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UMA VIDA EM SEGREDO





Autor: Autran Dourado
Título: UMA VIDA EM SEGREDO, A HIDDEN LIFE
Idiomas: port, eng
Tradutor: Edgar H. Miller(eng)
Data: 26/12/2004

UMA VIDA EM SEGREDO

1


Autran Dourado

Quem deu a idéia de trazer prima Biela para a cidade foi Constança. Deixa, Conrado, traz ela cá para casa, disse. Biela fica morando com a gente, pode até me ajudar com as meninas, fazer companhia. Olha, quando você vai para a roça, tem dias que eu sinto uma falta danada de alguém para conversar. De noite, então… Tem Mazília, se limitou Conrado na resposta. Mazília, disse ela, ainda é menina. Já é mocinha, disse Conrado, de pouca conversa.
A princípio Conrado não deu muito ouvido, tinha outra coisa em mente. A ele, como homem, competia decidir. Ainda mais agora, tutor e testamenteiro. Era calado, ordeiro, sério, compenetrado.
As vezes punha a questão em forma de pergunta, mas não era para a mulher responder, ela sabia: mais uma forma de pensar alto. Quem sabe não era melhor mandá-la para o convento das freiras, lá em Ubá? Ela podia dar um bom dote, e depois a herança, as freiras a aceitariam logo com gosto.
Constança, que não percebeu que o marido estava apenas pensando, ou fez que não percebeu, ponderou, não ia dar certo, Biela não tinha com certeza nem cartilha nem Trajano, nem educação direito, criada lá na roça, só com o pai, homem fechado e meio maníaco, que nunca saía do Fundão. E já era moça velha, para aprender. As freiras não aceitariam.
Não digo pra ser freira, disse Conrado esquecido de que estava apenas pensando. Que não sei nem se ela tem vocação. Pra morar lá com elas. Depois, quem sabe? se lhe desse vontade, podia até ser irmã serva ou leiga, sei lá como elas dizem. Pode prestar serviço. Constança, senhora da brecha que o marido abria na sua decisão, disse não fica bem, o que é que vão dizer de nós, de você que foi nomeado tutor e testamenteiro, mandar ela para longe, quando tem tanto lugar aqui em casa?
Conrado não gostava da idéia. A mulher não conhecia a prima, não sabia como ela era, como eram seus hábitos. Capaz de não dar certo. Moça criada na roça, sem mãe desde cedo, com suas maneiras lá dela, talvez não se desse bem morando na cidade com eles. Ele mesmo mal a conhecia, só vira a prima umas duas ou três vezes, quando tinha ido à Fazenda do Fundão tratar de uns negócios de gado com o primo Juvêncio Fernandes. Primo Juvêncio era seu primo por parte de pai. Se lembrava da primeira vez que viu Biela. Prima Biela só o cumprimentou porque primo Juvêncio disse vem cá dar bom dia pro primo. Ela o cumprimentou arisca meio de longe, estendendo-lhe as pontas dos dedos, os olhos no chão. Depois saiu ligeira para os fundos da casa, não apareceu mais. E a prima? disse ao se despedir, já no cavalo. Deixa pra lá, tem dessas esquisitices de ausência de moça solteira, desculpou o pai. Mas não está certo, foi Conrado pensando enquanto calcava de leve as esporas nos vazios do cavalo. Criar moça assim tão sozinha, desde menina, sem nenhuma mulher mais velha para gerir. Primo Juvêncio, quando prima Gasparina morreu, devia ter tomado de novo estado, ou vindo com a menina para a cidade. Mas não, primo Juvêncio era de outros