A maçã no escuro

Autor: Clarice Lispector
Título: A maçã no escuro, The Apple in the Dark
Idiomas: port, eng
Tradutor: Gregory Rabassa (eng)
Data: 28/12/2004


Part I

How a man is made

Chapter 1

Clarice Lispector

This tale begins in March on a night as dark as night can get when a person is asleep. The peaceful way in which time was passing could be seen in the high passage of the moon across the sky. Then later on, much deeper into night, the moon too disappeared.
There was nothing now to distinguish Martim’s sleep from the slow and moonless garden. When a man slept so deeply, he came to be the same as that tree standing over there or the hop of a toad in the darkness.
Some of the trees there had grown with rooted leisure until they reached the top of their crowns and the limit of their destiny. Others had burst out of the earth in quick tufts. The flowerbeds had an order about them that was concentrating in a great struggle to achieve some kind of symmetry. Although this order was discernible from up on the balcony of the large hotel, a person standing at the level of the flowerbeds could not make it out. The driveway, detailed in small cut stones, lay between the flowerbeds.
Off in one turn of the drive the Ford had been parked for so long a time that it was already part of the great interwoven garden and its silence.
By day, however, the countryside was different, and the crickets, vibrating hollow and hard, left the entire expanse open, shadow less. All the while there was that dry smell of crumbling stone that daytime has in the country. Yet on that very day Martim had been standing on the balcony, uselessly obedient, so as not to miss anything that was going on. But not very much was going on. Before one’s eyes reached the beginning of the road, which disappeared into the dust suspended in the sunlight, there was only the garden to be contemplated, comprehensible and symmetrical from up on the balcony, tangled and confused when one became part of it – and the man had been playing for two weeks now with what he could remember of it, carefully nurturing it, saving it for eventual use. For any other kind of attention, however, the day was untouchable, like a point designed upon the point itself. The voice of the cricket was the very body of the cricket, and it told nothing. The only advantage of daytime was that in the bright light the car was becoming a little beetle that could easily get to the highway.
But while the man was sleeping, the car was becoming enormous in the way that an idle machine is gigantic. And at night the garden was filled with the secret weaving that darkness lives on, work whose existence is suddenly made clear by fireflies. A certain dampness also betrayed the secret of the work. And night was an element in which life, by becoming strange, became recognizable.
It was on that night that the motor of the car vibrated and reached out to the empty and sleeping hotel. The darkness slowly began to move.
Instead of waking up and listening directly, Martim passed over to the other side of darkness through an even deeper sleep, and there he heard the sound the wheels made as they spat up the dry sand. Then his name was spoken, clearly and cleanly, in some way pleasant to hear. It was the German who had spoken. In his sleep Martim enjoyed the sound of his own name. And then the violent cry of a bird whose wings had been frightened into immobility, the way fright can seem to be joy.
When it became silent within the silence again, Martim was sleeping even farther away. And yet in the depths of his sleep something had echoed with difficulty, trying to organize itself. Until the sound of the car in all of its finest details was repeated in his memory, without any sense, and free from the inconvenience of having to be understood. The idea of the car alerted a soft warning that he did not immediately understand. But now a vague alarm had spread out into the world, and its center of radiation was the man himself: “So me, then,” his body thought, touched with pity. He remained lying down, remotely enjoying it.
The man had arrived at the hotel two weeks before, finding it in the middle of the night with almost no surprise. Exhaustion makes everything like that possible. It was an empty hotel, with only the German and the servant, if he was a servant. And for two weeks, while Martim was getting his strength back in almost uninterrupted sleep, the car had remained parked in one of the driveways, its wheels buried in the sand – so motionless, so resistant to the man’s habit of incredulity and his care not to let himself be deceived that Martim had finally ended up feeling that it was at his disposal.
But the truth is that even on that night when he had staggered in – when he had at last let himself drop half dead onto a real bed with real sheets – even then the car had represented the security of new flight, in case the two men should seem to be too curious about the identity of the guest. And he had fallen asleep confidently as if nobody would ever be able to wrest from his firm grasp the imaginary rim of a steering wheel as he clutched the sheet in his hands.
The German, however, had not asked him anything, and the servant, if that was what he was, had scarcely glanced at him. Their reluctance to take him in had not come from any distrust but from the fact that the hotel had not been a hotel for some time – ever since it had been fruitlessly put up for sale, the German had explained to him. And so as not to cause suspicion, Martim had nodded his head, smiling. Before the new highway had been built, cars had passed by there, and the isolated big house could not have been better situated as an obligatory stopping place for the night. When the new highway had been put through thirty miles away, it detoured all the cars that used to pass, and the whole town had died. So there was no reason any more for anyone to have use for a hotel in a place that had been turned over to the winds. But in spite of the apparent indifference of the two men Martim’s obstinate quest for security became tied to that car over which the spiders too had executed their perfect aerial work, which had been tranquilized by all of its varnished immobility.
That was the car that had uprooted itself with a hoarse sound in the middle of the night.
