao olho,
Deixe que seja
Não há nenhuma ordem
A ser mantida,
Não há nenhuma sujeira
A ser limpa.

Com a mente realmente vazia
Penetrado, o dharma
Não tem nenhuma vida.

Quando puder estar assim,
Você completou
A realização última.

P'ang Yün”.

sábado, 24 de outubro de 2020

A LUZ NEGRA DO SOM DO ÓRGÃO DO UNIVERSO - ROGEL SAMUEL

 A LUZ NEGRA DO SOM DO ÓRGÃO DO UNIVERSO - ROGEL SAMUEL

            Sim, o som grave desses monstros do universo puderam ser ouvidos. No dia 9 de setembro se dizia: “Buracos negros cantam”. No centro da galáxia de “Perseus” (o nome já indica) há um enorme buraco negro, cuja massa talvez seja 2,5 bilhões de vezes maior que a do Sol. Os “Buracos negros” possuem tal densidade, tal força de atração, que sugam a luz ao seu redor, e por isso se chamam “negros” a esses “buracos”, a essas cavidades espetaculares. Eu fico imaginando o Universo como um gigantesco órgão, emitindo um som grave, profundo, “cerca de 57 oitavas abaixo da nota dó que fica no meio do teclado dos pianos, freqüência 57 bilhões de vezes mais profunda do que os limites da audição humana, um ruído muito aquém do que o ouvido humano pode captar”. “As imagens obtidas com os dados do observatório Chandra mostram duas cavidades enormes — em forma de bolhas — com cerca de 50 mil anos luz de largura, saindo do centro do buraco negro.”
            Um ano-luz equivale a 9,45 trilhões de quilômetros. Andrew Fabian, do Instituto de Astronomia de Cambridge, na Inglaterra, disse que as ondas são causadas pelo encolhimento e aquecimento ritmado do gás cósmico, provocado pela intensa força gravitacional que mantém as galáxias aglomeradas.
            O som grave que esses monstros do universo emitem podem ser comparados aos cânticos e mantras que no budismo tibetano são entoados, no limite extremo do som baixo da garganta humana, para os chamados dharmapalas, os protetores do dharma, como os mahakalas. Pasolini usou essas músicas soturnas no seu filme com Maria Callas, a “Medeia”.
            A lenda, que  faz das práticas desses protetores um som tão grave, diz o seguinte: certos monges rezavam a um mahakala durante muito tempo e nenhum sinal de sua presença ocorria. Então eles recorreram a um mestre que lhes disse para entoarem num tom bem grave, som de leão, de dragão, e assim ocorreu. Alguns monges cantam mahakala com o som da inspiração, e não com a expiração da voz.
            Havia cerca de 100 mahakalas no mundo antigo da Índia medieval de onde tudo veio. A lenda diz que os mahakalas (ou grandes negros, daí a lembrança), existiam antes de nossa era, de nosso kalpa, ou eon. Um kalpa é o tempo em que este universo aparece (ou explode) e desaparece.
            Há muitas eras atrás, havia um poderoso demônio que matava e comia os seres humanos de sua época e punhas suas cabeças num colar de cabeças decepadas com que se enfeitava. Os budas se compadeceram dos seres e se reuniram para ver o que podiam fazer. Resolveram destruir o demônio.
            Depois disso, viram que ele iria renascer ainda mais furioso por isso. Assim, resolveram pacificá-lo. Assim nasce a lenda de um dos mahakalas que protegem até hoje os praticantes nyngmas do budismo tibetano.
            É possível ouvir esses cânticos em CD e até pela Internet. São soturnos e belos, entoados por monges nos mosteiros. Os melhores são os do mosteiro Gyuto, do Dalai Lama.

 Sim, o som grave que esses monstros do universo emitem puderam ser ouvidos.


sexta-feira, 23 de outubro de 2020

ME ESCREVO - ROGEL SAMUEL


 ME ESCREVO - ROGEL SAMUEL

                  Não sei há quanto tempo estou neste Boing. Perdi-me no tempo. Não sei, também, onde estou, neste momento. Me espanta como os passageiros, ao redor, me parecem crentes. Acreditam na vida, naquilo a que estão vivendo, presos. (Eu não acredito nisto: na vida, uma ilusão, um sonho, uma fantasia). Não conheço ninguém, aqui. Talvez nunca mais os veja. (Ao contrário do que esperava, na volta reencontrei um americano no Shopping Rio-Sul: no Galeão descobrimos que a companhia americana havia perdido nossas malas, a minha e a dele; a minha foi achada num canto, a dele ficou em Chicago. Nos falamos alegremente. “Voltou hoje à noite”, me disse. Tinha comprado novas roupas. E teve de esperar dois dias pela mala, dos três ou quatro que por aqui passou. Mais tarde o revi, saindo do McDonald, onde deve ter-se encontrado em casa). Volto a olhar ao redor, nesta aeronave. Os americanos representam a si próprios. Reconheço brasileiros. Eles têm um certo modo de ser. Tentam imitar os americanos. Viajo na noite, no tempo. Todos os modos de viajar são como este. Vejo-me cansado de viajar, de ser viajante. Sinto-me estrangeiro em meu próprio país. Quando era jovem tive um apelido: “judeu errante”. (Não sou judeu, meu avô sim). Considero-me “errante”, nessa estrada sem retorno. O aeroporto de Miami tinha um exército de policiais. Eles estão mais gentis, já dizem “por favor”, “muito obrigado”. “ Qual foi a última vez que você entrou nos Estados Unidos”. Eu digo em 2000. Está errado, esqueço 2001. A policial sabe, tem meu passaporte nas mãos. “Quanto tempo ficou”, não me lembro, estou sonolento. “O que você vem fazer nos Estados Unidos?” Seria difícil explicar que eu ia para um retiro de budismo tibetano. Não acreditaria? A melhor resposta ainda é “turismo”. E não minto, turismo espiritual. Há cada vez mais brasileiros por lá. Ouve-se muita gente falando português. Esta não é para mim a melhor área americana. Eu gosto de Portland, no Oregon. Gosto de Los Angeles. Estou tonto e apático. A viagem  longa, Rio, Miami, Chicago, Newburg. Um casal indiano ao meu lado. Ela, de sári. Ele, elegantíssimo no terno inglês. Indianos têm muito ar de nobreza. Eu não consigo ler, dormir, pensar. Mas escrevo. Gosto de escrever a bordo. Gosto mais de escrever do que de ler. Escrevo na noite. Escrevo perdido no espaço. Me escrevo.