tempos. Cismado, meio louco-manso-enfezado nas suas opiniões, ficou para sempre reinando sozinho no território do Fundão. O primo era de umas ausências de vista estranhas, ficava olhando enviesado uns longes para além dos cimos. Tinha até, de raro em raro, uns ataques de repelão e espuma, diziam que ficou bom no fim da vida, com umas ervas de seu Querêncio Gouveia. Conrado no fundo tinha medo, a coisa podia se repetir na filha Biela, essas histórias de herança de corpo e da alma. Nada, tem disso não, procurava se acalmar, histórias de gente sem oficio e ocupação. Depois, nunca tinha ouvido dizer nada de prima Biela, vocês sabem como estas coisas correm.
Conrado não gostava da idéia, cismarento. Pesava no prato de sua decisão uma razão muito escondida, que ele não queria nem pensar: primo Juvêncio Fernandes deixou escrito, foi o que explicou o tabelião, que o usufruto dos bens seria dele, enquanto Biela estivesse em sua guarda, menor que era, como convinha. Esta parte ele não contou a ninguém, nem à mulher, para que Constança não o ajudasse a pensar claro demais.
Conrado não gostava da idéia mas acabou cedendo. No fundo já se decidira, quaisquer que fossem as conseqüências. Agora era arranjar as razões de espírito, para a alma quieta, tranqüila, no remanso. Não foi difícil, as artimanhas, os esconde-escondes da alma. Afinal não era sua prima? Juvêncio não lhe queria tanto, não tinha tanta confiança nele, não o encarregara de tudo em testamento e por boca? Da Fazenda do Fundão, do dinheiro no banco, dos títulos e jóias de prima Gasparina. Depois, tinha as suas vantagens ela ficar morando com eles – podia, com ela perto, cuidar melhor de seus negócios, ouvi-la nas suas vontades, ver juntos o que iam fazer da Fazenda do Fundão. A Fazenda do Fundão era de muitos e muitos alqueires de terra. Tudo terra boa, terra roxa de café. Os cafezais eram velhos, é verdade, mas havia ainda muita terra livre, pastos sem fim, o gado, muito gado. Conrado fazia o arrolamento, pensava e repensava. Com ela perto, seria mais fácil defender os interesses de prima Biela. Depois, Constança queria tanto, fazia tanto gosto, alvoroçada com a novidade.
Está bem, disse ele, que já tinha concordado com a idéia da mulher mas não queria dar parte de fraco; vou pensar e depois que eu decidir, a gente se fala. Constança se alegrou, sabia que vencera. Não disse nada, escondeu a alegria, conhecia Conrado, respeitava-o, sabia como lidar com ele.
Daí a uns dias Conrado mandou arrear a besta Gaúcha, encher os alforjes, e foi buscar prima Biela na Fazenda do Fundão.
A chegada de Biela marcou época para os meninos. Mazília, Gilda, Fernanda, Alfeu e Silvino ficavam impacientes, toda hora chegando na janela para ver o pai apontar no fim da rua: a sua grande figura na besta Gaúcha toda branca, leve e firme, os peitos largos e trotando, o melhor animal de sela da Fazenda do Quebra. De vez em quando, a própria Constança chegava para ver se já vinham vindo. Tudo pronto, o quarto da sala onde ficaria prima Biela preparado, ela também se impacientava com a chegada.
Só chegaram lá pela tardinha.
