The sharp observation of the world and the sense exploration through the eyes of brat who is charmed and provoked by the challenge of a school girl’s beauty.
The character-teller takes courage, digresses and plans ways to conquer the girl’s admiral. Hercules jobs propelled by feelings filled with innocence. A love that blossoms, as it always happens, with not much to explain.
Writing for kids, or better, stating from them, more than rewarding and revealing, is the greatest literary exercise I have ever found. And it discharges over the author the truest of the reasonable comments.
I present you now, in bilingual version, my dearest text. For the kids who won’t let the sugar die in their lives. E for the adults, so they can miss it. After all, who can forget the smell of the rain on the sidewalk?
Thank you Mom Rosa for the eternal cord. Lunguinho for the fraternity. Dani for the devotion on translating. Lívia for the unconditional shoulder.
November, 15th, 2006.
When I was invited to join this amazing project, I was first flattered just by the idea of leaving aside some technical translation for a while and do some “therapy” with this lovely novel, which I knew only the first and second chapters.
By the time I got the material containing the chapters III to IX, I fell totally in love, with this boy who was not baptized to me yet, and who could swing flowers and make me cook “brigadeiros” and “pastéis” in English. It was a charming challenge to add this beautiful culture from Rio de Janeiro, in an international language, and feel I could add a little bit of samba, a little bit of sun and a little bit of spicy childish love in everyone’s heart.
The only sad part of the job was ending the last chapter, when I felt a little bit like Penelope, undoing her wedding dress to make sure her story wouldn’t be over, going over every dot and coma of the text. And the greatest professional reward I’ve ever had in my life, was hearing from Con “Thank you, you globalized my novel”. I wish you all enjoy this story as much as I do.
December, 12th, 2006.
To Tatiana Branco,
for introducing me to the Universe of her children.
I just needed to look at her and Tatiana popped this question. I blushed and looked down to the ground. That’s the way it was since the beginning. In classroom, during snack break and festivities.She came from other school. All dandy and aromatic, Tatiana came in my classroom with her nose up, shaking her brown hair that looked just liked her huge curious eyes. I also remember her heart ear rings and the striped socks in pink and blue that came out of her doll shoes. I, who was no fool, saw that there a strong candidate for the spring princess. Or even better, I wanted Tatiana as first lady when I’d become president.
But already in the first day, at the first glance, she sat beside me, turned and said:
– What’s up? – in a rude way.
– Nothing. – I answered, frightened.
That’s how the year passed by, I couldn’t approach her by anyway.
It was November and the school year was getting to its end. Summer was about to start in one month in Rio de Janeiro.When the final exams started, I was having problems in Math, but in the rest of the subjects I was doing great. And it was during History class that I found an opportunity to help that charming girl. She needed a B to succeed and the teacher could ask anything that we had studied during the year in this test, in the next day.
I emboldened myself and offered:
– If you want, I can help you with History. I’m approved for long now.
Tatiana looked at me in a different way, gave some thought, looked a bit more and finally said:
– Ok then! Tomorrow morning at the library.
Eight o’clock I was already there. I had taken shower, washed my face, brushed my hair and teeth. Mom was even amazed because she didn’t need to ask me to do any of these.
I waited, and waited and when it was almost ten o’clock she showed up:
– Hi. Do you think we still have got time?
– Sure. – I answered certainly.
Then I explained her about the Assyrians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. Also about the marine conquests and the French Revolution. She paid all her attention on me and those huge eyes made me fall completely in love.
Tatiana got a B+ and succeeded. But me, who needed nothing but a C in Maths, almost failed because I couldn’t study thinking of her.
In the following year, we were studying in different classes. And in the first chance I got to approach her, she came with that:
– What’s up?
I couldn’t hold myself.
– It is that you are the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen.Tatiana blushed and ran away.
After this day, she started avoiding me at the courtyard. But that’s ok. If I can wait to become President, why can’t I wait till the final exams?