 

TEMA E VARIAÇÕES DO "LIVRO DE HORAS" DE RAINER MARIA RILKE - ROGEL SAMIUEL

Que dizem essas mãos com os pincéis que nos cabelos tens, sobre o que, com que componho teu meu amor, enquanto em silêncio observas mergulhada no teu mistério azul, na tua orla de mar, nos teus olhos insondáveis, quase apavorantes, à margem de tua pele de ouro luminoso, - sim, que dizem e transmitem meus trêmulos dedos quando te tocam o desnudo ventre, e ousam te tocar a tátil música que me aparece, como se de uma pomba flor fosse constituída, ou de mil ilhas ametistas e cristais, oh, quando teus braços de amor me pendem, me fendem, me prendem nos espaços em que te envolves e te enlaçam - e que fazem minhas mãos quando te sinto hoje nos limites dos teus ninhos e que te percorrem nos hesitantes meios, a te mover como se fosses minha? Já não estás no âmago de tudo, lá onde todos os traços de tua dança de anjos se consomem. Teu céu inteiro em mim reside e ali desaparece, e por mim passa, e eis que me calo para te pensar. Assim te tem pintado aqueles deuses maiores, trazidos pelo sol. Assim te amadurecia a fruta do mais puro calor da luz tropical. Assim era o véu dos sentimentos que não revelavas nunca, o teu surpreendente mistério. Eras a ave. Amo-te assim, de tão longes vôos, como um menino que se sabe impotente pois inacessível esperança. Eu bem sei que és a terra, a guerra, o cume, o verdejante rastro, mesmo porque te sonho onde não persistes, onde não foram lavradas as minhas palavras de ti. Uma vez alguém me viu contigo e não acreditou, não pensou, éramos nós nem imaginávamos quão felizes inseparáveis completos naquele momento. Mas não sei porque aos poucos houve essa queda, essa fresta, esta frase que voa como tivesses as mesmas asas, lá e já, na minha boca onde não reside o teu gemido meu e suspensão da voz. Que me chega. De muito longe. Saída do anteceder do horizonte ponte como grossa chuva fecundante. Úbere. De tanto te bordarem na luminosidade primavera, foi-se o dia em que hospedei as tuas claras terras, neste solo fecundo, claras messes. Mas longe hoje, fluindo o tempo, ingresso, regresso para casa sem ti, é muito escura esta minha liberdade. Não, amor, não te recomeço não te reconheço nesta figura de opala opaca, pesada, no pomo pintado que foi o alicerce obscuro e fetíchico, frustrado dos meus muros e da tua juventude solitária. O livro que contém as chaves necessárias está fechado, as histórias a todo momento se concluem, e se alteram - passastes além do fio da pedreira cega, tomastes a forma silenciosa daqueles gigantescos edifícios onde não posso entrar. Reduzistes-me ao pó dos velhos monumentos fúnebres, cegos, velhos cânticos tidos, maduros demais para te realizar, para te cantar neste tom tão romântico. Nem mais te amo ainda, que sem o mesmo amor edificante, eterno, estudado, passeaste por mim como uma epidemia consentida, e em mim pousando como aeronave, - oh mãos salgadas, mãos ensangüentadas que me dizem? Tu és um jardim cheio de vida!

A HORA MARCADA - ROGEL SAMUEL


 A HORA MARCADA

             Sim, ela escreveu um conto onde, com hora marcada, a narradora precisa matar o personagem. Na realidade, aquela é a hora marcada de sua análise, a hora do analista. A narradora está no meio da condução do enredo de sua tele-novela, e o personagem... bem, um transtorno. “Antes ele do que eu”, dizem as vozes do texto. Quem choraria a sua morte?
             Assim Leila Miccolis inicia o seu conto, e o seu livro de contos, “Achadas e perdidas”, esta obra-prima da narrativa curta, enxuta, surpresa, numa série de miniséries.
             Justificativa para matar o personagem havia várias, como na novela das oito da Globo, “Mulheres apaixonadas”: a novela andava “em fase minguante”, “vítima da calmaria”, - a inesperada morte poderia despertar o torpor do “respeitável público” – mas nada de sangue escorrendo, de perseguição e morte, qual filmes americanos, ou na novela supra, mas apenas uma mancha colorida (ou preta), como a marca de baton da amante na gravata do cianoreto do coração – este conto é um verdadeiro tratado de escrever um enredo, telenovela conto ou romance, e de como agradar em duas páginas... Leila prestidigita a narrativa com seus rápidos, irônicos comentários bem-humorados... morrer, matar de morte indolor, mas a quem? Ao Pai? Ao Macho-Poder? Ao Falo (o que decide a fala)? Ao poder do analista de decidir quanto a Cura (se é que se dá?). Matar no divã “dia da alta” do analista que a largava, mesmo ela, “não sendo anti-Salomé”, a sua cabeça estava ali, a prêmio, sim, da narradora, no sofá do analista matava a todos, e a todas, não os seus queridos personagens, mas as ”super star” vaidosas, os galãs esnobes, legiões de atores, autores, bibliotecas inteiras caíam cruelmente assassinadas pela narradora, ou melhor, por mim mesmo, o seu cúmplice Leitor que, “por razões inconfessáveis”, demitia, um a um, os seus ídolos literários no divã da leitura das duas páginas de “Hora marcada” de Leila Miccolis, cuja narradora, agora curada, pelo analista, torna-se impotente pela ética, esse poder avassalador de edítica manobra, o impasse editorial, profissional, da Ética cura, da razão, que, ou pior, aguardava sua “ordem de comando”, perguntando: “E então?”
             “Não, decididamente não posso, não matarei...”, responde o super-ego da Curada, da Justiça, a claridade da luz do dia em que o seu analista lhe deu alta, mas no meio da estrutura da novela que ainda estava no ar, e que precisava urgentemente acordar.
             O conto funciona como prefácio dos outros do livro que vem com mini-séries transformadas em deliciosos contos, e vem com  filmes, os “curtas” transliterados em meta-linguagem – Leila diverte na diversidade de sua visão da realidade e do seu ofício de escritora, também, de roteiros de tv. Que nunca tinha lido com tanto gozo a vida interna, intestina, das novelas que Leila transforma com muita arte em meta-ficção.
             Todos que estudam a técnica de criação de roteiros não devem deixar de ler este extraordinário meta-texto, povoado de narrativas e personagens femininas “ achadas e perdidas”, tais como o feminismo as vê.
             Mas a visão feminista de Leila Miccolis, entretanto, não é anti-machista, raivosa, irada, rancorosa, mas muito bem humorada e divertida de pós-modernidade (no que este termo tem de abrir caminhos próprios pela experimentação da literatura “descartável”, tal como na Internet, da escrita que não se leva a sério, mas que faz pequenas obras-primas da vacuidade, da inocuidade do cotidiano, etc).
             O livro é, neste sentido, único. Surpreendente.