In the silence which was once more intact, the man now stared stupidly at the invisible ceiling, which in the darkness was as high as the sky. Stretched out on his back upon the bed, he tried with an effort of gratuitous pleasure to reconstruct the sound of the wheels, for he did not feel pain, but pleasure in a general way. He could not see the garden from his bed. A little mist was coming in through the open Venetian blinds, and the man could tell that it was there from the smell of damp cotton and from a certain physical yearning for happiness that fog induces. It had only been a dream, then. Skeptical, however, he got up.
In the darkness he could see nothing from the balcony, and he could not even guess the symmetry of the flowerbeds. A few splotches darker than the darkness itself showed the probable location of the trees. The garden remained as nothing but an effort of memory, and the man stared quietly, sleepily. Here and there a firefly made the darkness even vaster.
Having forgotten about the dream that had drawn him out onto the balcony, the man’s body found that it was a pleasant feeling to sense itself in a healthy upright position. The air was in suspension, and the dark position of the leaves was little changed. He let himself stand there, then, docile, bewildered, with the succession of unoccupied rooms behind him. Those empty rooms multiplied themselves until they disappeared off to where the man could no longer see anything more. Martim sighed inside his long waking sleep. Without too much insistence he tried to grasp the notion of the rooms farthest away, as if he himself had grown too large and had spread out too much, and for some reason that he had already forgotten – for some obscure reason – it had become essential to retreat so that he could think or perhaps feel. But he could not get himself to do it, and it was very pleasant. So he stayed there, with the courteous air of a man who has been hit over the head. Until – just as when a clock stops ticking and only thus makes us aware that it had been ticking before – Martim perceived the silence and his own presence within the silence. Then by means of a very familiar lack of comprehension the man at last began to be himself in an indistinct sort of way.
Then things began to get reorganized, beginning with him: the darkness was beginning to be understood, branches were slowly taking shape under the balcony, shadows dividing up into flowers, undefined as yet. With their edges hidden by the quiet lushness of the plants, the flowerbeds were outlined, full and soft. The man grunted approvingly. With some difficulty he had just recognized the garden, which at intervals during those two weeks of sleep had constituted his irreducible vision.
It was at that moment that a faint moon passed out of a cloud in great silence, silently spread itself over the calm stones, and silently disappeared into the darkness. The moonlit face of the man turned then toward the drive where the Ford ought to be standing motionless.
But the car had disappeared.
The man’s entire body suddenly woke up. With a sharp glance his eyes covered the whole darkness of the garden – and without a sign of warning he wheeled around toward his room with the soft leap of a monkey. Nothing was moving, however, in the cavity of the room, which had become enormous in the darkness. The man stood breathing heavily, alert and uselessly fierce, with his hands held in front of him against attack. But the silence of the hotel was the same as that of night. And without visible limits the room prolonged the darkness of the garden with the same exhalation. To wake himself up the man rubbed his eyes several times with the back of one hand while keeping the other one free for defense. His new sensibility was of no use. In the darkness his wide-open eyes could not even see the walls.
It was as if he had been set down alone in the middle of a field. And as if he had finally remembered a long dream in which a hotel, now broken up in pieces on the empty ground, had figured, a car imagined only through desire, and – above all – as if the reason for a man to be all expectant in a place was also a form of expectancy.
All that he had left of reality was the wisdom that had made him take a leap in vague defense, the instinct that was now leading him to calculate with unexpected lucidity that if the German had gone to turn him in, it would take some time for him to get there and return with the police.
Which still left him free temporarily – unless the servant had been assigned to watch him. And in that case the servant, if that is what he was, would at this very moment be outside the door of that very room with his ear alert to the slightest movement on the part of the guest.
That is what he was thinking. And when he stopped his reasoning, which he had reached with the malleability an invertebrate uses to become smaller in order to slip away, Martim plunged into the same previous absence of reason and the same obtuse impartiality, as if nothing had anything to do with him and as if the species would take care of him. Without looking back, guided by a slippery adroitness of movement, he began to climb down the balcony by placing his unexpectedly flexible feet on the outcroppings of the bricks. In his attentive remoteness the man could smell, as if he would never forget it, the malevolent odor of the broken ivy near his face. Now only his spirit was alert, and it could not distinguish between what was and what was not important, and he gave the same scrupulous consideration to every operation.
With a soft jump that made the garden gasp as it held its breath, he found himself right in the middle of a flowerbed, which ruffled up and then closed down. With his body alert the man waited for the message of his jump to be transmitted from secret echo to secret echo, until it would be transformed into distant silence. His thud would end by breaking on the side of some mountain. No one had taught the man to have that intimacy with things that happen at night, but a body knows.
He waited a while longer, until nothing was happening. Only then did he carefully feel for the glasses in his pocket. They were intact. He sighed carefully and finally looked around. The night was delicately vast and dark.


