With all the clarity of dream (*)

O que foi pedido: A short love, horror or funny story, usando expressões como As flat as a pancake, As good as gold, As pretty as a picture, As quiet as a mouse, etc

 O que foi entregue:

 Instead of A short love, horror or funny story,

A short love, horror and (slightly) funny story

The first one I saw was Regina, my ex-wife, and, although she had died years ago, in that absurd plane crash – how many years? six…, no, seven years, now -, she looked fine, her face very tanned, most probably by that everlasting sun that only Bahia has. She greeted me with a smile as large as the Amazon, and I couldn’t help noticing that she was taking good care of her teeth, as white as snow, far whiter than they were when we first met, decades, light years ago.

Then I saw Mary, my wife, my third and last wife (the third marriage is forever, we always kept saying to each other), the one who had finally taught me what on Earth love in peace means. She came to me almost running, also with a smile as big as the Everest, her eyes shining, and she hugged me and held me as close as the air.

They both cheerfully asked me to come in. I was standing near the entrance gate, and ahead of us, gathered in the lawn just outside the big house, by a pool, I saw a group of women chatting, drinking, seeming to be having a wonderful time. So it’s a party, I thought – though I couldn’t remember having been invited to one.

As Mary and Regina took me by the hand and we approached the group, all the laughter and the sound of so many voices suddenly faded out, and I noticed that each and every face were now turning to me, as if I were the guest of honor.

And, in frenzy, I recognized them. I knew each one of them, and I knew them like the back of my hand.

Fernanda, my daughter, was there, as pretty as a picture, beside Suely, her mother, my first wife. And next to them was Inês, Regina’s daughter from her previous marriage, with her two children, Maria and – oh my God, what’s her name?

I didn’t have time to remember, because now they were all surrounding me, greeting me, each one of them trying to catch my attention.

Angela, growing old, of course (we were all getting old, naturally, and thank God for that – growing old is one of the best things in life), but still looking as strong as an ox. And I couldn’t help remembering that when she and I had an affair, Regina, trying to act as cool as a cucumber, said that she looked like a peasant from a small Santa Catarina village, full of people of German descent.

Aglaia and Claudia, whom I had loved dearly. Maria Helena, from the first days of college. Adélia, that came shortly after her, in the early days of college. Mariana, as slippery as an eel, the last one in order of appearance, as they say in the film credits, who came into my life like a hurricane, threatening to destroy everything that was ahead of her, but fortunately went away as quiet as a mouse.

Beth, from my days at highschool, at the Aplicação, when I was just fourteen. Bibi, Miryam Lúcia, Selma Catita, Penha, Elaine, Lourdinha, Derci, Vera, Sandra, Lucy… Rita. Marli, Márcia. Marli and Márcia were now, like myself, back to Cultura Inglesa after so many years, and all of this because of Mary, who began studying in March and made me envious. All of us, as old as the hills, feeling kind of awkward, among so many teenagers…)

All those women, those magnificent women… They were so many, so many, I can’t name them all here, or explain about them all, because, let’s face it, Lúcia, from Cultura Inglesa, hasn’t got the time to read a description so vast as the sky of what was happening. Puzzled, confused, astonished, like a drunkard in a midnight choir (**), I uttered, at last, the question that was pounding in my head, seeing all of them, all the women I had loved or liked very much – or, as John Lennon puts it, all the lovers and friends I had in my life:

“But what’s happening, anyway? What’s up?”

And then one of them – I was so startled I didn’t recognize her voice – told me, very gently, very slowly, as if she was taking pity on me:

“But Sérgio, how come? Don’t you know? Is it possible that you haven’t realized? We’re here to attend to you funeral!”

Alternate ending I

(…)

“But Sérgio, how come? Don’t you know? Is it possible that you haven’t realized? We’re here to attend to you funeral!”

And then I woke up.

Alternate ending II

(…)

“But Sérgio, how come? Don’t you know? Is it possible that you haven’t realized? We’re here to attend to you funeral!”

And then I woke up, sweating, my chest aching, as if an elephant was forcing one of its paws right onto it.

Alternate ending III

(…)

“But Sérgio, how come? Don’t you know? Is it possible that you haven’t realized? We’re here to attend to you funeral!”

And suddenly I remembered the last scene in Truffaut’s L’Homme qui aimait les femmes, the scene of Charles Donner’s character’s funeral, only women bidding him their last farewell, his coffin being lowered to the grave, and, in off, a woman’s voice saying something like: “He would be glad to see us from where he is now, down there, our legs showing from beneath our dresses” – what a wonderful, marvelous, spectacular scene!

And I thought: My goodness, what a beautiful way of dying, as if I were in a Truffaut’s film! And it works like a dream!

And then, after a short time of complete bewilderment, I began thinking that death, after all, might well be as good as life.

Simple as that.