quinta-feira, 22 de outubro de 2020

UNIVERSOS PARALELOS

 

UNIVERSOS PARALELOS - ROGEL SAMUEL

          O Rio de Janeiro doente, piora. Entramos no início de fase crítica, quando o choque parece inevitável. A cidade progressivamente desfalece, faveliza-se. Desde a mudança da capital para Brasília. O fechamento da Bolsa de Valores do Rio de Janeiro é um marco. Símbolo do fim. A economia é informal. O poder é “informal”. A vida é “informal”. Somos todos camelôs da vida cotidiana. Há mais favelados do que habitantes do asfalto? Quantos homens e mulheres têm aqui contra si algum processo criminal? Quem garante que esta situação não explode um dia, numa grande matança, numa geral confrontação armada? Já há uma separação, já há dois países distintos: a cidade e a favela. Um contra ou outro. O mundo da favela penetra no da classe-média através das empregadas domésticas e faxineiros, mas isso pode acabar ficando igual ao mundo Israel-Palestina. Morre-se mais no Rio do que lá? Vivemos confinados, ilhados?

          Há um poema de Cassiano Ricardo, escrito em plena Guerra-fria, que diz:

          Milhões de crianças chorando
                     na noite esférica.

Por que choram?
                                                    Não são
elas que choram

                       É o futuro.

É a vida ainda não vivida.

São crianças no escuro
           chorando por adivinhação
           do acontecer.

          Um dia, uma empregada, mulher quase tísica, trouxe a filhinha escondida, pois não tinha naquele dia com quem deixá-la.   A menina não tinha pai, as duas moravam num barraco de perigosa favela. A mãe deve ter feito graves ameaças à criança, que ficasse calada e quieta, que desaparecesse num canto, que sumisse, que se escondesse, pois eu, o bacana, o Mal, o Perigo, não a queria ali. Era uma criança muito frágil, magrinha e desnutrida, muito pequenina e bonita. A mãe já tinha perdido vários empregos por causa dela, pois ninguém gostava de ver criança estranha ameaçando quebrar os cristais da sala, mexendo em livros e discos. Acuada, ela se escondia debaixo da mesa da cozinha, no fundo de si mesma, quando inesperadamente e antes da hora eu perigosamente apareci. Cheguei e, infelizmente, fui ate a cozinha beber um gole d’água quando a descobri.
          O pavor daquele pequenino ser me assustou mais do que eu pudesse suportar. Aquilo me assusta até hoje. Eu não sabia. Não sabia. Nós nunca nos imaginamos agressivos e ameaçadores, somos sempre nós as vítimas. Ela, a pequenina, começou a chorar dolorosamente, estranhamente abandonada, como se eu fosse animal selvagem, como se “soubesse” que a mãe perdera mais aquele emprego, que a vida estava perdida e morta. A garotinha mostrava tanta dor e dramaticidade, que me contagiou até hoje.
          O pânico daquele minúsculo ser me ocorre sempre que ouço falar de tiroteio nas favelas. Onde andará ela? Amedrontada, encurralada entre forças adversas: os grandes bandidos, os grandes policiais e nós, a classe média agressiva, onde se esconderá aquela meninazinha linda de tantos inimigos, deles e de nós? Como estará sobrevivendo? De que natureza somos nós feitos, que não pudemos mudar este mundo? O que fizemos com aquele ser feito de lágrimas? Nós fizemos este mundo, a natureza desta realidade e nossa obra. As crianças da favela são:

  Criaturas
             apenas de fato
  por seus nomes
                        inscritos
  no cadastro
              eletrônico

  o sul sem
              norte

  viagem
             sem
  passaporte

           Eu nunca pensei, nunca me imaginei, nunca me senti assim, ao ver-me no espelho. No meu tempo de marxismo, falava-se de luta de classe, mas da classe dominante não se falava, e sim da burguesia, dos detentores dos meios da produção material. Será a classe média, mesmo a classe média pobre, hoje, a classe dominante? E se a favela passar a nos ver como aquela menininha me viu um dia? E se a Rocinha  descer contra o Leblon? E se nos virem com os “bacanas”, os responsáveis? E se disserem: Eles têm computador e TV a cabo, têm educação, cultura e livros, e nós não temos? Eles ouvem Wagner, Beethoven, lêem Proust e Pessoa, sabem escrever e são capazes de ler em vários idiomas? E nós? Que somos nós? Que podemos nós, que lemos nós, além de dar tiros, de assaltar, de matar, de nos asilar na favela e de enfrentar daqui nossos inimigos? E nós, que somos nós?
         Se de repente se perguntarem por suas naturezas humanas ameaçadas, desperdiçadas, infelizes? Bandido é feliz?
 Tenho amiga que, na solidão em que vive, gosta de passar horas nas salas de conversação na Internet. “Espero encontrar um namorado na Internet”, me diz sempre ela.
         Um dia encontrou o homem de sua vida. ‘Conversaram’ e fizeram as mais fervorosas juras de amor, as mais ardentes ‘carícias’ de amor que suas capacidades verbais disponibilizaram. Ele era educado, atencioso, carente.
         Duas horas depois ela pressionou o rapaz, quis saber onde ele morava, quem ele era.
         - Se eu disser você me abandonará – ele disse.
         - Por que? – perguntou ela.
         Ele emudeceu. “Diga pelo menos de onde você tecla?”, perguntou ela. “De que Bairro?” Ele respondeu: “Bangu”.
         - Não me diga que você está na Penitenciária de Segurança Máxima? – brincou ela.
         Estava.