Fonte: LISPECTOR, Clarice. The Apple in the Dark. Transl. from the Portuguese by Gregory Rabassa. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967. p. 3-9.


Primeira Parte
Como se faz um homem

Clarice Lispector

Esta história começa numa noite de março tão escura quanto é a noite enquanto se dorme. O modo como, tranqüilo, o tempo decorria era a lua altíssima passando pelo céu. Até que mais profundamente tarde também a lua desapareceu.
Nada agora diferenciava o sono de Martim do lento jardim sem lua: quando um homem dormia tão no fundo, passava a não ser mais do que aquela árvore de pé ou o pulo do sapo no escuro.
Algumas árvores haviam ali crescido com enraizado vagar até atingir o alto das próprias copas e o limite de seu destino. Outras já haviam saído da terra em bruscos tufos. Os canteiros tinham uma ordem que procurava concentradamente servir a uma simetria. Se esta era discernível do alto da sacada do grande hotel, uma pessoa estando ao nível dos canteiros não descobria essa ordem; entre os canteiros o caminho se pormenorizava em pequenas pedras talhadas.
Sobretudo numa das alamedas o Ford estava parado há tanto tempo que já fazia parte do grande jardim entrelaçado e de seu silêncio.
No entanto, de dia a paisagem era outra, e os grilos vibrando ocos e duros deixavam a extensão inteiramente aberta, sem uma sombra. Enquanto o cheiro era o seco cheiro de pedra exasperada que o dia tem no campo. Ainda nesse mesmo dia Martim ficara de pé na sacada procurando, com inútil obediência, não perder nada do que se passava. Mas o que se passava não era muito: antes de começar a estrada que se perdia em suspensa poeira de sol, apenas o jardim nada mais que contemplável; compreensível e simétrico do alto da sacada; emaranhado quando se fazia parte dele – e esta lembrança o homem há duas semanas guardava nos pés com aplicação cuidadosa, conservando-a para um uso eventual. Por mais atenção, no entanto, o dia era inescalável; e como um ponto desenhado sobre o mesmo ponto, a voz do grilo era o próprio corpo do grilo, e nada informava. A única vantagem do dia é que na extrema luz o carro se tornava um pequeno besouro que facilmente alcançaria a estrada.
Mas enquanto o homem dormia o carro se tornava enorme como é gigantesca uma máquina parada. E de noite o jardim era ocupado pela secreta urdidura com que o escuro se mantém, num trabalho cuja existência os vaga-lumes inesperadamente traem; certa umidade também denunciava o labor. E a noite era um elemento em que a vida, por se tornar estranha, era reconhecível.
Foi nessa noite que, atingindo o hotel vazio e adormecido, o motor do carro se sacudiu. Lentamente o escuro se pusera em movimento.
Em vez de acordar e diretamente ouvir, foi através de um sono ainda mais profundo que Martim passou para o outro lado da escuridão e ouviu o ruído que as rodas fizeram cuspindo areia seca. Depois seu nome foi pronunciado, destacado e limpo, de algum modo agradável de se ouvir. Era o alemão quem falara. No sono Martim fruiu o som do próprio nome. Em seguida o arrebatado grito de uma ave, cujas asas haviam sido espantadas na sua imobilidade, esse modo como o espanto parece com a grande alegria.
Quando o silêncio se refez dentro do silêncio, Martim adormeceu ainda mais longe. Embora no fundo do sono alguma coisa ecoasse difícil, tentando se organizar. Até que, sem nenhum sentido e livre do incômodo de precisar ser compreendido, o ruído do carro se refez na sua memória com as minúcias mais finamente discriminadas. A idéia do carro despertou um aviso suave que ele não entendeu de pronto. Mas que já espalhara pelo mundo um vago alarme, cujo centro irradiador era o próprio homem: “assim, pois, eu”, pensou seu corpo se comovendo. Continuou deitado, remotamente gozando.