The year passed with Tatiana despising me. I kept on waiting her to go bad in History and devoted myself to do my best in Math. Like this, all I had to worry about was her exam.But I couldn’t. I had really awakened her interest in the subject, and Tatiana passed with a B+ and honours. By the way, this was her lowest grade.
I realized that becoming President would be much easier than getting inside the heart of that girl with brown curls. I needed a new plan and I had only a week before holidays.
In the last class day, I had set with my friends to sign our t-shirts to keep as souvenir. And this brought me this great idea.
We had a playful afternoon of joy. When the bell rang, telling us we were free to enjoy summer, I ran towards the school gate to wait for Tatiana.
The courtyard was getting empty and she was not showing up. I was about to give up when I saw, from far, my first lady’s hair, shaking in the air. I opened a smile as big as the Moon, walked towards her and said:
– Hi, Tatiana.
– What’s up? – there she came with the same question.
– Could you please sign my t-shirt? – I asked, embarrassed.
– Uf! There’s only room in the back.
– Sign it there. – and I turned.
She wrote and I yelled to thank her because she gave me back the pen and left like a rocket.
I got home dying of curiosity. What could she have written? I took off the uniform and had a huge surprise. She wrote her name and below it there was a phone number. I jumped from happiness and punched the air, as if I had scored a goal.
One morning, my Auntie invited me to the movies and told me I could bring a friend. Boys score, I thought.
I gathered some courage and called. An old lady answered:
Is this Tatiana’s house?
– I asked.
– No, son.
There’s no Tatiana living here.
I apologized for the mistake and hung up. Then I told my Auntie that I didn’t want to go.
I spent the next days moody and sad, didn’t feel like playing at all. Not even Christmas and unpacking the gifts would cheer me up. Mom even took me to the doctor, because I could hardly eat and nobody could understand why.
Luckily, Auntie loves taking me around town and a circus was here. She asked me to go and I decided to call again, thinking that maybe I could have dialled some wrong number. I picked up my t-shirt and pressed the buttons with all my attention:
– Hello. – the same old lady.
– Hello. Is this Tatiana’s house? – I asked, praying for help.
– No, son. There’s no Tatiana living here.
Then I heard in the back:
– Give me the phone, great grandma! Hello…
– Who’s this? – I asked.
– Who do you want to talk to? – To Tatiana.
– That’s me. My great grandma is kind of crazy.
I was smiling again. I said who I was and made the invitation:
– OK. Let’s go. – she answered.
I said bye and sent a kiss.
And she replied:
– To you too.
And then it was just like scoring a lot of goals, and the Moon became smaller.
It happened in a sunny Saturday, in January, Day of the Kings(1). In the scheduled time, she was there, hands in hands with her mother. Across the street, an old lady with light purple hair, a pin made of nacre and weird clothes.
Tatiana was wearing a white shirt and blue mini skirt. White sneakers and socks with tack yellow flowers. Daisies with reversed colours. The necklace was also yellow with flowers, but these were made of seeds. The curls had vanished because of the straightener, what didn’t make her less pretty. After all, her round eyes were showing even more.
The mother blessed her and the old lady wished her a good trip. Can you get it!? I needed to make a big effort not to crack up.
Auntie spoke quickly with her mom, while I started my move:
– How are you doing?
– Is she your great grandma?
– Yeah.- What’s her name?
– Paschoa. With C and H, but sounds like K.
– Eerie. Italian! – she said, goggling those brow eyes and squeezing her lips.
We laughed. During the show, Auntie let Tatiana sit between us. And next to me there was an old man, younger than Paschoa, and much balder than her. His name was Helm(2) and he filled us with candies. By his other side, his grandkids didn’t stop talking for a second. That old man was very cool.
Rapacious in History like I was, I already knew the meaning of the word helm and I can say that this nickname fit him very well.
Every time I pressed my knee against Tatiana’s thigh, I felt something cold coming down my back. I was getting embarrassed and looked at her shyly. Some other times I just peeked at her.
