Chapter 11: November 21, Last Year
But tell me, doc, you were looking for me. Did something happen? Is your missus alright? And the kids? What happened?
Yes, doc, we're almost leaving. We'll just have something for Mr. Nitwit demands so, and then we're already going. You look a little strange, doc, what's up?
Where to? One of the brothers went on chatting around and we'll go down Bosque and sleep at a square past Cursino Avenue, it looks like it's called João something... I think it's João Rodrigues... I don't know for sure, I just know it's past Cursino.
No, we'll just sleep there. The same brother knows the area and the square is big, we can sleep without being noticed, but we can't spend the day, hehe!
Then, we're going to a hood close to Anchieta. This brother has already been there for a while and said the place is a little calm, and it looks like we'll be able to stay for a while. Another good thing is that it's somewhat close to the zoo, where there's also a good place to stay. We keep going, doc, hehe, everything's settled already! But tell me, you're a little anxious, what's going on?
What do you mean, doc? A nursing home? It's like an elder’s nursing home, isn't it? But doc...
It's ok, doc, a nursing home, but isn't it a thing of...
I know, doc, I know... I've heard of these kept by churches, it's that actually...
No, doc, I won't leave my brothers...
It's ok, doc, you can speak, I'm sorry!
Hehe, oh my doc, you really were after a place for me to stay in such a short while? And more, for almost all the brothers, hehe, you're unique! It's very kind of you.
Ah, doc, you'll have to excuse me, but I'll have to say no. Sorry, I don't even know how to explain it to you, but that's no life for us. Thank you very much! To think someone would do such thing for us, especially in such a short while and with so many good things.
No, doc, it's not for the other brothers... In fact, it is, doc, but it's not because they can't go along. I know that no place would be able to welcome so many people at once. We have a strong bond, but here it’s different At any given moment one of us can stand up and walk away without saying a word, and nobody will say a thing either. It's different and I can't explain, it's because life with them has been good, doc.
No, it's not because of the church either. We have our beliefs, that's quite true, but we have no problem with different churches. We believe in an Almighty Lord and that's all the same, what changes is the way of looking at all of this. There are a lot of people that come here to help us and that are from different churches, there's nothing to do with that. The soup guys, even, are from a different church from the people that bring clothes, did you know that?
So, doc, I don't want you to take me the wrong way, or think I'm ungrateful, but it's that we prefer to live like this, you know? The last thing I want right now is to lose the beautiful friendship I have with you or get you upset at me. We've already been invited other times to go to these places, but here's our place, doc, on the street.
Hehe, being silent like this, you must be thinking that I'm insane, aren’t you? But it's ok, hehe, we're already used to it.
Of course you explained it, doc! In fact, of course I'll try to explain, because it's difficult, hehe, oh yes.
It's that we prefer the life we have here. Not that we're some kind of crazy people that like suffering. Not like that. It's that we like the way we live life, doc. Most of the brothers here didn't come from the streets, they came from normal lives, they already know the real world. And that's exactly why they also have this certainty when they prefer this life. And look, they weren't unhappy people in their other lives. Oh no, they were happy people. But you know how life takes its turns and, once in a while, it tricks you. Oh well, doc, in these moments that I already told you about, we start seeing everything different. They start being things of another plan. Of course we'd prefer - and even dream of - sleeping in soft beds with clean sheets, but that comes with a price: changing lives.
I see you are still quite confuse, but I get it, it's confusing indeed, because only those who came from one side to the other understand, if you get what I mean, hehe. But let's move on... There's no doubt, and there must not be, about life in the world that you live being a better life than ours. Don't you worry about that, because I won't deny it.
Here, in this life, we go through a lot of needs. Here, the system is very harsh, like they say. Here, we fight for food, and not for a salary. Here, we have to make do to get a place to use the toilet without being too ridiculous, and not for the comfort of clean towels and soft papers. Here, we have to worry not only with where we'll spend the night, but how we'll warm ourselves up. Here, we don't even have to sell dinner to buy lunch, because not even dinner is guaranteed. Here, doc, we have no bigger hope than waking up the day after and, during this new day, at last, lose ourselves. Here, doc, nobody has a doubt that they'll never have a cozy room like they once had, the closest to this will be the love from people like you and people from the places where you want to take us but doc, you'll never understand, and I pray so that you'll never have to, how terrible it is for a man that was somebody once, having to survive from favors of others, from the charity of others...