O PIANO A TARDE

 O PIANO, A TARDE - ROGEL SAMUEL

Minha tia Maria José dispunha os frascos de perfume sobre um aparador de cor escura e tampo de mármore rosa. Os nomes insinuantes, sensuais, Tabu, Coty, Maja, poemas de amor. Ela nos recebia à tarde para servir café com brevidades. No fim de seus dias estava sempre sentada na poltrona. Não se levantava, dormia ali mesmo, o rádio ainda ligado no programa nenhum, só ruído neutro de seus sonhos de mulher solteira. Lembro-me do seu programa preferido: ' um piano ao cair da tarde' . O som não chegava em acordes completos porque o rádio era apenas um radinho RCA Victor de poucos recursos, mas ela sonhava com seus invisíveis amantes. Ao cair da tarde seu leque se misturava com o leque das cores do sol que recebia o piano, cujas valsas se alçavam no ar fino, cobriam casas e vilas. E se subíssemos pelas janelas da rua Barroso poderíamos ver os gradis da Igreja de Sta Rita e o vão escuro do que tinha sido o igarapé que anos atrás passava por ali, com suas araras e serpentes venenosas. Olhando-se um pouco mais acima estavam os pássaros tardios que partiam para o anoitecer de tudo, para noite do mundo, para o outro mundo, do outro lado do universo, no oceanos dos rios de nossos medos, signos e ansiedades. Os pássaros eram de um rendilhado fino e tinham nos seus bicos gotas de rubis reluzentes, mergulhavam no ouro do por do sol finalmente afastado. E um piano, ao cair da tarde.

segunda-feira, 12 de outubro de 2020

Nine: Frei Lothar

Nine:  Frei Lothar

 Translation by Christopher Schindler

     The seated figure, waiting for a tambaqui fish to be baked and served on a banana leaf, which would be reinforcement to his heart and stomach, was rendered sadder by the shade of the kapok tree.  It was the first substantial meal he would be eating for the two days in which he had been traveling.  Frei Lothar felt tired and reflected on his life and misfortunes like the one he had just endured.  He was still gasping, upset by the calamity.  He felt a certain obscure fragility, old age at the least, and so he knew that the appointment of his days in Amazonia was coming to the end and that now he would have to abandon everything, retire and die.  Coming by canoe through a channel of the Numa Slough, he was passing over a floating island of tea wort when the canoe tore into a kind of moving fabric, a horrible carpet in the shape of a map of Brazil formed by crackling and armed yellow scorpions, in an area of several square yards; they were advancing, one on top of the other, crossing the river in migration.  A caboclo started to shout and the canoe almost overturned.

     “Quick!”, the padre commanded.

     But already the scorpions threatened to climb on board and Frei Lothar, lighting a fire with the newspapers he was bringing to the judge in Calama, filling the barque with flames and getting burnt all over, exclaimed, “Oh, my Amazon!, God is great but the forest is greater and I am not the same.”

     Beginning to recover strength, he was waiting to depart after lunch on the Barão do Juruá, now owned by Antonio Ferreira, as was everything else there.  But Ferreira had gotten a bad deal; the price of rubber was declining more and more from what it had been a hundred years before, as the Brother had seen on the trip he made this month to the Rio Machado – rubber tappers decimated by fever, ruined by the crash, unemployed since rubber from Ceylon, without microcyclus, supplanted production in the Amazon; thousands of tappers witnessed the permanent end of the gigantic empire, in which vast fortunes made overnight disappeared and the Amazon returned to what it had been before 1850: hell entrenched in an economic crisis that lasted a half century and killed thousands.

     There were still a few places where Frei Lothar could stand to go and Manixi was one of these.  The brother had lost his faith, spoke coarsely, spit on the ground, went around armed, was cross and smelled bad.  The Rio Machado dazzled him, seduced him, its green water running over emeralds, strange country of a strange world where one only met with adventurers and Indians: the sparrow-hawks, the macaws, the bobtails, the shelf fungi, wild, savage, indomitable, hidden in the high and shady forest.  It was paradise, it was hell, and Frei Lothar loved it; he could not live without those trips, adventures in search of the unknown.  But the worst trip he made was in 1908, when Frei Lothar, in a caravan carrying rubber latex from Cruzeiro do Sul to the Cocame plantation, from the Rio Juruá to the Rio Tarauacá, crossed the Manixi plantation, crossing the Rio Gregório, the Acurauá, proceeding on a rough trail over a distance of two hundred miles.  At that time, however, Frei Lothar was young and at his hardiest.

     Not much time had passed when, with sandals sinking in the muddy clay, he was watching the loading of the barge that the Barão do Juruá would be pulling to Manaus from the Rio Jordão.  His old cassock stank, as it was soaked with sweat.  Sweat dripped upon much older sweat drenching the patches.  Under a big, old and ill-fated black umbrella, the friar looked ridiculous on the steep river bank, a strange type, exotic, on the edge, in the greatest difficulty.  The Barão do Juruá was being loaded and the friar debarked for lunch, unsteady, in need of terra firma and an escape from the heat, his feet sank in the soft mud.  He was clambering up the slippery ladder of the bank with difficulty when the first dogs appeared.  At first, there were two that came down the ladder in a fury.  Then others came and Frei Lothar eventually found himself surrounded by dogs and was using the cross of his rosary to defend himself.  The children and men were laughing – the old good-for-nothing.  Some of them owed their life to him.  But Fernando Fialho, the harbormaster, showed up suddenly and rescued him.  Fialho was busy loading jute, the new commodity of the region, on its way to Manaus.  It seemed that Frei Lothar could not board because the stevedores had taken the gangplank away and, strong and squat, they were going back and forth on it weighed down by their loads so that they were sinking into the bank.  Frei Lothar looked at the muddy water that dirtied his sandals.  Boys had gone down the ladder.  They had not even asked for his benediction.  It was said that he liked little boys, which was a lie.  The boys jumped into the turbid water near him.  Water sprayed, sparkling.  They were near to giving the missionary a bath.  Frei Lothar did not protest because he was ill, with the illness of old age, without strength, without courage, without nerves, without vitality, without spirit, without faith.  He looked upon all this with compassion, sweat and impatience.  It was truly satisfying – that splashing which refreshed him.  If he could he would have taken off his smelly cassock and happily submerge himself in the water.  All these events blended together for Frei Lothar: the scorpions, the dogs, the dousing, illness, old age, calumny.  The end.  Annihilation.  Death.  His legs trembling, Frei Lothar was on the point of fainting in the heat.  Miserable dogs!  Miserable urchins!  Miserable life!  Evening began to fall and night was approaching.  The  Barão do Juruá was going to sail, finally, empty – a blessing that Antonio Ferreira forbade it to carry passengers.   No, it was not true that the world was against him.  Just the day before he had been treated well.  Ferriera tolerated the old padre who administered medicine to people on the plantations.  The  Barão do Juruá  and everything that belonged to the Bataillon empire was the property of Antonio Ferriera.  The  Barão was going empty, the friar would travel in peace, in comfort.  He had known trips in vessels full of pigs and hammocks, stinking of excrement and putrid fish.  The padre's neck was burning with the heat, sweat was pouring and was rushing into his chest.  How easily those men lifted and loaded the heavy bales!  Oh, youth, youth!  Ah, the strength of their arms!  Frei Lothar had come from Tarauacá, which he still called Villa Seabra, had crossed on foot the arduous São Luis slough and the São Joaquim, by way of Universo, Santa Luzia, Pacujá, he came by canoe by that hidden channel.  Now, no...  He was no longer up to it.  Let him prepare to die.  But Frei Lothar did not want to die, he had spent his life fighting death.  He would end up sunk in a hammock in Manaus in the parish of Aparecida in the midst of wretched charity.  Well no, that was not certain.  He would like to die in peace or return to Europe, a dream that dissipated, as he was poor.  Forty years in the depths of this hell, forgotten, diminished, lost in the jungle.  Would he know how to live far away from this savage world?  How would he be able to get to Europe, to Strasbourg, his native city?  He had done everything that had to be done, fought off wild animals and fevers, said masses among the Indians, baptized illegitimate urchins on river banks.  What more?  Would they still want him?  As he could no longer ride horseback due to sciatica, he had to live on foot, bent over by the weight of years and arthritis – my God! - his entire life most sad, wasted, among serpents, vilified, chased by dogs … a difficult world!  And within the Church, Frei Lothar only saw the struggle for power!  He had saved the lives of thousands of men and was accused of illegitimately practicing medicine!  The families of Manaus had nothing to do with him as he had a bad reputation and bad character.  He spit on the ground and used vulgar language.  No, he received nothing in exchange, he never had money, never had a place to live, never flattered the powerful, never tolerated them, always irritated them.  After working forty years he only reaped enemies.  And the heat and mosquitos, the suffocating nights.  He had forged his way into impenetrable forests full of snakes, spiders and scorpions.  And how did they acknowledge him?  With malicious gossip, with dragging his name through the mud.  Those scoundrels could not understand his life among the Indians as other than for some sordid motive born from their sick imaginations.  No one believed that he had labored in that hell for forty years in exchange for nothing.  This ate at his soul.  There were letters from superiors with accusations, the Provincial came with rumors … Ah, let them take him from there so he would be gone forever – if they killed him they would be doing him a big favor! … He was superfluous in that world; he would certainly like to die to oblige the parish priest who detested him.  No one liked that ugly man who only wore the habit of a padre.  His rough and weary voice, his crude and strong hands, his fierce expression.  Frei Lothar hated the ruling class, hated religion and the faith; rather for him it was medicine and practice.  He did not talk of pious matters, scratched his balls, prayed unwillingly, was irreverent, laconic, frank, aggressive, gruff with the authorities, primitive and rude.  Frei Lothar was an irritated soldier in Amazonia, God's officer, armed.