Há duas semanas aquele homem viera para o hotel, encontrado no meio da noite quase sem surpresa, de tal modo a exaustão tornava tudo possível. Era um hotel vazio, só com o alemão e o criado, se criado era. E durante duas semanas, enquanto Martim recuperava as forças num sono quase ininterrupto, o carro continuara parado numa das alamedas, com as rodas enterradas na areia. E tão imóvel, tão resistente ao hábito de incredulidade do homem e ao seu cuidado em não se deixar ludibriar, que Martim terminara finalmente por considerá-lo à sua disposição.
Mas a verdade é que já naquela noite de pés cambaleantes – quando ele enfim se deixara cair meio morto numa cama verdadeira com verdadeiros lençóis – já naquele instante o carro representara a garantia da nova fuga, caso os dois homens se mostrassem mais curiosos pela identidade do hóspede. E este tombara confiante no sono como se ninguém jamais conseguisse tirar de sua firme garra, que prendia apenas o lençol, a roda imaginária de um volante.
O alemão, no entanto, nada lhe havia perguntado, e o criado, se o era, mal o olhara. A relutância com que o tinham aceito não vinha da desconfiança, mas do fato do hotel não ser mais hotel havia muito tempo – há tanto tempo quanto estava inutilmente à venda, explicara-lhe o alemão, e, para não ter um ar suspeito, Martim balançara a cabeça sorrindo. Enquanto não tinham construído a estrada nova, era por ali que passavam os carros, e o casarão isolado não poderia estar melhor situado como pouso forçado para pernoites. Quando a nova estrada fora traçada e asfaltada a cinqüenta quilômetros dali, desviando para longe o curso de passagem, o lugar todo morrera e não avia mais motivo de alguém vir a precisar de hotel na zona agora entregue ao vento. Mas apesar da indiferença aparente dos dois homens a obstinada procura de segurança de Martim se ancorara naquele carro sobre o qual também as aranhas, tranqüilizadas pela imobilidade envernizada, haviam executado o aéreo trabalho ideal.
Era esse carro que em plena noite se desenraizara com rouquidão.
Dentro do silêncio de novo intato, o homem agora olhou estupidamente o teto invisível que no escuro era tão alto quanto o céu. Largado de costas na cama, tentou num esforço de prazer gratuito reconstituir o ruído das rodas, pois enquanto não sentia dor era de um modo geral prazer que ele sentia. Da cama não via o jardim. Um pouco de bruma entrava pelas venezianas abertas, o que se denunciou ao homem pelo cheiro de algodão úmido e por uma certa ânsia física de felicidade que a cerração dá. Fora apenas um sonho, então. Cético, embora, ele se ergueu.
Nas trevas nada viu da sacada, e nem sequer adivinhou a simetria dos canteiros. Algumas manchas mais negras que o próprio negrume indicaram o provável lugar das árvores. O jardim não passava ainda de um esforço de sua memória, e o homem olhou quieto, adormecido. Um ou outro vaga-lume tornava mais vasta a escuridão.
Esquecido do sonho que o guiara até a sacada, o corpo do homem achou bom se sentir saudavelmente de pé: é que o ar suspenso mal alterava a escura posição das folhas. Ali, pois, deixou-se ficar, dócil, atordoado, com a sucessão de quartos desocupados atrás de si. Sem emoção aqueles quartos vazios repetiam-no e repetiam-no até se apagarem aonde o homem já não se alcançava mais. Martim suspirou dentro de seu largo sono acordado. Sem insistir demais, tentou atingir a noção dos últimos quartos como se ele próprio se tivesse tornado grande demais e espalhado, e, por algum motivo que já esquecera, precisasse obscuramente se recolher para talvez pensar ou sentir. Mas não conseguiu, e estava muito aprazível. Assim ele ficou, com o ar cortês de um homem que levou uma pancada na cabeça. Até que – como quando um relógio pára de bater e só então nos adverte que antes batia – Martim percebeu o silêncio e dentro do silêncio a sua própria presença. Agora, através de uma incompreensão muito familiar, o homem começou enfim a ser indistintamente ele mesmo.