Everyone here, doc, at least out of these brothers, and a bit more of others that I already met, knows they are in this life on their own. Everyone knows, and maybe they won't admit it if asked, that they are paying for the choices and actions of other times. Also, doc, everyone knows they have to go through this so that they can redeem themselves before the Lord, so that one day they are dignified to enter His heavens. Everyone has their way of seeing this, everyone has their way of talking about it, and everyone has their way of believing it; but at the end, at the very end, it's all the same, everything's the same thing.
But it's not all disgrace, oh no, doc. On the contrary, there are good things, too!
Hehe, I knew you were thinking about it, but there are!
Things are not easy here, doc, but where are they? Nothing comes for free to anybody. Everything in this life has a price and we must fight, somehow, to get what we want. But here, doc, we have another kind of struggle, or even: we fight for other kinds of things. Things that are simple for most of people, such as a bed, a roof, a meal... These are the things that we go after all the time, about which we have to worry. On the other hand, doc, you don't know, and God allows you never come to know, what an accomplishment of a handful of old food is! Yes, sir, doc, it's something to be scared of, hehe! This accomplishment is something that gets at us in a very funny way. It's a mixture of victory with a feeling of, how do you say, being worse than a dog. But I think it's about that, something out of instinct, you know? That thing of an animal hunting, looking for a den to spend the night. And that's why I say that it's something weird, funny: mixing this hunting victory, a guarantee of a few more days in the world, with the feeling of being thrown at this situation.
But look, doc, these are our concerns! Only these. These are the only things that can bother at the moment we lay down to rest. We don't have to worry about bills to pay, problems at work, an angry boss, traffic, appointments, housekeeping, and the longings and needs of the family. God forgive me for saying this, but it's for you to understand. And sorry if I'm being harsh, too, but that's a fact you'll have to agree, right? You know very well how many problems wander around your head before you fall asleep.
Besides, doc, we can go wherever we want, whenever we want and the way we want, because no one cares about us. On the contrary, they try to take us away from their view, they try to ignore us - as long as we stay away, hehe - and they pretend not to notice us. We are, in most of the cases, invisible, do you get what I mean? Of course that other times we're like haunting spirits. But on both cases, people prefer to stay away from us and we live life our own way. For example, doc, does anyone mind if we're wearing ripped clothes and that they don't match the shoes we wear? I'm sure that they note yours. Does anyone mind if we're drunk or high? I also know they're always paying attention to your behavior, the things you say.
When there's something for us, it's the worst of all feelings: pity! But, as they say, it's a double-edged knife. This same feeling is what allows us to know people like you, like Miss Mercedes, like the people from the bakery. You get what I mean, doc? God blesses us even in our punishment!
So, doc, it's this freedom I speak of, this freedom of us being what we want to be, without worrying about what any person can think or come to tell us. I'm not talking about the freedom of not having walls surrounding us or ties tying us to a wall, but the freedom of simply existing! And that, doc, I can assure you, nobody has. But everything has a price in this life, and in our case it's the payback we receive.
Like I told you, all of this is a big punishment, a payback time that we have to go through so that we can be worth of entering the Lord's heavens. At least to be closer to Him. It's something that prepares us for the end of a full life, even though we still have to wait and pray for that insanity. But, doc, how can punishment be so full of nice things? Maybe we are chosen and don't suffer like the other brothers, but that's now. Things were much worse, and you know what I'm talking about? Yes, even death! So, doc, do you see God's kindness, that blesses us with nice things and people even in our punishment? Do you see how in life, no matter how bad the situation is, there's always something hidden to make us laugh, even laugh out loud? God knows what He does, doc, things happen and we have to make do with them. As I said, things won't fall from heaven, but God's always giving a little help, only those who don't want to can't see, hehe!
