MUTUM OPERATION – THE PARADEIRA
July 6, 1975
That Sunday morning the sun came up bright and bright, promising to warm up even more, and it was after noon when I left my room and went down to start acting. In the living room of my grandparents’ house, after having a cup of coffee in the kitchen, I picked up a newspaper to see what was interesting. It was the Folha de São Paulo on Friday, the 4th.
In Mutum, newspapers did not arrive on the same day they were edited. Copies of subscribers were sent via the Post Office and could take up to three days to arrive. The separate packages, which were intended for sale, arrived in two days. Thus, the most current news had happened at least two days ago. Thus, when they read the newspaper, they already knew in advance what the main news was because it had already been broadcast on radio and television. In the newspaper they only sought to confirm the facts in greater depth. And the comments of the analysts. In addition to those news that, important or not, because they did not deserve greater highlights, had not been released, by other means, besides the newspaper. For the majority, however, the newspaper was good for wrapping. For this purpose it was sold, by the pound, to owners of all types of trade.
As I always did, I picked up the newspaper, put it under my arm and went to read it in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet. There, for sure, he would not be disturbed by anyone during the reading.
When I read Folha’s date, I commented quietly “Let’s see what else happened in the world on Friday besides Gordo’s death”.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, policemen armed with large-caliber rifles had surrounded the CGT headquarters to prevent demonstrations against the economic policy of the Government of María Estela Martínez de Perón, Isabelita, who had taken an oath on June 29, 1974 and assumed the Presidency at Casa Rosada, replacing her husband Juan Domingo Perón, who died on July 1, 1974, victimized by a heart attack. There was a clash between protesters and soldiers on the streets with dozens of gunshot wounds.
In Portugal, the Government of António Sebastião Ribeiro de Spínola decided to nationalize all radio stations in the country, as a way of controlling their opponents.
In England, Prime Minister Harold Wilson said that his Labor government would meet its goal of not allowing inflation to exceed ten percent by defending itself against charges by conservative opposition leader Margaret Tatcher.
In the United States there were celebrations for the 199th anniversary of American independence.
In Nairobi, Uganda, President Idi Amin switched the death sentences of political prisoners to six months in prison.
In London, England, the police intensified their search for Ilich Ramírez Sanches, Carlos’ real name “O Chacal” and arrested three suspects of being involved with the Venezuelan terrorist.
When I finished, I remembered Gordo.
For the little I knew about Gordo, I thought to myself, all these subjects would be excellent reasons for a hell of a discussion.
Gordo had a very high cultural level, well above most of the friends who lived with him. The result, of course, of the readings made in the newspapers and magazines that he subscribed to and that he read, daily, in his store, when he was not attending to a customer. In Roseiral Gordo was considered an intellectual. The village lost very culturally with his death.
The rest of the morning went by without my noticing, since I stayed at home reading the news from Folha.
Esporte Clube Mutum would not play at home that Sunday, because its Municipal Stadium was serving as Headquarters for the troops charged with rescuing the bombs dropped on the city. They would play in Afonso Cláudio, in Espírito Santo, where the team had already traveled at dawn, right after the end of the ball.
As there was no movement of military troops, Sunday was a complete parade. Only masses in Catholic churches and services in believing churches caused some movement of people on the streets. In addition, the sun, with its strong rays, took care to keep those townspeople inside their houses, where the temperature was more pleasant. They would only leave again when night came, for footing in the square and chatting in bars.
I had just had lunch with my grandparents when I heard them calling me at the door. I went to see who it was and I ran into Alice. “You promised you were going to see me and it wasn’t until now,” he said with a smile. “So, I came to see if I was still here or if I had already returned to BH”. I invited her in and she went with me to see my grandparents. He stayed there talking for a while while I changed clothes. Then we left.
I went with Alice to her parents’ house and stayed there, talking and having coffee with cake and bread for a good part of the afternoon.
Being in Alice’s company made me have very good memories. But we never touched on the subject, as if we had agreed that it would be so. The past was past. And it should remain in the past. Or not?
When it started to get dark we left his house and went to the square. Alice told me that she wouldn’t let me leave her while she was in the square, that we had a lot to talk about. Thus, we were circling around the garden, as we used to do when we lived there, some time ago. From time to time we would sit on a bench, when we found an emptiness. We talked about almost everything. Except about what had happened to us. Later, she met some friends, I went to Bar do Paulo, she went back to her parents’ house and we didn’t see each other that Sunday night.
(To be continued next week)