It's been sixty days since my grandparents put the cheese in the window sill to dry. They brought it from a tour to Serra da Estrela, one of those typical soft cheeses, rich, perfumed like sweet burnt toffee... and today is when they will open it to eat and see that there is nothing inside!
Whenever my grandparents took a nap, I went to the kitchen to steal some of it. I was always careful not to step on the entrance tile, which makes a noise. I told them that’s the way you’re supposed to eat the cheese anyway! I've seen my dad make a little lid with a knife, in a cheese like that, and then take the cream out with a spoon, but my grandparents didn't believe me and said I had to wait. I couldn't stand it. I made a little hole underneath, with the back of a coffee spoon, and every afternoon I went there to eat a little bit. Now it’s all gone, and I’m gonna be dead soon.
I told my schoolmates about my cheese dilemma. They offered to help. Reuben is an expert at opening Christmas presents ahead of time and wrapping them the same way so parents never know. So I asked him for help, of course!
- Sophie, I'm telling you right now, your situation is not easy. - he said - I don't know if I have the raw material to fill the cheese credibly.
- For the love of Panda, Reuben! I need you to get me out of this! - I begged - Remember when I lent you my markers on Easter break?
I know, I know... I was doing emotional blackmail, yet I was desperate.
- I drew in black and white for two weeks! - I continue - Do you know what it's like to draw Easter eggs with just an outline? My drawings didn't even go to the wall!
- Okay, okay... But I can't help you on my own. - He said - We're gonna need of reinforcements.
He thought for a few seconds and then asked me to wait. He went to Pragna's table, our Indian colleague, and called her, then went to Michael and he joined the group, and finally called Diego.
- Guys. - said Reuben - We have a situation on our hands. Sophie made a hole in a cheese, buttery style, and ate all the stuffing, only the little shell left. Now it's up to us to solve her problem.
- Us? - asked Michael - But what can we do?
- You, specifically, nothing. - Reuben informed him - But your mother works in the school canteen, so she can get us the rest of that spaghetti all glued together that they serve every day.
- And what are you going to do with the spaghetti? - asked Diego.
- I'm glad you asked, my dear colleague. - said Reuben - I understand you have a handle pencil sharpener. We'll shred the spaghetti until it becomes a paste.
- Hey! - exclaimed Diego upset - No one will shred anything in my new pencil sharpener! It'll get dirty!
- I'll clean up, Diego! I swear! - I promised.
- Hum...Okay. - he agreed.
- Sophie? - called Pragna - I wish you the greatest strength and that you can return the cheese to your grandparents without them noticing, however, what can I do for you?
- Aha! Pragna! - said Reuben - You have our camouflage!
Everyone looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders, clearly no one understood anything.
- Saffron! - exclaimed Reuben - Surely you'll have saffron at home.
- I have saffron at home. - said Michael.
- Shhh! - Reuben told him to shut up and turned again to our Indian colleague - Pragna, do you think you can get us some saffron, as yellow as you have?
-Ah... - Pragna hesitated - Will you put saffron on the spaghetti so it'll turn yellow?
- Precisely! - exclaimed Reuben.
- And how do we put the paste inside? - I asked - I can't bring what's left of the cheese to the school, they'll notice it.
- That part is up to me. - he guaranteed - I'll take the made pasta home, you knock on my window, pass me the cheese and I'll return it all ready!
Reuben's parents live in the building next to my grandparents', also on the third floor. Our kitchen windows lead to the back of the building. When he comes to play in my house, and his mother wants to call him for dinner, she hits the glass with her broom handle.
- Reuben, you're a genius! - I conclude.
I leave school every day at four in the afternoon. My grandmother picks me up, she always brings an apple for me. Actually, there's no need, because her house is a block from the school, it takes us about five minutes on foot to get there, but she knows I can't stand waiting.
On the way, she always asks me:
- Have you learned much today?
To which I always answer: Yes!
- You study a lot Sophie! So one day you can become a doctor. - she says.
- But Grandma, I don't want to be a doctor!
- Then look, don't study! If you want to be like me! - She says ironically - The biggest pity I have in life is not going to school.