     The night was quite dark when the barge was fully loaded.

     The plank was transferred to the  Barão which was already stirring and near departure.  Frei Lothar carefully climbed on board and went to his cabin where he took a bath before dinner.

 

     Then, clean and sated after his dinner, he was in a better mood.  The  Barão continued its journey in the middle of the night – risky, but as could be expected Ferreira wanted the boat in Manaus right away.  The sound of the engines did not bother him, he was resigned to it.  Frei Lothar went up towards the stern in the dark to a sort of terrace.  He was alone.  The wind began to feel good to him, that wind had a delicate scent, an atmosphere; he remained looking out at the dark night while sailing downstream between the forms of shadows.  It was as he always felt – a passenger in the world.  He never stopped, here today, gone tomorrow... He thought of the man he had been tending in Villa Seabra.  That man was about to die … What is death?  What is faith?  Many men had died in his arms and he could do nothing.  What was death?  His faith lost long ago.  Let the Provincial get angry!  What Frei Lothar saw and observed his whole life – it was not God: it was suffering, pain and death, misery and desolation.  Frei Lothar got up with effort and left to go to his cabin from which he emerged with his violin.  He sat down.  He would practice until sleep came.  It was Bach's Second Partita that he knew by heart but he never succeeded in overcoming certain difficulties.  He played without the score.  He practiced without a score, in the dark, in the fleeting wind.  Alone.  Without a score and without light, without anyone.  Oh!  It was thus in the Amazon.  The Amazon did not have a score, light or anyone.  The Amazon was an immense plain of misery.  The economic depression hovered in its monstrous silence.  The Partita came out rather well from his old, arthritic fingers.  He never had time to practice, never had the conditions, the leisure.  He traveled with his violin in ships and canoes, in channels and pools, and almost lost the violin with the scorpions: it was a valuable violin and symbolized what he had never been.  A bad padre, a bad doctor, a bad violinist.  He had never done anything well.  Nothing complete.  Now he was old, weak, having little faith, little knowledge, little technique.  “Oh, worse than death is mediocrity!”,  thought Frei Lothar; the violin moaned, litanies, recitations, reflections.  He attended the sick without resources; said masses without passion; and now played the Partitia badly.  Without remedies, without scores, without know-how.  Frei Lothar played with imagination.  The violin was a Guarnerius.  It was a present from Juca de Neves, one of the few men with whom Frei Lothar was on terms of friendship.  Actually, a Guarnerius is not an imitation.  It is a refinement of a Stradavarius and much more resonant, appropriate for concert halls and with large orchestras, whereas Strads were for suited for chamber music.  Aided by inspiration the Partita came out quite well.  The  Barão continued on in the middle of the night.  Suddenly, the friar recalled the Brahms Double Concerto – what beauty! - and he modified one of the sections of the Partita with the violin part from that other work.  All was unease and sublimity in the Double Concerto.  He imagined himself surrounded by the orchestra, remembered his dreams of becoming a musician, and not a priest; he immersed himself in the concerto, hearing the cello and the entire big orchestra.  He saw full galleries from which triumph burst forth, the applause, all that far away from the Amazon, far away from death.  He was elevated by his daydream.  Why?  Nothing was left of the old mysticism.  Why?  He played Brahms plying his way through the Amazon forest.  Night was at its height and the Amazon sky suddenly became transparent and clear, covered with stars that sparkled, and everything appeared to him as of one nature, in a whole in which he did not exist but was integrated in a totality – and Frei Lothar stopped playing, ran to the ship's rail with tears in his eyes and suddenly saw, ecstatic, immensity and eternity appearing suddenly there before him, approaching and arriving to him, wide, entering through his eyes, his ears, and everything was one Immeasurable... - and he, one with it, eternal, gave a shout and felt incomprehensibly happy.

domingo, 11 de outubro de 2020

ESCREVO MELHOR EM DÓLAR

 "Escrevo melhor em dólar"