 (*) Used without the kind permission of Mr. Mark Knopfler

(**) Used withouth the kind permission of Mr. Leonard Cohen

A historinha por trás do texto

Gosto especialmente desse texto – e da historinha que está por trás dele.

Nunca soube escrever ficção. Adolescente, escrevi acho que três noveletas – bostas completas, absolutas – e alguns mini-contos sem qualquer valor; dar meio guarani paraguaio por todos eles seria um desperdício de grana.

Tenho uma imensa inveja dos amigos que sabem fazer ficção – Anélio Barreto, Valdir Sanches.

Eu simplesmente não consigo.

Minha mais recente tentativa de fazer algo parecido com ficção – o textinho aí acima – aconteceu a partir do pedido da professora da Cultura Inglesa, de que os meninos da classe escrevessem “A short love, horror or funny story” usando expressões que ela estava ensinando, as tais do tipo As flat as a pancake, As good as gold, As pretty as a picture, As quiet as a mouse.

Não cheguei propriamente a fazer ficção – fiz uma espécie assim de capítulo de memórias. Mas foi gostoso. A experiência foi de fato bem interessante, e então conto a história.

Quem começou tudo foi Mary, que aceitou o desafio de fazer Cultura Inglesa – a rigor, convencida por mim. Se inscreveu, fez uns cinco semestres, acho, curtindo muito; foi ótimo para ela, que nunca tinha estudado inglês de forma organizada. Me deu uma certa inveja; duas colegas de quem na época eu andava próximo falavam da Cultura, uma delas tinha dado aulas lá, outra, de excelente inglês, resolveu voltar – e, influenciado por tudo isso, resolvi eu também voltar. Fucei nos papéis velhíssimos, peguei meu First Certificate de Cambridge – que obtive aos 18 anos, quando cheguei a São Paulo – e o levei para a Cultura de Pinheiros. Me aplicaram os testes, e me classificaram numa classe bem abaixo do que eu achava que merecia. Apesar disso, me submeti ao mico de ir à aula, com 52 anos de idade; eram uns 15 meninos de no máximo 25 anos, e umas três pessoas acima de 30. Foi um absoluto horror. Sem praticar havia anos, eu estava de fato um principiante, quando se tratava de falar. E falar no meio daquela classe cheia de adolescentes era uma tortura.

Acho que fui a uma aula – ou talvez tenham sido duas. E aí a professora – Lúcia, uma moça simpática, competente, correta – propôs a redação. Epa, redação! Não falar besteiras no meio de gente mais jovem que minha filha, mas escrever, preto no branco – é só batucar nas teclas e sai.  

Fiz o texto, e mandei por e-mail para a professora. Mas não fui à aula seguinte – dei uma de Lula, fugi da escola.

A fessora mandou um e-mail: “As I have already told you, your story is super well-written, a delight to read. Also, you make use of a vast range of vocabulary and grammar structures. There were a few mistakes, though, and I’ve made a few corrections. See if they make sense to you. See you later on in class.”

Faltei também à aula seguinte. A fessora mandou novo e-mail: “Hi. We missed you tonight… Are you ok? What a pleasure to read your short love, horror and funny story. It flows so naturally, and you did use the new vocabulary… Congrats!!! There are a few things to be corrected, and I will do so by Thursday, ok? See you then, Lúcia (the teacher from Cultura Inglesa who not only had the time to read your story but also enjoyed it thoroughly…)”

Já não me lembro exatamente o que veio depois; acho que me ligaram da Cultura, perguntaram se eu não poderia ir lá conversar com a supervisora, ou algo parecido. Fui. Disse que achava que tinham me colocado num patamar abaixo do que eu deveria estar. A supervisora, ou whatever, disse que havia conversado com a professora, que ela na aula não havia notado nada, que minha fala era não mais que razoável, mas que de fato ela havia ficado surpreendida com o texto. Me ofereceram pular alguns semestres. Agradeci muito, dei uma de Lula de novo e não tive mais coragem de comparecer ao local de aprendizagem, assim como Lula odeia comparecer ao local de trabalho.

Tenho plena consciência de que o erro foi meu – tanto que já me comparei ao Lula duas vezes. Me recusei a aprender; me recusei a ser humilde, a admitir que não sabia tanto quanto deveria saber. Fui Lula – terceiro chicote nas minhas costas. Deveria ter tentado, me esforçado mais. Se a gente não tenta, não se esforça, não aprende, fica que nem Lula, a vida inteira elogiando o fato de não ter estudado.

Ah, sim: o texto publicado acima já está com as correções – umas cinco ou seis –  feitas pela fessora Lúcia, gente boa, gente fina, a quem mandei uma mensagem longa pedindo desculpas e explicando que o fato de eu ter desistido de continuar na Cultura não tinha absolutamente nada a ver com ela.  

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