I don't understand the connection between the two. I like going to school too, I just don't want to be a doctor! As she spends her life at the doctor's she must think that if her granddaughter becomes a doctor she won't pay for consultations anymore. Pff! I also wish I had a grandmother who sold jellybeans, but I don't. That's life, unfair.
We follow the walk (I hurry) while I tell her what I learned. I know she doesn't understand anything I'm talking about. She can't read. When the postman comes to deliver things, she makes an "X" instead of signing. But she proudly says that she recognizes her own name "Maria of the Conception".
On a corner of that block is the day care center for the elderly. That's where my grandfather is, playing dominoes with his friends. We go in. Every time I walk through that door, I get the same smell as when I was in kindergarden, I think it's a mixture of bread with butter, milk with chocolate and the white balls that my grandmother puts in the closet.
- Grandpa! - I scream when I see him.
He doesn't care about me, he's finishing up a master move. I approach.
- Come on, Grandpa! Let's go home!
The other three old men, who are sitting at the table with him, watch him closely.
- Grandpa, that's nothing to know, just put this piece on. - I'll take one piece, the one with six spots on one side, and put it in the centre of the game. - That's it! Let's go!
My grandpa gets super pissed off, pushes me lightly, tells me to go to my grandma, but I'm not going.
- I swear on my honor, Sophie! - he says - Can't you see I'm busy?
- But I want to go home!
-Tell your grandmother to go. - he tells me during the other old man's turn.
I'm going back to my grandmother, who stood at the door talking to a lady.
- Grandma! Grandpa said we should go home.
- No, we're not going home! - she says - They're giving free snacks at 4:30.
If there's one person in the world who loves free food, it's my grandmother. Sometimes it's very confusing for me, adults always tell children not to accept anything from strangers, however, my grandmother says "If it's free, accept it!". And when I say I don't want to accept it because I don't like it (for example, Mr. Gonçalves's persimmons) she adds "If you don't like it, bring it home, I’ll eat it".
I go back to my grandfather's side, who provokes his playmate by telling him that he can't play.
-Grandpa! - I shout again - Grandma doesn't want to leave because they're giving free snacks!
When I say "snacks" and "free" the other old people look at me straight away.
- That's right! It's almost snack time! - says the gentleman in the striped shirt.
They drop the game and get up to go to the cafeteria.
- That's it! - exclaims my grandfather - You had to ruin my game!
- What have I done now?
On the clock on the wall the hands are at four fifteen. The old people get up and line up by the canteen window. I take the opportunity to change the TV channel to the cartoons, there's no remote control, I have to go there and press the button hard.
The lady in the pink gown and cap asks everyone to calm down, she gives each one a tray.
My grandparents come back to me, I stayed at the table where the domino game took place.
- Here you go. - My grandma gives me half her bread and the three cookies that come per board.
- I just want the cookies. - I say without letting my eyes off the screen.
- Give her your mug of milk, Manuel. - orders my grandmother to my grandfather - we'll split mine.
- She doesn't want it, Maria! - he says without asking me.
I love pissing off my grandpa, and that's the only reason I say:
- Yes, I do!
- Oh, boy! I swear on my honor! - he complains as he passes me the mug of chocolate milk.
My grandmother puts half the pack of sugar in their mug and the other half in mine.
The other pack, still unopened, she gives it to me and tells me to keep it.
- But grandmother, it’s sugar! What do I want sugar for?
- Put it away! - She tells me - You may need it and not have it!
I don't know at what point in my life I'll need a single packet of sugar, but I've kept it in my overalls pocket.
Mrs.Graça, who has always dressed in black since her husband went to heaven, sits next to my grandmother, puts her hand in her coat pocket and pulls out a handkerchief where she blows her nose.
- This handkerchief, it's been to Spain and back! - she says proudly raising her snot.
- Oh yes! - adds my grandmother - that's the jacket you took on the tour the other day, isn't it?
My grandparents go on tours every other weekend. This year alone, they've been to Spain seven times! They only go to win the gifts. Last time they brought a round can with five kilos of tuna and a bottle of olive oil!