E vem eles, gritou Alfeu para dentro de casa, chamando os outros, que tinham desistido de esperar. As meninas se atropelaram para ver quem chegava primeiro e garantia melhor lugar na janela, de onde podiam ver bem o pai na besta Gaúcha e a prima Biela num cavalo que não sabiam como era.
Alfeu e Silvino na verdade se preocupavam mais com a besta Gaúcha, gostavam de cavalos, queriam saber como era a montaria da prima. Já imaginavam que poderiam no outro dia sair para umas voltas pela cidade e pelos matos ali por perto, cavalgando desabalados. As meninas é que cuidavam mais da figura de prima Biela. Queriam saber como era o jeito dela, os modos de moça fazendeira, os vestidos dela. Faziam planos, preparavam conversas, urdiam as histórias que haviam de contar, muito perguntadeiras.
O pai vinha na frente. O vulto alto, o chapelão para trás, senhor do animal, bom cavaleiro.
Os meninos desceram para a rua, queriam ser os primeiros a ver; queriam, já montados, levar os animais para dentro do quintal, ajudar Gomercindo a desencilhar.
A besta Gaúcha trotava grande, bem balanceado, branca, o peito empinado, batendo picado os cascos ferrados de pouco. O pai deixava o corpo seguir o molejo da besta. Mais perto puderam ver que apressava o passo. Como o pai fazia quando desejava que Gaúcha trotasse ligeiro: esporeava em pequenos arrancos os vazios do animal. Mais atrás, na poeira do pai, o cavalo de prima Biela, um pampa meio ronceiro. O corpo malhado, vermelho e branco, a cara branca. Se o pai deixasse, Alfeu, que era o mais velho, ficaria com a Gaúcha e Silvino com o pampa.
Olha ela, disse Fernanda, a menorzinha, para as irmãs, apontando a prima que chegava da Fazenda do Fundão.
E viram como prima Biela, para alcançar o trote da besta Gaúcha, batia desajeitada e deselegante o chicote nas ancas do cavalo malhado. Não disseram nada, olharam apenas meio desiludidas a figura miúda e socada que vinha encilhada no cavalo pampa, debaixo de uma sombrinha vermelha desbotada.
Enquanto os meninos seguravam as rédeas dos animais que impavam resfolegantes, cansados da caminhada de muitas léguas, o pai procurou ajudar Biela a descer do silhão. Não foi preciso, ela fez que não queria, de um salto estava no chão. Meio cambaleante ainda, primeiro cuidou de ajeitar as pregas da saia de chitão amarrotada; depois verificou se os botões da blusa estavam nas suas casas; finalmente alisou os cabelos pretos empoeirados que tinham escapulido do coque. Compunha um tanto envergonhada, num recato medido de quem queria aparentar bem, a sua figura. Em nenhum momento ergueu o olhar para as janelas onde as meninas se apinhavam, para Constança. Como os pés procuravam se acostumar ao chão, os olhos baixos também buscavam raízes na terra.
As meninas repararam em tudo: a sombrinha vermelha desbotada de cabo comprido, as botinas de cordão que apareceram quando ela saltou do cavalo, a saia muito comprida quase se arrastando no chão, a blusa de botõezinhos fechada até pescoço, os gestos todos que ela fez. Não viram a cara, que ela trazia sempre baixa. Mas viram o coque grosso, baixo, de longas tranças, empoeirado.
Constança, gritou o pai já na porta da sala, a prima chegou. Vai entrando, a casa é sua, voltou-se para trás.
Parada na soleira da porta, prima Biela esperava, esperava não sabia o quê, assustada feito súbito um animal pára na estrada, estranhando.
(…).