Rogel Samuel
Lembrei-me disso depois que recebi uma "informação" para que eu escrevesse um prefácio/orelha... nem me pediu "por favor"... Um dia um poeta me pediu um prefácio, trabalhei dois dias e lhe enviei.... Ele me devolveu dizendo que aquilo não era um prefácio, mas uma "crônica"... Nunca mais escrevo para ninguém. Os diretores de Hollywood cobram só para ler um roteiro... Como dizia o Mestre Alceu, "Adeus à disponibilidade"....
Recentemente minha amiga Leila Miccolis escreveu e publicou um texto no seu blog
http://leilamiccolis.blogspot.com/
intitulado "O LUCRO DO SABER".
"Hoje recebi um e-mail de um escritor que propunha colocar à venda em Blocos um
livro seu porque o site desse autor "não tinha fins lucrativos", no dizer dele próprio",
disse Leila, e defendia a seguir a remuneração dos autores.
Ao seu texto escrevi o seguinte comentário (eu tenho a mania de escrever em maiúscula,
desculpem): O BRASIL SÓ SERÁ VISTO COMO UM PAÍS DESENVOLVIDO (E PÓS-MODERNO) QUANDO OS POETAS E ESCRITORES FOREM RESPEITADOS E REMUNERADOS COMO PRODUTORES DE CULTURA, ASSIM COMO OS CINEASTAS, OS MÚSICOS ETC. ESCREVER NÃO É UMA ATIVIDADE ESPORTIVA OU LAZER DE UMA CLASSE OCIOSA, NEM UMA ATIVIDADE DE FIM DE SEMANA, MAS O ESCRITOR QUE SE VÊ COMO TAL LEVA A SÉRIO O SEU TRABALHO E HOJE MAIS DO NUNCA PELA INTERNET ELE TEM NOVOS CANAIS DE COMUNICAÇÃO COM SEU PÚBLICO. POR ISSO LEILA MICCOLIS ACERTOU EM CHEIO NA RAIZ DO PROBLEMA: OU SEJA, A PROFISSÃO DE ESCRITOR!
ESSE DEBATE DEVE APROFUNDAR-SE, TEM DE APROFUNDAR-SE PARA LEVANTAR OS POETAS DO ESTADO ANESTÉSICO, DO TORPOR EM QUE NÓS NOS ENCONTRAMOS.
TRATA-SE DE UM PROBLEMA DE SOBREVIVÊNCIA DA NACIONALIDADE.
Sobre este tema me lembro do seguinte e curioso fato artístico, desta vez musical, narrado por
Nalen Anthoni em vídeo da EMI.
Depois da Segunda Guerra, o compositor inglês William Walton compôs um concerto para Jascha Heifetz a pedido deste. Depois, em 1956, o violoncelista Gregor Piatigorsky, um dos maiores do seu tempo, fez o mesmo pedido a Walton. Mas Piatigorsky fez o pedido através de um intermediário, o pianista Ivor Newton.
Walton respondeu: "Eu sou um compositor profissional. Escrevo não importa o quê para
qualquer um desde que me pague..." E depois de uma pausa, acrescentou: "Eu escrevo melhor quando me pagam em dólar".
Walton terminou o concerto no mesmo ano, o magnífico Concerto para Violoncelo e Orquestra, que está no vídeo, e que foi executado pela primeira vez em janeiro de 1957 por Piatigorsky com a Boston Symphony Orchestra, dirigida por Charles Munch.
Não se diz quanto o violoncelista pagou.

sexta-feira, 25 de setembro de 2020

MAIS 3 CAPÍTULOS EM INGLÊS

 Six: Julia


     At the apogee of the price of rubber, it was quoted on the London Stock Exchange at 655 pounds per ton, a speculative quote which benefited the interests of British companies in the Orient.  It was the last year of the Amazon Empire.  Subsequently, the Teatro Amazonas closed its doors opening only once two years later for Villa-Lobos to give a cello concert on June 12, 1912.  Immediately after the tragedy, the junior Bataillon arrived from Paris and received Antonio Ferreira on board: there he sold the Manixi plantation, except for the Palácio, in a transaction that was never made clear.  As he always did, José left for Hell's Bayou without setting foot in Manaus.

     Pierre's son Zequinha was a handsome young man, wild, educated, delicate, strong, Apollonian body with soft, golden tan skin, mysterious, very dark almond-shaped eyes.  His fine hair fluttered in the air.  To some, a half-Indian, to others a Parisian snob who used to go deep into the forest with Paxiúba and his men in search of adventures, like the time he forayed into the mountains of the Pique Yaco River in search of Numa, without coming across any.  He was not married and did not have a girlfriend other than Maria Caxinauá.  Paxiúba slept at his feet like a dog.  Maria bathed him.  He was born in the middle of the river in 1890, on board the Adamastor, a birth foretold by shamans as that of a god coming from a distant star named Thor.  In 1854, Visconde de Mauá barred foreign nations from sailing the Amazon and held out until his fall.  The Santa Maria de la Mar Dulce met up with the Adamastor a few months after José was born and, to save him from malaria, which was decimating the children of the area, he was taken and shipped with his mother via England to Strasbourg where he was left with his uncle Levy, with whom he lived his infant years, first on the Place Kleber No. 9, then above the Pharmacie du Dome until 1894 when he returned to Manixi.  He stayed another three years before leaving for Paris in '97 where he lived on the Boulevard Saint-Germain.  He did not return until he was 15 years of age, in 1905, shortly before the attack of the Numa, which was in the middle of November.  In 1906 he was back in Paris for his studies.

     After the massacre, Maria Caxinauá hid and stayed for some time in a thicket of brush near the Palácio, totally alone.  She thought of dying and did not want to be seen anymore.  Pierre had about five hundred men in the vicinity, hunters, foresters, rubber tappers, balata gatherers, freelance tappers, escorts, field workers, fishermen, laborers, servants, housemaids.  No one.  No one saw her.  To be invisible when one wants to be is the same as being invisible.  How we were easy targets of hurled snakes, arrows, darts and blowguns.  The blowgun discharges a very small and fast dart into the air and is very precise and lethal; it is poisoned with a type of curare made with uirari vine and venom from snakes, flies, spiders and scorpions mixed together in a kind of ritual.  It paralyzes the nervous system and kills by asphyxiation.  Some Indians use snakes as weapons.  A certain Othoniel das Neves, from Juruá, famous for his cruelty and murders, died bitten by a rattlesnake found under his pillow.  Painted with special herbs, the Indians elude the best hunting dogs.  In the Numa massacre only charred bodies were found.  Almost dead, Maria had to be taken quickly to Manaus by Frei Lothar and Zequinha.  It was the worst war in the region up to then.  After that, Pierre Bataillon, who liked witty expressions, and to lift the morale of his troops who were beginning to respect and fear the strength of the Numa warriors' resistance, in spite of the difference in weapons they were using, came to call the Indians “ new Ajuricabas”, a reference to the hero of the Manau who in 1723 confronted and defeated the soldiers of the Portuguese crown under the command of Manuel Braga.