- Eat the last biscuit! - Says my grandmother.
- I don't feel like it. - I'll tell her.
My grandmother doesn't like to see anything left on her plate (or anyone’s plate for that matter), and since I didn't want to, she ate it.
- Ok, we’re good! - says my grandfather while he wipes his mouth on the napkin.
- Now we drink coffee at home. - inform my grandmother.
The door of the building is broken, the latch is loose, so we just push.
In the lobby are the domino garages. My grandfather parks his domino case there every day when he comes from the day care center. I think the measure is made for chess boards, the entrance is so narrow that my grandfather always has to cheat and open with the key to keep his there. Sometimes he finds envelopes inside.
They live on the third floor, the building has no elevator. I always go in the front, then comes my grandfather and last, my grandmother. She limps, so it takes longer to get home. This is the only situation where my grandfather doesn't wait for my grandmother. As she climbs the stairs, she gives us time to get home, pee, turn on the coffee machine and sit down and watch TV. At my grandparents' house there's a remote, but I can't touch it. In fact, I can't touch anything electronic (at least when my grandfather is looking).
The phone in the hall rings, just in time for my grandmother to arrive.
- Hello? - she answers.
It's my mom on the other side. She's calling from work, I bet she wants to know if I've done my homework.
- No, we just got here. - says my grandmother - She already had her snack, yes. An apple, a mug of milk and chocolate and some cookies.
My mom's an investigating officer. She always wants to know everything I did... and what I didn't do.
- She hasn't done her homework yet…
- I don't have any homework today! - I shout from the living room.
- She's saying she doesn't have any homework. - my grandmother sends the message.
- Your mom's asking if you have math exercises to do. - my grandmother asks from the doorpost.
- No! - I exclaim once again.
- She says no. - concludes - So bye, see you later.
My grandmother puts the phone down and goes to the kitchen.
I can hear her stepping on the tile at the entrance, which is loose and half up, always making a fitting noise.
It's ten minutes to five in the afternoon. I love it when it hits the time! My grandparents' house has lots of clocks, they are asynchronous to each other, so when it hits an hour they all play out of step.
My grandfather takes a bottle of "coffee perfume" out of the closet. My grandmother enters the room with two cups of coffee and a glass of water that comes out at the end, where she puts a lemon zest and some ice cubes. This glass is for me, she calls it "coffee soda." In their cup, my grandfather puts a little "coffee perfume", but in mine he says it is not necessary because it already has the lemon. I don’t care, this “coffee perfume” make my eyes burn just by smelling it anyway...
It's five in the afternoon! The clock in the room gives Beethoven's Symphony #5. My grandfather taught me that since there are only nine symphonies, and the clocks have twelve numbers, the other three songs belong to the Swedish pop band ABBA. He also explained that the reason for this is that he bought the clock at the chinese store.
The phone rings again. I bet it's my father now. My parents are divorced, so they ask the same questions.
- Hello? - My grandmother answers the phone.
My grandfather picks me up and we dance in the living room. My feet don't reach the ground, but I like it better because it feels like I'm flying!
- No homework today. - inform my grandmother.
- Hang up the phone Maria! - asks my grandfather - Let's dance!
How my grandfather loves music! The house shakes when he turns on the radio. I like to sit on the floor in the corner of the room when he is listening to music, I just feel the wood vibrating. He, on the other hand, sits on the couch with his eyes closed. I think about the places where he goes in his imagination.
My grandmother doesn't care much for the music. She'd rather stay at the window, but only when the sun hits. She turns the windows of the house as the light hits. She likes the sun so much, that once she killed the blackbird she was trying to save by accident. My grandfather caught it on the floor, with a injured wing. So he took him home and my grandmother took care of him, but she felt bad for him not seeing the sunlight that she hung the cage outside the bedroom window in the middle of summer and forgot! The bird passed away from so much heat. My grandmother was very sad and said that she never wants to help animals ever again.
My grandfather puts a record of classical music and sits next to my grandmother, who is on the part of the sofa where the light hits.
