Short Stories

The sweetness

Anita sells the sweetness in jars.

Fill them with fruit jam, cover them and stick them on a label, but instead of writing this or that jam, blueberries or peach, quince or strawberry, round the letter and just write Sweetness. He sits on the sidewalk with the flasks in front of him, exposed on the asphalt at his feet, and no shortage of customers. The jam sells very well and no one comes back to complain: the buyer thinks the sweetness is all in Anita’s eyes.

So Anita sells the sweetness in her eyes and the sweetness that she packs in the glass jars. That’s what you do, sitting on the sidewalk in front of Sucupira Market, at least since you gave up writing poems. At school, Anita’s teacher never tired of bragging about the delicacy of the compositions she wrote. The teacher ordered the children to write a composition about this or that, about spring or about the islet in front of Gamboa Bay, and what Anita did was always the same: she wrote on the top of the sheet the word Composition with that same indecisive letter and a small one today who can write Sweetness on the labels of candy jars – and then let her head take her away, into the impalpable world of things written on the pages of books.

She wrote about impenetrable woods and verdant mountains, beautiful medieval warriors, and very high-rise cities, even though there was none of the things she described on the island, so she had never seen any woods, any alpine landscapes, or a prince of her own. . And one day, more than bragging about her composition and stroking her carapinha, the teacher said:

“One day you’ll still be a poet, Anita.”

And Anita could imagine that she was a poet, writing books like the ones she liked to read at night, when the light was lacking on the beach and the city was once again lit only by lamps and candles. So he grew up thinking that one day he would write beautiful poems and phrases about his island and that children from other parts of the world would read what he wrote and dream of the warm bay where sometimes the full moon comes to date. sea ​​- just as I, being far away, see Anita without even seeing her.

I’m in a place in the north of the world, in winter, far from the sea, in a tall gray building, just like Anita imagines when she has to write a composition about The City. I don’t see, from where I am, the Sucupira Market, or this Lisbon Avenue on whose sidewalk Anita sits to sell Sweetness. In this window, facing only the twin windows of a similar building, I lean against the glass of the balcony and guess the cold outside (all the cold seems to me a lot since the wicked day when summer ends). I invent the cold and shrink further into my body.

It is here, however, that, leaning against the glass that separates me from winter, I expect the warm ray that the sun sheds as it rises above the shadowy mass of city buildings. Then, for a moment, I close my eyes, forget about winter, and imagine it’s still summer, that the town outside is Praia, and that Anita has been sitting on the promenade selling Sweetness since the day she knew she wouldn’t be a poet.

I envy her now, sometimes I get upset at the sweetness she keeps and the way she has to give it to the world, sitting there on the paved sidewalk of Avenida de Lisboa: she shakes an old magazine in front of her chest to cool off and puts her hand in pala before the eyes (so that the sun does not melt the sugar in them). The other people pass by and see Anita selling Sweetness in jars. Many stop to buy: some take only the jam, others come for the immense sweetness that is in the girl’s eyes, for the huge smile that her face draws.

I, who don’t see Anita, clearly see her laugh, the white scarf Anita has wrapped around her head, the pink shirt, the gold hoops on her ears, the cheetah skirt, the plastic slipper that houses it. her feet. I even imagine that sometimes Anita throws a shy trading floor in the air

– My sweetheart to the house

that traffic noise drowns out. That when she returns home after selling all the jars, Anita will take the money tightly in her hand, firmly happy to have sold all the jam – and sad that she could not be a poet. He walks with his head up slowly, as if his gait were a pause between the fast pace of one’s footsteps and the hasty coming of the footsteps of others.

He does not listen to the boys’ piropos, he does not hear the noise of the city: he is inventing poems that he will never write, because soon the mother explained to him that

– It is not poet who wants, it is poet who life leaves. Poor poetry is food on the table to fill belly.

When night comes and there is no light on the beach, when the hum of electrical things ceases and you can hear the murmur of the earth and the whispers of the neighborhood, Anita leans in the window of the house and gazes at the brief streak of stars. She imagines unwritten poems and invents snowy landscapes, beautiful Creole princes mounted on sorrel, high-rise cities where everyone knows each other by name and greets each other late in the evening when they return home – everything can be seen in the stars in front of their bedroom window. Anita

While there, waiting for the bright spots of the night to sort out and invent worlds, Anita thinks she is still a poet, the poems with which she imagines Creole princes and huge cities of glass and steel. She dreams of the books she would write if she were not a poor girl, and life had allowed the old master’s prediction to materialize.

(- One day you will still be a poet, Anita)

Sometimes, thinking about this, Anita still gets sad. Looking at it from my window of the country where it is almost always winter, I see that the stars are reflected in the dew of her eyes. I see this and I get upset. From far away I close my eyes and whisper softly the only truth that exists – so she can hear it: that there is no greater poem in the whole world than to see her, sitting on the sidewalk, selling the Sweetness in the jars. And in the eyes. Manuel Jorge Marmelo The pleasure of reading Joint edition of FNAC / Theorem published on the occasion of World Book Day 23 April 2007 (excerpts) [ 19459002]

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