CARNIVAL REMAINS

Clarice Lispector

No, not from this last carnival. But I don’t know why it transported me to my childhood and to the Ash Wednesday on the dead streets where strings of serpentine and confetti flew. One or the other with a veil covering her head went to the church, crossing the street so extremely empty that it follows the carnival. Until the other year came. And when the party was approaching, how to explain the intimate agitation that took me? As if at last the world would open itself with a button that was in a great scarlet rose. As if the streets and squares of Recife finally explained what they had been made for. As if human voices at last sang the capacity for pleasure that was secret in me. Carnival was mine, mine. However, in reality, I took little part in it. I had never been to a children’s ball, they had never fantasized about me. On the other hand, they let me stay until about 11 pm at the foot of the stairwell in the townhouse where we lived, eagerly watching the others have fun. I won two precious things then and saved them with greed to last the three days: a perfume launcher and a bag of confetti. Ah, it’s becoming difficult to write. Because I feel like I will be dark-hearted when I realize that, even though I add so little to the joy, I was so thirsty that almost nothing made me a happy girl. And the masks? I was afraid, but it was a vital and necessary fear because it met my deepest suspicion that the human face was also a kind of mask. At the door of my stairway, if a masked man spoke to me, I suddenly came into the indispensable contact with my inner world, which was not made up only of elves and enchanted princes, but of people with their mystery. Even my fright with the masked ones was essential for me. They didn’t fancy me: in the midst of worries about my sick mother, no one at home had a head for children’s carnival. But I asked one of my sisters to curl my straight hair that caused me so much disgust, and then I had the vanity of having curly hair for at least three days a year. In those three days, still, my sister acceded to my intense dream of being a girl – I couldn’t wait for the exit of a vulnerable childhood – and I painted my mouth with lipstick very strong, also rubbing my cheeks. So I felt beautiful and feminine, I escaped boyhood. But there was a carnival different from the others. So miraculous that I could not believe that so much was given to me, I, who had already learned to ask for little. It was that the mother of a friend of mine had decided to dress up her daughter and the name of the costume was in the costume Rosa. For that he had bought sheets and sheets of pink crepe paper, with which, I suppose, he intended to imitate the petals of a flower. Open-mouthed, I watched fantasy gradually taking shape and creating itself. Although the crepe paper was not remotely reminiscent of petals, I seriously thought it was one of the most beautiful fantasies I had ever seen. That was when the unexpected happened by simple chance: crepe paper remained, and a lot. And my friend’s mother – perhaps in response to my silent plea, my silent despair of envy, or perhaps out of sheer kindness, since paper was left over – decided to make a pink costume for me with what was left of material. At that carnival, for the first time in my life, I would have what I had always wanted: it was going to be something other than myself. Even the preparations already made me dizzy with happiness. I had never felt so busy: meticulously, my friend and I calculated everything, under the fantasy we would use a combination, because if it rained and the fantasy melted, at least we would be somehow dressed – to the idea of ​​a rain that would suddenly leave us, our eight-year-old female modesty on the street, we previously died of shame – but ah! God would help us! it wouldn’t rain! As for the fact that my fantasy exists only because of the remains of another, I swallowed with some pain my pride, which had always been fierce, and I humbly accepted what fate gave me alms. But why exactly did that carnival, the only one in fantasy, have to be so melancholy? Early in the morning on Sunday I had my hair curled so that until the afternoon the beaded would look good. But the minutes did not pass, with so much anxiety. Anyway, anyway! It was three o’clock in the afternoon: careful not to tear the paper, I dressed in pink. Many things that have happened to me so much worse than these, I have already forgiven. However, I can’t even understand it now: is a destination’s craps game irrational? It’s ruthless. When I was dressed in fully armed crepe paper, still with my hair curled and still without lipstick and rouge – my mother suddenly became very ill in health, a sudden uproar was created at home and I was told to buy medicine quickly at the pharmacy.

I was running, running, perplexed, astonished, among streamers, confetti and carnival screams. The joy of others amazed me. When hours later the atmosphere at home calmed down, my sister combed and painted me. But something had died in me. And, as in the stories I had read about fairies that enchanted and disenchanted people, I was disenchanted; she was no longer a rose, she was a simple girl again. I went down to the street and standing there I was not a flower, I was a thoughtful clown with red lips. In my hunger for ecstasy, sometimes I started to feel happy but with remorse I remembered my mother’s serious condition and again I died. Only hours later did salvation come. And if I quickly clung to her, it was because I needed to save myself so badly. A boy of about 12 years old, which meant a boy for me, this very handsome boy stopped in front of me and, in a mixture of affection, thickness, play and sensuality, covered my hair, already smooth, with confetti: for a moment we stayed facing us, smiling, without speaking. And then I, an 8 year old woman, considered for the rest of the night that at last someone had recognized me: yes, I was a rose. Short story published in the book Felicidade Clandestina, Ed. Rocco.

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