It shouldn't be long before they fall asleep... And that's when I'll put the plan into practice!
In the meantime, I'll go to my grandparents bedroom, open the closet and put on my grandfather's blue vest from when he was a knight. He never told me, but in his pockets he has long papers with "three hundred thousand escudos" written on them, that’s the old currency, so I soon realized. I like to play with their stuff. Then I go to my grandmother's bedside table, she has a Chinese porcelain doll there, her hand is broken because you can take it off. I put it in the front pocket of my overalls, next to the sugar package. My grandfather always said that "one could always use a hand", and right now, I need all the hands I can get.
I jump on the bed, and look over the closet, that's where my grandfather hides the binoculars. I push the bed until it's leaning against the wardrobe door and feel the top until I find them.
I stand watch at the doorway of the room, I look through the binoculars at my grandmother's face, her eyelid starts to wobble. I think I can start my mission!
I have one hour to complete my mission, until six in the afternoon, when the clock plays Beethoven's 6th symphony, and my grandparents wake up.
I take baby steps down the hall to the kitchen, jump over the tile, reach the window sill, where the cheese (actually, the shell) is drying.
I look around. It's a good thing that my grandmother put a plate on top of the shirtless lady's face, the one that is on the calendar that my grandfather took home. If she could see me, she would probably tell.
The dishes hanging in the kitchen wall were the first thing I read when I learned to read. The one facing the door of the house says, "He who gives to the poor, lends to God.” But God never came to the house to return my doll cart, the one my grandmother gave away (without asking me) to the girls at the end of the street.
I open the window and call my friend:
On the other side, I hear the window opening.
- So, is everything ready? - he asks.
- Yes, my grandparents are asleep. - I answer.
- Okay, so here's what you do, you wrap a rope around the cheese, you attach the rope to the tip of the broom and then you pass it to me.
I go back down the hall, always careful not to step on the tile, open the closet where my grandfather keeps his tools, grab a rope, close the door slowly so they don't hear. Behind the kitchen door is the broom. I roll the rope like Reuben said, and finally, I attach the cheese.
I rolled the rope around the cheese twice. - I'll inform him through the window - Do you think that's enough?
He shrugs his shoulders.
- That should do it! - says Reuben with his hands out the window to receive the cheese.
- Okay! Here goes!
I put the broom out the window, with the cheese hanging down, and open my arm as far as I can to get to the other side.
Go! Almost there! - says Reuben touching the cheese with his fingertips.
He's got his two arms out the window and his torso on the windowsill, I'm leaning against the window, with one hand holding the broom, and the other, the wall. In this time frame, the cheese slides between the rope and falls! Right on the bottom neighbors' clothesline! It got caught between a pair of pants and a bra.
The window opens and a little head comes out. Looks at the cheese and looks up. It's Little Rita, the granddaughter of the downstairs neighbors. She's six and she's really annoying!
- Oh, oh... - she says - I'm telling!
Me and Reuben look at each other terrified.
- Little Rita! - Calls Reuben - Wait!
- Wait for what? - she asks.
- Sophie... - he tells me quietly - Give her some candy!
Everyone knows that Little Rita is crazy about candy. She doesn't even have her front tooth just because of the lollipops she's already eaten.
- I don't have any candy... - I answer between my teeth - The candies are in the living room, if I go there now my grandparents will wake up.
- Sophie has a candy for you if you don't tell! - says Ruben.
- Does she? - asks Little Rita intrigued - What candy?
I don't have any candy. I look at the fruit basket, I see two apples and a banana.
- I have a banana! - I'll exclaim.
She frowned, upset.
- A banana? That's not candy! - she screams.
- It's candy... - adds Ruben - Mother Nature´s candy!
- No. - says Little Rita crossing her arms - I'm telling!
- NO! - Me and Ruben shout in chorus.
- Wait! I have something else here!
I take the sugar packet that my grandmother gave me out of my dungarees pocket and draw her a teddy bear.
- Sweet sand! - I exclaim.
Ruben looks at me surprised.
- Sweet sand? - asks Little Rita.
