I'm posting this in the language I wrote it, more because translating it for the √-1 Brazilian readers would not make the text better, unfortunately. There's no way to save this, I think, but nevertheless I'll try it by returning to the original version, written on Dec. 28 of last year and on Jan. 1st this year, in Gaithersburg MD (or Washington DC, to sound more fancy). Actually, the first thing I did this year (besides going to bed after the New Year's party and waking up some hours later, I mean) was rewriting the conclusion of the story, which is possibly the only alteration worthy of survival.
I wrote this in English because it was meant to be read at a diplomatic reception in the Embassy of Tokelau, the country that, as you may be aware, kindly gave me the free domain www.hipermnesiahipnagogica.tk . However, I found it better to stick to a poem by the good old Vinicius de Moraes, although someone would have to pay the consequences of such wise deed: it is you, my reader, who will be forced to place your eyes on this mumble-jumble. Sorry about that.
(Comments here or elsewhere comparing the present text with the style of a certain Brazilian author well-known abroad will be carefully read, but I reserve the right to erase such comments in order to protect my reputation. Thank you.)
Once upon a time, a young couple lived in a small town lost in the vicinity of a coffee plantation in Southeastern Brazil. He worked for the plantation, transporting coffee to the big city. His wife worked at a small local market.
Because a trip to the big city took at least three days each way, the man would often spend long periods away from his wife. In the big city he drank frequently, getting on fights with British seamen, and requesting the services of "ladies of weak morals," as they used to be called. Back at home, he would spend his free time drinking alone. The bruises and marks he left on his wife's skin made her pray to God for her husband to be killed in one of his sojourns.
And so it happened that once, returning from the big city, the man was stopped by a jagunço with only one eye, and a red cross on his chest. The jagunço stole all the money earned from the sale of coffee, took the man's horse and cart, and wanted to take his life as well. The man begged for his mercy, saying that he had a wife and children to take care of (a half-lie, since the man had no children). The jagunço then replied:
- You'd better take really good care of your family. I'll spare your life. Make good use of it, otherwise, don't doubt it, our paths will cross again. Now, go!
And, walking, it took the man two days more than usual to arrive in town. He crossed the small square in front of the church at dusk. A small town fair was being prepared. He went home. His wife was at the spinning wheel, at the corner where she would often hide from him. He said:
- Let's go out and dance. Get ready.
There was a faint smile on the corner of his lips. She took the dress she had just knitted and put it on silently. She brushed her hair and painted her eyelids. The couple went to the crowded square, which was shining with the yellow lamps of the food tents. There they danced. The neighbors, accustomed to hearing the woman's yelps and the man's shouts, heard only their laughter. The priest, a red cross on his chest, covered up his only eye, condamning the indecency being portrayed in front of the church.
But the couple did not pay heed to that. They danced until the sun shone forth and, as they looked around them, they saw, not the empty sleeping town, but the spinning wheel, which was sweetly echoing the waltz that the woman had been whispering all night, as she knitted the clothes for her husband, who - she would find out in the morning, after another whole night of fearful vigil - had been killed on the road by a jagunço, a couple of days before.