_______________________

Fonte: DOURADO, Autran. Uma vida em segredo. 12a.ed. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves, 1990. p. 29-36.

A HIDDEN LIFE

1


Autran Dourado

It was Constança’s idea to bring Cousin Biela to the city.
“ Look, Conrado, bring her here to the house,” she said. “Biela can live with us. She can even help me with the children, keep me company. You know, when you go to the farm there are times when I want to talk to somebody so badly I don’t know what to do. And at night…”
“ You have Mazília,” Conrado replied.
“ Mazília,” she said, “is still a little girl.”
“ She’s already a young lady,” replied Conrado, who was not given to talking much.
At first, Conrado didn’t pay much attention to the idea. He had something else in mind. It was up to him, as man of the house, to make the decision. Even more so because he was guardian and executor of the will. He was quiet, peaceable, serious, responsible.
Sometimes he put it as a question, though his wife should have known that it wasn’t meant for her to answer. It was more a way of thinking aloud. “Don’t you think it would be better to send her to the convent over in Ubá? She could give a good dowry and later her whole inheritance. The sisters would be happy to take her.”
Constança, who didn’t realize that her husband was only thinking aloud (or at least she acted as if she did not realize it), said she did not think it would work out. Biela had not had any formal education, she hadn’t even learned her ABC’s, being raised out there in the country with only her father, a sullen, half-crazy man who never left Fundão. And she was already too old to be learning. The sisters wouldn’t accept her.
“ I don’t mean to become a nun,” Conrado said, forgetting he was only thinking aloud. “I don’t even know if she has the calling for it. I mean to live there with them. Later… Who knows? If she wanted to, perhaps she could even become a lay sister, or whatever it is they call them. She could help them out.”
Constança, master of the breech her husband had opened in his decision-making, said it wouldn’t be good.
“ What are they going to say about us, about you as guardian and executor, if we send her way off when we have so much room here at home?”
Conrado didn’t like the idea. His wife didn’t know what his cousin was like, didn’t know her habits. It was likely not to work out. A young girl raised in the country, without a mother since she was a baby, with those manners of hers. Perhaps she wouldn’t be able to adapt to life in the city with them. He himself didn’t know her well. He had only seen his cousin two or three times when he had gone to Fundão Farm to work out a cattle deal with Juvêncio Fernandes, a cousin on his father’s side. He recalled the first time he had seen Biela. Cousin Biela had only greeted him because Cousin Juvêncio told her to “come over and say good morning to your cousin.” She shook hands shyly without getting too close, giving him the tips of her fingers, eyes downcast. Then she ran quickly to the rear of the house and didn’t come back. He had asked about her again when he was already on his horse, ready to leave.
“ Oh, don’t bother about her. She has the peculiarities of an unmarried girl,” her father explained.
But it’s not right, Conrado had thought as he gently dug his spurs into the flanks of his horse, to bring up a girl from infancy that way, in such loneliness, without any older woman to guide her.
After Cousin Gasparina died, Cousin Juvêncio should have married again or brought the girl to town to live. But no, Cousin Juvêncio was of other times. Moody, half-crazy, narrow-minded, he stayed there reigning alone over the territory of Fundão. He used to get strange looks in his eyes. He would stare as if he were looking beyond the far-off mountains. He even had some occasional attacks with convulsions and foamed at the mouth. They said he was cured toward the end of his life by some herbs from Querêncio Gouveia. Conrado was afraid this would repeat itself in the daughter, Biela. He had heard stories of heredity in the body and the soul. There is nothing to this, he thought, trying to calm himself. These are stories from people who don’t really have any way to know what they are talking about. And he had never heard of anything like that in Cousin Biela. You know how these things get around.
Conrado did not like the idea at all. Weighing heavily in his decision was a reason he kept carefully hidden, one about which he didn’t even wish to think. Cousin Juvêncio Fernandes had left it written, the probate clerk had explained, that the use and profit of his estate would be Conrado’s as long as he needed them while Biela was under his care, minor that she was. He didn’t tell this to anybody, not even his wife, because he didn’t want Constança to help him think too clearly.