- Yes! It's a bear thing. Only cute little bears eat sweet sand...
My friend and neighbor, Reuben, smiles. He taught me everything I know about reverse psychology.
- I'm a cuddly bear... - says Little Rita to herself.
- And that's why you deserve some nice, sweet sand! - I say -The only thing you have to do is tie the cheese to the rope I'm sending you and never tell anyone about this.
- Okay! - she agrees - But first give me my sweet sand.
I drop the sugar packet right in Little Rita’s hands. She looks at the drawing I made.
- Is this really a bear? - she doubts it -It looks more like a mouse...
- Come on! - Hurry Ruben - Now hold up your end of the bargain or we'll never give you bear sand again!
With her little hands, Little Rita takes the cheese, and with her little fingers she holds the rope that I have stretched for her.
Now you turn the cheese around twice and then tie a knot. - I say.
- I can't tie a knot! - Inform Little Rita - My brother is the one who ties my shoelaces.
I'm stunned, with my mouth open. Reuben shakes his head.
- How did we not think of this? - he says.
- I'll ask my brother when he comes back. Bye! - adds Little Rita.
- I CAN'T WAIT! - I scream.
- Then we ask Louie. - she says - He's a Boy Scout now, he must know how to tie a knot.
Louie is the kid who lives on the first floor. He's Little Rita’s classmate, they're the same age. I've seen him go to the hospital several times for putting marbles, buttons and other things on his nose.
Okay. Then call him! - I ask.
OH LOUIE!! - she shouts.
- Don't yell! Everyone’s grandparents will come to the windows. - exclaims Reuben.
- Oh Louieeee... - says Little Rita.
We hear the lock of the window opening.
Hello Little Rita! - says Louie, smiling at his toothless neighbor.
- He's fat and has curls in his hair.
- Hello Louie! Can you help us, please? - asks Little Rita.
Louie notices we're two more up here, looking at him.
- Yes, of course! What can I do for you, neighbors?
- So Louie... - explains Reuben - The problem is, we need someone to tie a knot in a string holding that cheese Little Rita has in her hand.
- And that cheese belongs to who? - asks Louie.
- To my grandparents. - I say.
- And why does Little Rita have it? - asks the curious Louie.
- Because they dropped it on my grandparents' clothesline. - she says.
- And what are you doing passing cheeses from window to window? - asks Louie again, already suspicious.
- That's none of your business! - says Reuben - What we're asking you to do is to use your scouting skills, tie a knot in the rope and let us do the rest.
- In fact, what it says in Article 7 of the Webelos Code is that, and I quote: "When strange events occur, we should report to a responsible adult".
- Don't you have anything in your pocket to bribe Louie? - Reuben asks me.
- Ah! - I remember the hand of the Chinese doll - Louie, how many things have you put in your nose so far?
- A marble, two buttons and a piece of lego. - declares Little Rita in a passionate sigh.
- And half a straw! - adds Louie proudly.
- And... - I raise my hand with the Chinese porcelain doll's hand between my fingers - This?
Louie's eyes sparkle. He remains silent.
- Lou! - says Reuben - I can call you Lou, yes? Now that we're friends... This is a unique opportunity! All you need is a piece like this to complete your history at the emergency room!
The small fat kid rests his index finger in is lips while he thinks for a split of a second.
- Okay! I accept!
Me and Reuben exchanged a naughty smile.
- Okay, Little Rita, now drop the cheese so Louie can pick it up, and I'll stretch more rope.
- Okay! - says Little Rita.
Louie stretches out his hands, Little Rita moves a tablecloth that is on the clothesline and delicately drops the cheese... Until it passes between Louie's hands and falls into the yard below!
- Nooooooooo! - I scream.
- Now it's done... - says Reuben.
- Oh,oh. - says Little Rita.
- Oops... - says Louie.
Everybody's looking at Louie: Me, very angry, Reuben looks like "you're gonna get it" and Little Rita...I don’t really know, because I'm in the window above her.
- I'm sorry? - Louie begs.
The clock in the room starts ringing. It's already six in the afternoon! My grandparents will wake up and see there's no cheese! Now what?