Então as coisas passaram a se reorganizar a partir dele próprio: trevas foram sendo entendidas, ramos começaram lentamente a se formar sob o balcão, sombras se dividiram em flores ainda irresolutas – com os limites ocultos pelo viço imóvel das plantas, os canteiros se delinearam cheios, macios. O homem grunhiu aprovando: com certa dificuldade acabara de reconhecer o jardim que nessas duas semanas de sono constituíra em intervalos a sua irredutível visão.
Foi nesse momento que uma lua desfalecida perpassou uma nuvem em grande silêncio, em silêncio derramou-se sobre pedras calmas, desaparecendo em silêncio na escuridão. A cara enluarada do homem se dirigiu então para a alameda onde o Ford estaria imóvel.
Mas o carro desaparecera.
O corpo inteiro do homem subitamente despertou. Num relance astuto seus olhos percorreram a escuridão toda do jardim – e, sem um gesto de aviso, ele se virou para o quarto em leve pulo de macaco.
Nada porém se mexia no oco do aposento que de escuro se tornara enorme. O homem ficou resfolegando atento e inutilmente feroz, com as mãos avançadas para o ataque. Mas o silêncio do hotel era o mesmo da noite. E sem limites visíveis, o quarto prolongava no mesmo exalar-se a escuridão do jardim. Para se despertar o homem esfregou várias vezes os olhos com o dorso de uma das mãos enquanto deixava a outra livre para a defesa. Foi inútil sua nova sensibilidade: nas trevas os olhos totalmente abertos não viram sequer as paredes.
Era como se o tivessem depositado solto num campo. E enfim ele acordasse de um longo sonho do qual haviam feito parte um hotel agora desmanchado num chão vazio, um carro apenas imaginado pelo desejo, e sobretudo tivessem desaparecido os motivos de um homem estar todo expectante num lugar que também este era expectativa.
De real só lhe restou a sagacidade que o fizera dar um pulo para indistintamente se defender. A mesma que o levava agora a raciocinar com inesperada lucidez que se o alemão tivesse ido denunciá-lo levaria algum tempo para ir e voltar com a Polícia.
O que ainda o deixava temporariamente livre – a menos que o criado tivesse sido encarregado de vigiá-lo. E nesse caso o criado, se o era, estaria neste mesmo instante à porta daquele mesmo quarto com o ouvido atento ao menor movimento do hóspede.
Assim pensou ele. E findo o raciocínio, ao qual chegara com a maleabilidade com que um invertebrado se torna menor para deslizar, Martim mergulhou de novo na mesma ausência anterior de razões e na mesma obtusa imparcialidade, como se nada tivesse a ver consigo mesmo, e a espécie se encarregasse dele. Sem um olhar para trás, guiado por uma escorregadia destreza de movimentos, começou a descer pela sacada apoiando pés inesperadamente flexíveis na saliência dos tijolos. Na sua atenta remotidão o homem sentia perto da cara o cheiro malévolo das heras quebradas como se nunca o fosse esquecer. Sua alma agora apenas alerta não distinguia o que era ou não importante, e a toda operação ele deu a mesma consideração escrupulosa.
Num pulo macio, que fez o jardim asfixiar-se em suspiro retido, ele se achou em pleno centro de um canteiro – que se arrepiou todo e depois se fechou. Com o corpo advertido o homem esperou que a mensagem de seu pulo fosse transmitida de secreto em secreto eco até se transformar em longínquo silêncio; seu baque terminou se espraiando nas encostas de alguma montanha. Ninguém ensinara ao homem essa conivência com o que se passa de noite, mas um corpo sabe.
Ele esperou um pouco mais. Até que nada aconteceu. Só então tateou com minúcia os óculos no bolso: estavam inteiros. Suspirou com cuidado e finalmente olhou em torno. A noite era de uma grande e escura delicadeza.


Fonte: LISPECTOR, Clarice. A maçã no escuro. 7ª.ed. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1982. p. 11 – 16.