     “Now we're declaring war on the “Ajuricabas”, he said to João Beleza, a hired assassin and perverse and cruel bandit who was his war commander.

     Ajuricaba lived on the Hiiaá river, at the left bank of the Rio Negro between the Padauari and the Aujurá in the district of Lamalonga.  When he went to rescue his son, he fell into an ambush and was taken prisoner by the Crown in 1729, which wanted him taken alive to torture him with punishment and death.  On the way Ajuricaba got loose from the clasp which was fastening him and with manacled hands and feet started killing Portuguese soldiers before suddenly hurling himself into the dark waters of the Rio Negro which condemned him.  Because of that the waters of this river are sterile, there are hardly any fish in them.  But soon after, Belchior Mendes de Moraes went on a shooting rampage of 300 Indian villages, in a sacrificial killing of twenty-eight thousand Indians on the shores of a river which came to be known as the Rio Urubu.  Artillerymen under the command of a priest with a pious name – Father José dos Inocentes, later the name of a street in the red-light district of Manaus – dispersed contaminated clothing that disseminated an epidemic that devastated forty thousand Indians with smallpox, an infectious, contagious disease whose virulence rots the body still alive with eruptions of pus and rachialgia, papules, pustules, blindness and the agony of a slow bacteriological death; the corpses are devoured by flies, gnats, giant mosquitos, matuca flies, beetles, rove beetles, horseflies, catuqui gnats, wasps, suvelas, venomous beetles and mainly ants.  Man-eating umbrella ants can devour a cadaver in twenty minutes.  On the construction of the Madeira-Mamoré railroad in 1908, corpses were spread out on the road to be buried (30,430 workmen interned in the Candelaria Hospital) and when the locomotive returned there were only dry bones, cleaned and eaten by umbrella ants.  Also, fire ants, swarm ants, stinging ants, manhura ants, sauba ants, red-brown ants, worker ants, tree ants, tracuá ants and the worst, the tucandera ant, furry, enormous, poisonous, a single bite is all it takes to kill a man, with acute pain and fever – and it was used by the Indians in the male initiations of boys, who had to stick their arm in a gourd full of tucanderas and endure to prove they were men.  And the leaf cutting ant, the sauba, the warrior ant and the army ant.  Von Martius describes whole populations fleeing from ants.  Sugar ants could make an army retreat!

     A week after the death of the wife of the rubber tapper Laurie Costa and immediately right after the massacre of the Caxinauá village by Numa warriors, Pierre Bataillon formed a military unit under the command of João Beleza to confront the invasion.  Then regulars began to march in pursuit of the enemy.  The possibility of a frontal attack by the Numa was not  dismissed and an emergency drill was carried out since the majority of the men had never been under fire; they were north-easterners who swore by the success of their knives.  The Manixi garrison had about 150 men armed with 45-caliber English Webley II revolvers and Winchester 94 American repeating rifles of eight 44-caliber cartridges.  They were dressed in boots, bandoliers, rawhide breeches and vests to withstand thorns and snakes.  Equipment followed on mules and canoes.  Recruits, armed men, swift Caingangue bushmen determined the location of the Numa camp and active troops advanced quickly in barges attacking repeatedly in rapid incursions and achieved significant victories, killing some Indians and keeping the Numa under fire inside the forest.  But the Numa fled and disappeared.

     João Beleza, who was lame, still pursued and sought them out for a week, but only caught up with old people and women carrying children who could not run and were immediately executed.  Lock, stock and barrell, they were all killed thus in cold blood crushing the heads of the children who were running from the discharge of bullets.


     One day João Beleza, who was camped in the evening on the shores of the Pique Yaco river to wait the Acre with new provisions and as the day began to dawn, ordered commandos to proceed forward along the river advancing slowly with mules and canoes that were carrying heavy combat equipment, when a white-skinned man named Julio, who was walking ahead, stopped and, cocking his rifle, lifted to take aim, fired a shot that echoed in the vast Amazon atmosphere.  Then, a scream of a woman in agony emanated from a thicket of brush; she went running toward the forest; she was carrying something, a kind of ball that she was holding with both arms to her breast, hiding it from the pointed rifles of pursuers ready to shoot.  She ran quickly until up ahead she fell stretched out on the ground, dead by the barrel of João Beleza himself.  João Beleza cut her down in the space between her hiding place on the water's edge and the border of the forest.  But the Indian woman, upon the impact of the 44-caliber bullet that crushed her ribs and shoulder, let go of that ball wrapped in straw from her arms onto the ground from where it went rolling down toward the river.


     It was a baby girl.  A new born that the Indian had just delivered.  João Beleza took it and held in the air, saw that it was a girl and lifting her up said, “You will be called Julia!” - and she was placed in a fiber hunting bag between the bullet cartridges on a raincoat.  When the commando returned to Manixi, they carried her to the shack of João Beleza, who wanted her to bring up.

     Oh, I remember that little girl, how I remember her!  From when she was a tiny infant, a child barely two feet in height and different in everything – she never cried or whimpered, she did not talk or make any noise whatsoever.  No.  She was not happy or sad, just a being, a being who observed, a mysterious being who looked without fear or terror, as if she saw nothing with her dark enigmatic eyes.  Yes, that was Julia, I neither invent nor lie – she did not get sick, beg for food, and stayed motionless in a corner, without moving, not requiring care, growing up, growing up strange and mute as if she knew what would happen.  When she was still a little girl, a piranha from Lake Quati hollowed out a spherical piece of her thigh, tearing away a chunk of soft flesh.  Julia just laughed and laughed, “hee, hee,” she kept laughing under her breath, as if the wound gave her pleasure. 

     João Beleza treated her like a daughter.  Years later, Julia prepared meals for him, cleaned the shack, took care of the animals and tamed them.  And she must have been an extraordinary lover as João Beleza always slept with her.


Seven: Disappearance


The reader is not going to believe what I am going to relate, as I have seen wonders that even now surprise me.  How, not returning to Paris to finish his studies, José Bataillon (he would be twenty-eight years old in 1918) remained on Hell's Bayou and led a strange life, by whimsy, removed from normal customs and expectations; the tappers withdrew several leagues from the Palácio, next to the Caxinauá and what remained of them within the boundaries of Amazonia.  Let us now descend into this unknown world.