- Sophie? - Call Louie.
- What is it? - I answer exalted.
- My grandparents have a similar cheese here! - he disappears from the window sill and comes back with a cheese just like the one I ate - They brought it from a tour. Send me the rope, I'll tie this one up and that's it, done! - says Louie.
I can't believe it! Reuben looks at me, surprised with happiness. Little Rita sighs.
I hear the sofa spring in the living room, my grandmother gets up.
- A hero. - says the little toothless one, admiring her little boy scout.
I drop a little more rope, Louie ties the new cheese, I pull. I hear my grandmother's footsteps in the hall. Little Rita watches as the new cheese goes up in front of her face. The tile makes the fitting sound, my grandmother's already at the door!
- Sophie! - she exclaims - What are you doing?!
I pull the cheese out, hide it inside my overalls, bring the broom inside and turn to my grandmother.
- Nothing Grandma, just talking to Reuben.
- Oh, is Reuben there? - she asks - Send my regards to his family.
I lean over the window sill, and I say:
- My grandmother sends her regards to your family! - I wink at him.
My grandmother looks out the window. I take this moment to put the cheese where the other was.
- Bye-bye! - says my grandmother to Reuben.
- Bye Sophie's grandmother! - says Reuben.
- Go on, close the window! - says my grandmother.
I take the hand of the Chinese doll out of my pocket, whistle, Louie and Little Rita are still down there, I drop lightly.
- See if you can catch it now. - I say quietly while I close the window.
My grandmother and I go through the kitchen door when I make her notice the little ball surrounding today's date on the calendar with the naked lady.
-Grandma! Isn't today the day we can open the cheese?
- Oh yes, it is - exclaims my grandmother, looking back at the corner of the parapet, where the new cheese is - I didn't even remember! Look, it was still there. Thanks for reminding me.
It was 2PM on a Saturday, June.
I agreed to have a meal with a friend at the Graveyard. I got there first, and I still had time to talk a bit to the gravedigger, who has a maggot crawling up his back as he opens the gate for me.
- "Today is a beautiful night!" Said the gravedigger.
- Thanks! - I replied, as if I was responsible in some way for that.
I headed toward the Mrs.Clotilde de Almeida grave, loved by her husband, son and daughter-in-law. She has a bell on a pillar, next to the tombstone.
On other occasions, we have had the opportunity to rang several times, but as no one has ever opened, we decided to stop.
We chose this destination for our picnics because the Mrs.Clotilde de Almeida grave, loved by her husband, son and daughter-in-law, is the one with the best view over the city.
Several times I wondered if it would be disrespectful to sit here, eat, talk and see the sights ... But it would probably be what I would do at her house, if she were alive, and I knew her, of course!
Besides that, we always leave everything clean when we go away.
I never brought her a flower. Not because I do not esteem her, I imagine that Mrs.Clotilde de Almeida, beloved by her husband, son and daughter-in-law, was an excellent lady, I just have no need to please myself or the others here. I think of her whenever I sit down here, I talk to her whenever I agree to meet my friend, and I hope this is already a tribute to her memory.
My friend is late and I am already hungry, but this time it's his turn to bring the food. Usually, we always bring fruit. We both have trees in the orchard. I usually bring citrus, an orange has never hurt anyone. They say that in the morning it is gold, in the afternoon is silver, and at night it kills. However, I am not yet a neighbor of Mrs.Clotilde de Almeida, loved by her husband, son and daughter-in-law.
- I bet you're death starving! - my friend jokes, appearing from behind me.
- How creative! Was that the first thing that occurred to you, you dry? - I reply.
- Wait until you taste this cantaloup! You're going to see me salivate! - He says, as he removes a cantaloup from a plastic bag.
- What a pleasant sight! - I answer ironically as I get half a cantaloup along with a dessert spoon.
- Pleasant is this cantaloup! Made of honey, color of lioness.
- Oh really? Are you going to continue making a joke out of the desert at every turn? You're very happy, what's happening?
- My nephew was born! The kid is very cute! He's going to be a pianist! - Exclaimed my friend enthusiastically.
