Bedtime story # 1

This story was written for my father. He was only 48 years old when he died.

The little boy fell from the tree and broke his arm. A not very careful doctor put his arm in a cast without cleaning the wound, which got infected. “Don’t be a little sissy, boy! It can’t be hurting that bad!” He ended up losing the bone and couldn’t move his right hand anymore. “Now you have to learn how to be a left-handed”. He not only learned how to write with his left hand, but also how to draw and paint. He grew up and went to Fine Arts College. He became a painter. The boy, who was not that little anymore, admired the Cubism – mainly Picasso’s – and also Dali’s surrealism. He stopped dreaming about the Universe’s fragmented reality when he got married and moved to a surrealist flat. Then, he had a daughter and when he saw the price of a can of milk he realized that he had to become a responsible worker. He got a job as a print designer in a fabric factory.  It’s a pity that, at that time, the only thing a print designer could do was to copy everything from Europe – or from any more developed world – rarely being able to add his own artistic view. His dream was being a hippie, painting and travelling the world. “Bullshit! You are a father now!” So, he started doing what was – and is – expected from a good husband and father. He would go to work every day in the morning, and at the end of the day he would relax in a bar and drink some beer.  He became an alcohol addicted: not a violent one, but a passive one. The more his wife complained, more silent and drunk he became. He had sacrificed his dreams of being an artist to be a father, but he failed. The frustrated dream, the alcohol and his shyness prevented him of being a parent. He had two more kids, innocent little boys like the one he had been one day, but his innocence was lost forever. He would never recover that little boy dreaming on a tree. He couldn’t find that brave kid that had beaten the adversity of losing the movement of his hand. He just got caught by the flow of his life: work, boredom, alcohol; just like a cow being conducted to a slaughterhouse. The more he drank, the bigger was the resemblance: yellow eyes, tame look; it was almost like he was always chewing his tongue. He got sick: diabetes, ulcer, liver cirrhosis, mal-functioning kidney. “If he stops drinking he may live one more year.”  That was impossible! His brother and his cousins had already being in the same situation and all of them had failed. But he succeeded. He never drank alcohol again. Of course, it was too late. He retired because of his diseases and lived not one but four more years – most of them in hospital. When he was at home he started painting again. The dreamy little boy slowly came back. He would paint the whole day. His paints didn’t make him famous – even after his death. With all the damage, his death was inevitable. But it was softened by his art. Not “the Art” with capital A, like Picasso’s and Dali’s. But the art of being able to live average dreams, in a world where reality takes down little boys from the trees and places stupid doctors to see them. Where artists become workers; parents become socially accepted alcoholics and men become suicidals.

Oil on canvas
Plinio Brandão de Oliveira

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