     Apart from Maria Caxinauá, at Manixi there now lived the strapling caboclo Paxiúba, the boy Mundico and his mother, the cook at the Palácio, Isaura Botelho (the mother of Benito Botelho who was living in Manaus, taken, as I said, by Frei Lothar and then left in the care of Padre Pereira at the Vassourinha orphanage).  I, Ribamar de Souza, also stayed on at the Palácio, still a young man, having come from Patos in search of my brother Antonio and our uncle Genaro – now both dead.  There was as well the Indian Arimoque, whose fantastic stories still spread throughout the region even today.  The lame João Beleza and some men of the guard stayed at the big shed at a certain distance.  The Maacu Ivete was married to Antonio Ferreira and lived in Manaus, - Ferreira separated from Glorinha “the Dullard”, daughter of Commander Gabriel Gonçalves da Cunha, and was frequently mentioned in the social chronicle of the Amazonas Comercial with a certain irony.  The proprietor of the newspaper, Abraão Gadelha, a political enemy of the Commander, had been on the brink of ruin but was saved by the intervention of Dona Constança das Neves, wife of Juca das Neves who disbursed a fortune in social works.         


     But let's not waste time.

     When the urutu viper bites, it causes severe pain and the flesh swells up; it becomes a dark purple until appearance of hemorrhaging and death.  Now the rattlesnake bite attacks the central nervous system, the pain goes away, vision becomes blurry, the victim slowly becomes blind and starts to lose movement in the body, at first the fingers and toes.  Then come pains in the neck, ever stronger, paralysis will ensue, the death process will be seen to progress from the extremities to the center, the body becoming rigid, hard, death comes with clammy rigidity, by asphyxiation when the diaphragm hardens.  Death conquers the body.  The coral snake, like a jeweler's creation, is beautiful, red-yellow, brilliant colors and short fangs but rarely bites.  This beauty should not delude since biting, it kills.  But the worst of all is the bushmaster, large, aggressive, strong and, unlike the others, it comes on the attack.  It contains a good quantity of venom and remains in ambush on the dark edges of rivers and lakes.

     But, reader, we continue silent, alone.

     So from what I could gather from newspapers of the time and letters of those close to him, the disappearance of Zequinha Bataillon on the shores of Hell's Bayou occurred in January of 1912.  If this was not a work of fiction I could cite in footnotes at the bottom of the page the sources from where I obtained such information.  But the disappearance of the son of Pierre Bataillon, a man who lived from the riches in the Alto Juruá, remains shrouded in such mystery, an event forever mythologized in the popular imagination of Amazonia and Acre, and all the hypotheses raised then could not justify, nor explain, at least for me, the reason why I later had recourse to those alternative sources that I had the good fortune to come across, sources still alive, testimony of the main persons involved that I must omit, unfortunately, but which ingenious readers may soon discover if they know my family.  In the meantime I know and I said it before that this is merely a work of fiction and as such mendacious, among the several which exist in the literature of the Amazon, but a surprise awaits the reader, in spite of this, by what the thread of destiny will reveal.  All the facts disclosed here were significant realities and actually happened for my imagination and, if not exactly as I describe them, perhaps they would be even more extraordinary if it was not I who were writing them in the passages of the sections of the composition of this complex narrative.



Eight: Rats


     We come to the point in this road where I should state that, at a certain time, I remember well seeing a dark streak between the floorboards.  It was something that went by like a moving, dark straight line.  A cinematographic dash, continuous.  Then it looked like a straight, tiny snake infiltrating itself between the cracks of the worn-out structure, something passed through time, traveled across the world, flowing as if it were gliding to bore and hollow out the earth.  Then it appeared as a larger body, a solid body – an end, a tail.  Indeed, it was the tail of a rat.

     Perhaps a big rat came out of there ahead of me from its rats nest.  Maybe.  Ratania of Pará.  Maybe a large rat, an enormous rat, like a water rat, a swamp rat, gnawing, chewing under ground, eating away husks, nibbling and gnawing on crusts, consuming, devouring, in constant mastication.  Or more.  Or the black back, or dark gray, with a tail nearly six inches long, leather, tail of leather and a field mouse, murids – and behind, others are coming, house mice, small rats, and another black rat with a bristly coat, a rather fat mouse, maggot mouse, spiny mouse, palm mouse, spring mouse and more.  More.  And there were many more rats entering the big shed, vermin, varmints, tens, hundreds, thousands – Manixi was being consumed by rats and not only at night but even at any time of the day.

     I am telling that this happened in those years, later,  as I witnessed the process of decline and death of Manixi.  To describe what I saw then, I will say that rats, daring, voracious, famished, were multiplying, aggressively.  All the earnest efforts of João Beleza, who was managing the property, all his struggle against the rats furthered nothing, the rats did not disappear and they increased day by day; it was like there was nothing that would rid us of them, as even cats were unsuccessful; the cats could do nothing, they ended up dead, corpses of cats pillaged and eaten by hungry rats, avid, manifold, as if it were the last judgment.

     Taken over by his fury, João Beleza got a boa constrictor to frighten them, the rats, and rid the big shed of them, but the snake disappeared and then the trader Saraiva Marques, a man the worth of many men, showed up; he recommended and sold João Beleza a rat poison having a base of Prussian green arsenic.  João Beleza proceeded thus to feed the rats every night serving them food in a large pan.  The rats were eating a puree of manioc for days, each time more and more until they were sated and on the last day they ate the poisoned puree.

     Julia was laughing.  She was the first to make known their demise.  She smiled then, and guffawed, high pitched, nervously, “hee, hee, hee”, deliriously; the rats were dying in front of her.  She watched them die with an amiable interest, one by one, and looked upon them with affection; Julia dealt with them, crazed and enraptured, saw them die in the light of day, touched them, nestfuls here and there, on the bank of Hell's Bayou she started to laugh outright – the rats seeming to decorate everything, a collar of dead rats lining the water's edge, and there were tens and hundreds and thousands of dead rats; Julia laughing at those moribund beings, she took hold of them by the tail, speaking tenderly; she showed them off and bundling them together, laughing, she threw them into the condemned waters of Hell's Bayou.

     Afterwards there was a strange peace at the Manixi plantation.

     It came about that João Beleza woke up sick.

     He had colic; he went to the latrine but could not defecate, his bowels were burning inside him.

     He spent the day like that and ate the soup that Julia gave him.  When night fell he was worse, his stomach swelled even more and his arms and legs were falling asleep; they became cold.  His vision started to become blurry and darkening; he was dying slowly with pain and putrefaction, since Julia had poisoned him with the rat bait arsenic and on the following day he was completely dead, indeed.

     For the first time ever, Julia started to cry.  Julia started to cry, and she cried clasping her hands; she cried to the sky and she poured out tears made tender by her immense misfortune.


So it was that she left, without anyone seeing her, and disappeared into the forest without allowing anyone to come near her, like an enchanted being. No one heard anything of her again.  No one.  She was a young woman when this happened some years later.  I don't know exactly when, I just don't know, no, don't know...