- He just arrived to this world, how do you know he's going to be a pianist? Was it expelled from the womb directly to the keys?
- My sister listened to Mozart for nine consecutive months! - My friend replies in the most natural tone, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, a logical reasoning.
- My mother listened to Madonna. You do not see me offering a table dance and/or my virginity to anyone ... - sarcastically I reply.
- Do not be disgusting! It's such a beautiful night! - He pleads looking at the moon.
- I prefer the sunset.
- I told you I'm at work during sunset.
I completely ignore my friend's last statement.
- Do you think that the beauty of the sunset relieves the work we all have to do to support ourselves or having a job makes us enjoy the sunset with the hope of a better day?
- The first. - He responds without hesitation.
- Imagine that the sunset represents all the good things in life: falling in love, fulfilling your dreams, laughing with friends, doing what you like, having a child ... these are the things that make us want to continue to struggle in the existence that we do not ask for, in the pain we do not want, in the suffering of others ...
- How deep! I think you found oil! - I'm joking with him.
- Then do not tell the Americans! - My friend answers in a monocordic tone.
- Maybe they would make a hole in Spain and think they were in the right place.
- And the official version for the media would be "The liberation of the Spanish people from the dictatorship!" While American soldiers burned magazines like "Hola!" With the face of Letizia.
- If Portugal were a monarchy, I would vote for Julia Pinheiro to be Queen! - I exclaim with joy.
- What do you mean?! The succession, by right, belongs to that gentleman with the mustache, who seems to be always with the flu, and who's children do not resemble him at all.
- He's always with the flu. He lives in Bragança! It's always cold there!
- That's a myth! It is like the story that the Algarve is always sunny.
- Touché! - I have no subject.
A few seconds of silence between us.
- Look, - he says - I have to leave soon. I gotta feed my Guinea Pigs.
- You must not feed them after midnight !! - I exclaim.
- Those are the Mogwais! And they do not exist!
- You also call them "Guinea Pigs" and you live in Bobadela.
- But I'm moving soon. - my friend replies in an arrogant tone.
- If you need help, say! - I offer.
- Of course! Thank you.
- So let's go! - I got up - Did you bring a bag for the trash?
- No ... I forgot!
We shrugged in silence and walked away.
- Bye, Mrs.Clotilde! To the next! - We say goodbye in chorus.
Eram duas da manhã de um sábado de Junho.
Combinei de comer uma meloa com um amigo no Cemitério. Cheguei primeiro que ele, ainda falei um pouco com o coveiro, que, enquanto uma larva lhe trepava pelas costas, me abria o portão.
- Hoje está uma bela noite! – disse o coveiro.
- Obrigada! – respondi, como se fosse responsável de alguma forma por isso.
Segui em direcção à campa da D.Clotilde de Almeida, amada pelo esposo, filho e nora. Ela tem uma campainha num pilar, ao lado da lápide.
Em outras ocasiões, tivemos a oportunidade de tocar várias vezes, mas como nunca ninguem abriu, deixámos de o fazer.
Escolhemos este destino para os nossos “pic-nics” pois, a campa da D.Clotilde de Almeida, amada pelo esposo, filho e nora, é a que tem a melhor vista sobre a cidade.
Por várias vezes me perguntei se seria desrespeito sentar-me aqui, comer, falar e ver as vistas… Mas seria, provavelmente, o que faria em casa dela, se ela fosse viva, e, eu a conhecesse, claro!
Além de que, nós deixamos sempre tudo limpo quando vamos embora.
Nunca lhe trouxe uma flor. Não porque não lhe tenha estima, imagino que a D.Clotilde de Almeida, amada pelo esposo, filho e nora, tenha sido uma excelente senhora, apenas não tenho necessidade de me agradar, nem aos outros que por aqui passam. Penso nela sempre que aqui me sento, falo com ela sempre que combino encontrar-me com o meu amigo, e, espero que isso já seja uma homenagem à sua memória.
