ISSN 2359-4101

Brazilian Literature in Translation / Literatura Brasileña en Traducción

Issue / Numero

year/año: 2012
issue/numero: # 05



Catastrophe


Author | Autor: Luiz Vilela


Translated by Thais Maria Giammarco

— It’s going to be a catastrophe!
— What could I have done?
— You could have told her not to come.
— How could I say something like that?
— Why not?
— Someone calls me and says she would like to come and spend a few days in my
house – am I going to tell her not to come?
— Why not?
— Would you do that?
— Of course I would.
— Well, I wouldn’t.
— I’d say: “Listen, whatever your name is, I’m really glad you remembered me and my
house, but you’d better not come because my husband not only dislikes visitors, but
also and most importantly, he dislikes children, and that’s why we don’t have any.”
— Very funny... Can you imagine me saying this to her or whoever it might be?
— Exactly, you didn’t and look what it’s led to: she’s coming.
— It’s only for six days, Artur.
— Only six days!
— She wants to make the most of the Children’s Holiday Week.
— And what does that have to do with us?
— She wanted to give the kids a special treat so she chose this trip.
— That’s wonderful! She gives them the treat and we have to foot the bill!
— She said: “Mimi, do you know what my kids really need? Do you know? They need
a total immersion in the countryside.”
— As far as I’m concerned, what they will get is an immersion in blood!
— “Can you believe, Mimi, that in all their life some of my kids have never actually
seen a real hen?”
— Why don’t they visit a farm then? There are lots of them near São Paulo.
— Oh Artur, you know that’s not the problem.
— Then what’s it all about?
— You know... It’s like Dininha said: “A hen strutting along the street, the chicks walking
after it...”
— A hen strutting along the street...
— “The hen scratching the ground…”
— This friend of yours is nuts.
— These things, you know? These are the kinds of things she wants to see...
— She’s nuts, this friend of yours.
— No, she’s not nuts.
— Starting with the children. I mean: with the fact that she has children, since having
children is a sign of mental insanity.
— Having children is a sign of love, Artur.
— That’s what rats think.
— Having children...
— That’s where it all starts: having children; now, having seven – seven! That is sheer
craziness!
— Why?
— Because it is.
— I don’t think so.
— Not to mention the names. The names of the kids...
— What about their names?
— Tell me what their names are again…
— What for?
— Tell me...
— Dagoberto, Delmiro, Dilermando, Donato, Durango, Dorval e Durval.
— Good grief !
— The two last ones are twins.
— Serves her right. That’s God’s punishment.
— I feel so very sorry for Dininha, I really do. Can you picture it, being left alone by a
husband at such a young age, with seven young children?
— I can just picture the guy: one day he looks around, sees that bunch of kids and
thinks: “God in heaven, what on earth have I done?” Then he grabs his suitcase,
sneaks out and loses himself in the wilderness.
— Besides, Dininha and I grew up together, she was my best friend. This is a chance
for me, I mean, for both of us to help her now.
— Help her…
— What’s so difficult about putting up a family for a few days?
— But this isn’t a family – it’s more like a mob.
— Our house is big, and, fortunately, we can afford it…
— That’s not the problem, Mimi. The problem isn’t just that they’re going to disturb
our peace.
— What’s the problem then?
— The problem is that they’re going to devastate everything.
— Devastate everything? What do you mean?
— They’ll destroy everything we have here: the paintings, the sculptures, the carpets,
the orchids, our animals: they’ll just devastate everything!
— How can you say that when you don’t even know the kids, Artur?
— Do I have to?
— You don’t even know what they are like.
— It’s a formula, Mimi; a mathematical formula.
— A formula...
— Think about it: seven kids, seven kids between three and eleven years old, seven
kids caged in an apartment in the centre of São Paulo. All of a sudden these kids
are released, taken to the countryside and dumped into a large house, with gardens,
with a backyard, animals... What’s going to happen?
— Nothing’s going to happen.
— No, of course not...
— Nothing’s going to happen.
— They’re just going to tear the place apart.
— You’re just imagining things, Artur.
— Imagining...
— You’re just imagining all this.
— I suppose I could take the pictures and sculptures to a bank. But what about the
orchids? And our pets and animals? How are we going to get them out of here?
Where can we put them? Who would look after them?
— Think a bit, Artur.
— What about?
— Think about what this trip would mean to the kids.
— Why should I think about that?
— You were a kid once, too.
— Yes, I was, and thank God I wasn’t a city kid and never had to live in an apartment.
And if anything else needs to be added, for having been able to see hens ever since
I was little.
— You were also a son, once.
— Yeah, although not exactly because I wanted to. But, at any rate, I can say that,
given the mum I had, being her son was the best thing in my life.
— Well then, Dininha also wants to be a good mum for her kids.
— Kids...
— What?
— What are kids for?
— What for?
— I wonder if this nonsense will ever end.
— If it does, it will be the end of mankind.
— Any objections?
— If it weren’t for children, not even the two of us would be here right now.
— Nor would this moron be threatening us with these seven plagues, with such an
utter catastrophe.
— Well, this conversation has gone on long enough.
— Yeah.
— Let’s put a stop to it, shall we?
— Let’s.
— I won’t do anything.
— No.
— They are coming.
— Ok.
— I’ll even buy a tin of biscuits.
— And I, some gun.
— Some gum? Really?
— Some gun, cara mia.





to the top