I was just reflecting and saw that the admirer reflects his character in the people he admires. The character of idols is in the admirer. Even if he does not perform the great deeds of his idols, this admiration reveals the man who admires them. Thus, whoever raises Mussolini to the rank of a great man is either a fascist or sympathizer of fascism. In his admiration it reveals itself. Anyone who admires Marx is a communist or a leftist or a democrat. And anyone who admires Machado de Assis and his dictionary, José Carlos Ruy, just like them, would love, if God were a friend, to do a similar work. And who, on a miserable and mediocre scale, admires Bolsonaro, just as the criminal reveals his own ignorance and fascism.
These reflections come to me regarding the character of the fighters against the Brazilian dictatorship. And not to go on too long, I highlight excerpts from my novel The longest duration of youthwhose title is a promise that I hope to have, in happiness, who knows maybe, realized.
To the excerpts:
– But what are the difficulties for the victory of socialism, comrade?
– Keep it down, mate – Célio whispers, between his teeth, behind.
Selene stares at him, on the verge of sending him a ray. But she smothers the fulmination, and without answering him she continues in a minor tone:
– What are our difficulties in the face of the heroism of the Viet Cong?
So I, like a petty-bourgeois converted to the new gospel, to the passionate preaching of the revolution, I ask already conquered:
– What can I do?
Selene looks at me and answers quickly:
– Buy me some soup.
I order and pay one. And one more beer for us. But when calling the waiter, Célio intervenes:
– I’ll trade my beer for a soup. Could it be?
– Of course, you can – and I say to myself: ‘my Saturday movie is gone’.
When the soup arrives, dense, with noodles and meat, Selene applauds it. The waiter smiles at the hungry girl. She also smiles at the waiter. Then, with the spoon that goes to the plate and returns in very brief intervals of time, she tells us, delighted:
– No soup, no revolution…
So the lawyer Gardênia will note from the interview with Vargas: ‘He was a romantic, naive type’. What did that mean? There in the room he is embodied for her: with open arms, Vargas protects his partner and daughter. In the lawyer’s diary: ‘I talked to him about running away, which he refused saying he wouldn’t do that, because he was looking after the safety of his daughter and wife’. And Vargas, in the defense without weapons, in the imagination that he can give to people of his extreme affection, records the lawyer’s diary: ‘I asked him to leave the little child in my care. He told me that he wasn’t going to take Nelinha on an adventure, because she was a fragile person, and she would also be murdered. Then it was worse, because the girl would be an orphan, with no one’.
At this point, we caught the person, the courage and terror of Vargas: the awareness that he will be killed. But not just shot dead, by bullet. Died after intense torture and suffering. This is where the sore point comes in, he knows that he will soon be brutalized if he stays in Recife. But he does not want his wife to accompany him, in case of escape or postponement of execution. If he’s the damned, why attract, share hell with the one he loves?
– Run, run, Vargas. The time to escape is now – says the lawyer.
But he, the ‘naive romantic’ man, doesn’t want to. From a distance we can see the cold logic of heroism rather than romanticism, I think. Lawyer Gardênia attributes him the quality of romantic because he absolutely defends the physical integrity of his partner. A love affair, perhaps. And she adds the naïve, because he refuses to accept the practical offer of the real world, namely: to flee, to save himself, so that later, in safety, he can assess the damage he leaves. But we are not prepared to see greatness the instant it occurs. Or rather, we only see the big when it impacts us in a barbaric way. For example, Gregório Bezerra being beaten with iron blows to the head in the streets of Recife. In his haughty endurance we see. But we don’t see that heroism comes before tragedy. In the decision that precedes the outcome we do not see greatness. Vargas himself, at that moment when he opens his arms in Gardenia’s apartment, sees nothing exceptional. He only acts to defend people from his love, he only acts for justice. He will not bring his dear companion and his Krupskaya to disgrace. He will not allow them to take greater risks than living with a ‘terrorist’. And he softens his own bravery with a prosaic formula:
– Maybe they won’t even get me now. It’s time for me to sell books ordered by schools. With the commission money, I run away. Do you understand, doctor? But keep my documents. If the situation tightens, they’re already with you.
Shakes the lawyer’s hand and leaves. She goes down the stairs to better reflect, as if in the time between the fourth floor and the ground floor there was an increase of life. And he stops in the intermediate sections, delaying his time, until he reaches the entrance and leaves for Rua Sete de Setembro. Now, it’s the real world without further philosophical discussion. And the real ones are him, Daniel and Fleury…
:: Ten films to understand the military dictatorship in Brazil ::
The horror of the deaths in 1973 is the portrait of his last physical moment. It’s not fair to sum up a human life like that. On one animal we feel the brutality: ‘The calf kept fighting. His head was bald and red, with white veins, and he remained where the butchers had left him. His skin hung on both sides. The calf did not stop fighting. Then another butcher grabbed him by one leg, broke it and cut it. The remaining belly and legs were still quivering. They also cut off the remaining hooves and threw them where the hooves of one of the owners’ steers were thrown. Then they dragged the bull to the winch and there they crucified it; there was no more movement’. If this infamy masterfully narrated by Tolstoy hurts us when we think of cattle, what shall we say of people in the slaughterhouse?
I think of Vargas and his sacrifice, the heroism that no one noticed. Killed like another ox, any slaughtered cattle. If we don’t eat his flesh, we eat his greatness, because we defecate him in new brutality. Where is Vargas, where to look for Vargas? Is he in the lawyer Gardênia’s office when she proposes escape, that he run and disappear before he is killed, and he refuses because Nelinha was too fragile? Is he on the bus, when he struggles feverishly with a glimpse of his last hour, of which he is sure, and yet he walks towards it? ‘Nelinha is saved’, he tells himself. ‘She will continue to live. She and my little girl continue. Come on, cursed ones’. And in that, when also expressing the crudeness of his isolation, since he was not ‘organized’, without direct ties to a clandestine organization, where to look for the terrorist Vargas? In this way he stayed ahead, as seen by the lawyer Gardênia:
‘Vargas, who I knew a lot, was also at a table, he was wearing a light blue shirt, and he had a bullet hole in his forehead and another in his chest. And a deep stain on the neck, on one side, like a rope, and with the eyes open and the tongue out of the mouth’. Would Vargas have been pulled by rope to the slaughterhouse? They break the tail of the oxen, break the cartilage, so that it can rush to the place where they bleed. Men drag? In the reports of the dictatorship, there is no narration of pain. Liars, they even hide the Cause of death, by hiding injuries, by euphemizing barbarism. All they talk about is a corpse adaptation to the fraud of political repression. It is in these circumstances that the value of the lawyer’s testimony grows, who testified and filled in the gaps, the vacuum of the thanatoscopy reports:
‘Soledad had her eyes wide open, with a very large expression of terror. Her mouth was half open and what impressed me the most was the clotted blood in a large amount. I have the impression that she was killed and she was lying down for some time and they brought her in, and the blood, when it clotted, was trapped in her legs, because it was a large amount. And the fetus was there at her feet, I can’t know how it ended up there, or if it was right there in the morgue where it fell, where it was born, in that horror'”.
*Urariano Mota is a journalist from Recife. author of novels Soledad not Recife, The Renegade Son of God e The longest duration of youth.
**This is an opinion piece. The author’s view does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brazil in fact.
Editing: Nicolau Soares
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