O meu amigo nunca mais chegava e eu já estava com alguma fome, porem, desta vez ficou ele de trazer a comida. Geralmente, trazemos sempre fruta. Ambos temos árvores no pomar. Costumo trazer mais citrinos, uma laranja nunca fez mal a ninguém. Dizem que de manhã é ouro, à tarde é prata e à noite mata. Contudo, ainda não sou vizinha da D.Clotilde de Almeida, amada pelo esposo, filho e nora.
- Aposto que estás morta de fome! – graceja o meu amigo, aparecendo por trás de mim.
- Que criativo! Foi a primeira coisa que te ocorreu, seu seco? – responde.
- Espera só até saborear esta meloa! Vais-me ver a salivar! – diz ele enquanto retira uma meloa de um saco de plastico.
- Que visão agradável! – respondo irónicamente enquanto recebo metade de uma meloa juntamente com uma colher de sobremesa.
- Agradável é esta meloa! Feita de mel, côr de leoa.
- Sério? Vais continuar a sacar uma piada do deserto a cada deixa? – pergunto – Estás muito alegre, que se passa?
- Nasceu o meu sobrinho! O puto é muito giro! Vai ser pianista! – exclama o meu amigo com entusiasmo.
- Como assim nasceu e já vai ser pianista? Foi expelido do ventre directamente para as teclas?
- A minha irmã ouviu Mozart durante nove meses consequtivos! – responde ele no tom mais natural, como se fosse a coisa mais óbvia do mundo, um raciocínio lógico.
- A minha mãe ouviu Madonna. Não me vês a oferecer uma dança e/ou a virgindade a ninguém… - sarcásticamente respondo.
- Não sejas desagradável! Está uma noite tão bonita! – suplica o meu amigo olhando para a lua.
- Prefiro o pôr-do-sol.
- Já te disse que a essa hora estou a trabalhar.
Ignoro por completo a ultima afirmação do meu amigo.
- Achas que a beleza do pôr-do-sol alivia o trabalho que todos temos de fazer para nos sustentar, ou ter um trabalho faz-nos apreciar o pôr-do-sol com esperança de um dia seguinte?
- A primeira. – responde sem hesitação.
- Imagina que o pôr-do-sol representa todas as coisas boas da vida: apaixonares-te, realizares os teus sonhos, gargalhadas com os amigos, fazer o que se gosta, ter um filho… estas são as coisas que nos dão vontade de continuar a batalhar na existência que não solicitamos, na dor que não queremos, no sofrimento alheio…
- Que profundo! Acho que encontras-te petróleo! – brinco.
- Então não digas aos Americanos. – responde o meu amigo num tom monocordico.
- Possivelmente eles iriam fazer um buraco em Espanha a achar que estavam no sitio certo…
- E a versão oficial para os media seria “A libertação do povo espanhol da ditadura!” enquanto soldados Americanos queimavam revistas como a “Hola!” com a cara da Letizia.
- Se Portugal fosse uma monarquia, votava na Julia Pinheiro para ser Rainha! – exclamo com alegria.
- Como assim?! A sucessão, por direito, é daquele senhor do bigode, que parece estar sempre engripado, e dos filhos que nada se parecem com ele.
- E está sempre engripado. Ele mora em Bragança! Lá faz sempre frio!
- Isso é um mito! É como a história de que no Algarve está sempre sol.
- Touché! – fico sem assunto.
Uns segundos de silêncio entre nós.
- Olha, - quebra o meu amigo – daqui a pouco tenho de me ir embora. Tenho de ir dar comida ao meus porquinhos da India.
- Não podes alimentá-los depois da meia-noite!!
- Isso são os Mogwais! E eles não existem!
- Tu também lhes chamas “Porquinhos da India” e vocês moram na Bobadela.
- Mas vamos mudar de casa em breve… - responde o meu amigo num tom arrogante.
- Se precisares de ajuda, diz! – ofereço.
- Claro! Obrigado.
- Então vamos! – levanto-me – Trouxeste o saco para o lixo?
- Não… Esqueci!
Encolhemos os ombros em silêncio e fomos embora.
- Adeus D.Clotilde! Até à próxima! – despedimo-nos em coro.