Conrado didn’t like the idea, but in the end he gave in. At heart he had already decided, whatever the consequences. Now he had to arrange the reasons of the spirit so that the soul could be quieted, stilled, lulled. It wasn’t too hard to justify it in the depths of his soul. Didn’t Juvêncio like him that much? Didn’t he have that much confidence in him? Didn’t he charge him with everything, both in the will and by word of mouth? Everything. From Fundão Farm to the money in the bank, the bonds, and Cousin Gasparina’s jewels. Of course there were some advantages to having Biela live with them. With her close by, he could take better care of her business, hear her wishes, plan with her what to do about Fundão Farm. The farm had many, many acres of land. All of it was good land, coffee land. The coffee trees were old, it’s true, but there was still a lot of unused land, pasture without end, and cattle, a lot of cattle. Conrado would make the inventory, think it over again and again. With Cousin Biela nearby, it would be easier to protect her interests. And Constança would like it so much. It would make her very happy. She would be all aflutter with the novelty.
“ Very well,” he said. He had already agreed with his wife’s idea but he didn’t want to appear weak. “I’ll think about it and then I’ll decide. We will talk about it.”
Constança was happy. She knew she had won. She said nothing, hid her happiness. She knew Conrado, respected him, knew how to get along with him.
A few days later, Conrado ordered his horse, Gaúcha, saddled, filled his saddlebags, and rode off to get Biela at Fundão Farm.
Biela’s arrival was a big event for the children. Mazília, Gilda, Fernanda, Alfeu, and Silvino waited impatiently, running to the window every few minutes to see if their father had turned into their street, his grand figure astride Gaúcha, solid white, light and firm, her chest wide. She was the best saddle animal from Quebra Farm. Occasionally, Constança herself would go to see if they were coming. Everything was ready. The room in which Biela would stay was prepared. Constança also grew impatient for the arrival.
It was late when they arrived.
“ There they come!” Alfeu shouted into the house, calling the others, who had already given up watching. The girls fell over one another trying to see who could reach the window first and get the best place to see their father on Gaúcha and Cousin Biela on a horse they had never seen.
Alfeu and Silvino actually were more interested in seeing the horse Gaúcha. They liked horses. They wanted to see what kind of horse their cousin was riding. They already were imagining how they would go out for a ride the next day for a few turns around town and in the nearby countryside, riding with the wind. The girls were more concerned about Cousin Biela’s looks. They wanted to see what she was like, see the style of the farm girl, her dresses. They made plans, imagined conversations, spun the stories they had to tell, thought of many questions to ask.
Their father rode in front, sitting tall, hat pushed back, master of his animal, a good horseman.
The boys ran down to the street. They wanted to be the first to see. They wanted to mount the horses and take them into the yard and help Gomercindo unsaddle them.
Gaúcha trotted grandly, well balanced, white, chest out, her newly shod hoofs beating out a staccato rhythm. Conrado let his body move with the motion of the horse. As he drew closer they could see him step up the pace. As he did when he wanted Gaúcha to trot faster, he spurred the animal’s flanks with short jabs. Farther back, in his dust, came Cousin Biela’s horse, a rather sluggish cow pony. It was a red and white pinto with a white face. If their father would let them, Alfeu, who was the eldest, would take Gaúcha and Silvino could have the pony.
“ There she is,” cried Fernanda, the youngest, to her sisters, pointing to the cousin who was arriving from Fundão Farm. And they saw Cousin Biela trying to keep up with Gaúcha, clumsily and inelegantly beating the riding crop on the rump of the pinto horse. They said nothing. They watched, a little disillusioned, the small, squat figure approaching on the cow pony under a faded red parasol.
While the boys held the reins of the horses, panting and tired from the long journey, their father tried to help Biela down from the saddle. It wasn’t necessary. She indicated that she didn’t want help, and with a leap was on the ground. Still reeling a little, she first tried to adjust her rumpled calico skirt. Then she made sure all the buttons on her blouse were buttoned. Finally she tried to smooth down the dusty black strands of hair which had escaped from their bun. She acted a little embarrassed, with the measured shyness of someone wanting to look well. She never lifted her eyes to look at the windows where the girls had stationed themselves, or to Constança. As her feet sought to adjust to the ground, her lowered eyes seemed to seek the roots in the earth.
The girls saw everything, the faded red parasol with the long handle, the high-topped, laced shoes that appeared when she jumped from the horse, the long skirt that almost dragged the ground, the blouse buttoned to the neck, the gestures she made. They didn’t see her face because she always looked down. But they saw the thick bun low at the back of her head. It was made of long braids and covered with dust.
“ Constança,” yelled the father at the door of the living room, “our cousin is here! Come on in. Make yourself at home.” She turned around.
At the doorsill, Cousin Biela stopped. She didn’t know why but she froze like an animal suddenly startled on the road.
(…).

__________________

Fonte: DOURADO, Autran. A hidden life. Translated by Edgar H. Miller, Jr. New York: Knopf, 1969. p. 3-11.



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