And in this life we're living, doc, it's easier to see these things. I don't know if it's because we have few things, or for having more time for that, but truth is simplicity turns out to be prettier! That's right, doc, simplicity turns out to be prettier. We start seeing beauty in the simplest things that before would go unnoticed. And look, doc, these things that I always talk about were always there; they don't come out of nothing, they just start being seen. It sounds like cheap talk but it's true, doc. A caring look at us, even if with a little despise or disgust, makes us feel less transparent already. A true good-morning already makes our day, not to mention bringing us one step higher, hehe. A charity gesture, makes us have a little faith in people, not for doing us any good, but for still having feelings, even if it's just pity. A mother that passes by with a giggling child is more than enough to get a smile from us and make the view prettier. A bird that comes drink the dirty water on the curb, here, so close to us, gives us the right sensation that God is looking after us. A person, like you, that stops with true attention to listen to me with all my crap and cheap talks, is the greatest proof that there's still kindness in people and that not everything is lost. Seeing a brother get a thankful lick, a little embarrassed, of a dog that passed by and got a few crumbs from the little food the brother had it's a beautiful thing to see and the greatest proof of the strength and dignity that people have inside themselves to remain strong in this walk without leaving behind or stepping on the heads of others that are in worse situations.
And seeing that kind of beauty, doc, is not just from our lives. That comes from the simplicity of life, not from misery! Being simple has nothing to do with being a beggar, or being someone in need, or even ignorant. Being simple is having your own experience in mind, patience in your nerves, and most of all, kindness in your heart. And only with all that can a guy see all the beauty and all the gestures God puts in our lives. The simple guy, doc, doesn't just exist, but also cherishes life!
I don't know, doc, if I got to explain these things to you. I told you it was hard to explain and understand. It's not about being able, oh no, because I know you are a smart person and I'm a little clumsy to explain; but that's because, to truly understand this you have to live like this, and I'll forever pray so that you'll never truly understand this, hehe!
That's why, doc, I'll just ask from the bottom of my heart that you believe me and take all of this as the truth. It has nothing to do with pride, doc. I need you to know this. Pride is the greatest poison that kills the soul of a man. I'm not talking about that pride that comes victorious after a long struggle in life, but pride of those that won't take people's help for finding they’re above others, for finding that accepting help belittles men. It's not like that, we don't have this kind of thing here, and a guy that has it won't last long. And I ask you even more, doc, that you understand that I'm not dismissing you. On the contrary, I'm really thankful and I have a lot of esteem and respect for you, I think you already know that.
I understand that it must have been hard for you to get it for us, I also understand that you did it with the best of intentions and I don't want you to feel betrayed. We will always be very very thankful for what you did, doc, but that's not our life. If you're mad at us, we'll understand, doc. You have all the right to do so, but we mean no harm.
I'm glad you're not upset, doc! It's so good to know that.
That's right, doc, you got it better than what I thought, it's exactly that. I'm happy and calm that you got it that way.
Yeah... Life is like that... Hehe, oh yes!
Well, doc, I think that's it. Time to go, hehe...
Yeah, I'm not very good with farewells, either, but...
You got it, doc, we'll take good care...
Thank you, doc, to you and all your family too...
What's that, doc? You don't have to worry about that! Oh no, doc, you keep that money, we're good... But doc... You don't have to...
Oh my, ok, ok, doc, I'll take it, then. But it's for you to calm down, hehe. Thank you very much, ok, doc?
Doc, I don't even know how to say it in words but, from the bottom of my heart, thank you very much for everything you've done for us. May God return it in double to you. I'll remember you every day of my life, just like I remember all the nice people that pass by it. And I'm also praying so that God lets you remain the nice person you are, and that He guards your family, with peace and health, so that all the good things always happen to you. You are a golden person, doc, and for managing to be like this in this world, you're a true hero!
Well, doc, see you when I see you. Who knows, maybe we'll still run into each other in this life! May God bless you and always guide you through the path of peace!
Amen, doc, for you, too!
See you when I see you, doc, yeah, see you when I see you, oh yes, oh yes, thanks God, oh my, hehe, oh my...