She laughed shyly at the clowns. She looked at me when it was time for the trapeze. She shrank her eyebrows during the magic trick that sliced a woman in three inside a box. She smiled again with the elephants and their acrobatics. Then she stared at the Death Globe and held my hand when the tigers came.
But in the end, with the jugglers, she said:
– I love jugglers.
I didn’t say a word.
After the repetition she thanked. I even got a kiss in my cheek. There I realized I could be President.
We left the place, each one holding a wrapped caramelized apple and went to the pastry shop. Her mother was supposed to meet us there.
I ordered my pastel(3) with ground beef and hers was cheese. We repeated, but reversed. We both ordered pineapple juice. Auntie tried to start a conversation:- Did you like it?
As we were eating, nobody would talk with a full mouth. I nodded my head positively while planning the next bite and Tatiana just smiled at her.
When Auntie left to pay the bill, I gathered all my manhood.
-Will you stay at our school?
I searched for new conversation. History:
-Cool that Galileo guy. Much better than Copernic.
-Because Galileo learnt from him.
I was stunned. I don’t really know what love is, but I couldn’t get very well what go into me at that moment.
I became even braver to keep on going:
– My birthday is in the end of this month. Would you like to go?
She said yes and showed all her teeth in a huge smile. Almost as big as mine, that looked like the Moon seen through a telescope.
Her mom arrived without Paschoa. I got two more kisses, one in each cheek. There were thanks and farewells. When we were far I called:
– What’s up? – she asked again, but this time with a sweet voice, maybe because of the caramelized apple she was licking.
– I’ll call you to give you the instructions to get to my house. It will be in the last Saturday of this month.
– Fine. – she yelled smiling and left.
I left thinking that President was not enough. I thought that floating was possible.
(1) In Latin American countries Epiphany day is called El Día de los Reyes/Dia de Reis (The Day of the Kings). The day when the Three Kings or Three Magi of the Bible arrived to worship and bring gifts to the baby Jesus after following a star in the heavens. In Spanish tradition, on the day of January, 6th the Kings: Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthazar, representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa, arrived on horse, camel and elephant, bringing respectively gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus.
(2) helm (plural helms)
1. (Archaic) A helmet.
(3) Deep-fried filled pastry filled with ground beef, cheese, heart of palms or many other fillings.
When mom asked me what I wanted as birthday gift, I answered:
– Three rubber balls. Like those we use for paddle tennis. But I want to get them in the right day, before the party. – then I would have three days to get ready.
I would be the juggler myself in the event.
– Only three rubber balls?
– Yes, that’s all. – I endorsed and smiled.
– But you’ve got to give them to me earlier!
– That’s fine. – she said, all happy, thinking about the money she would save.
Of course, my idea was that this gift would bring me something more: Tatiana’s admiration. That was not for sale.
In the previous Sunday, I called her house. Tatiana was not there but I spoke to her mother. Then I gave the phone to my mom e she made the invitations to the party again, and explained the way, in details. I stayed there, beside her, all the time, with my ear by the phone.
When the right day came, without surprises, I opened my gift. Each ball a different colours: red, blue and yellow. Two seconds later I was already training. First with two balls, what is almost easy. But then, when I handled the three, it was a mess. I had balls all over.
I tried for days and got nothing. I broke a picture frame and destroyed a plant. Then mom forbid me to play inside the house. I went to the garden.
On Friday, one day before the party, in the end of the afternoon, I was really tired when in front of my house there was a real juggler passing. He looked at me and sensed my anxiety. He approached me, got three maces from his backpack and said:
– Mira!* (Look)
I didn’t get what he said but he started to play with the maces. He was a very good juggler.
– Mira mis manos!* – he said again. (Look at my hands)
He played a bit more and stopped:
– Ahora usted!* – pointed at me and waited. (Now, you)
-Me?- Sí! Anda!* (Yes. Go!)
I played and it was the same mess. He jumped my gate and repeated:
– Mira!* (Look!)I paid all my attention to his movements.
– Junto! – he asked. (Toguether)
I started playing with the balls. He left the maces, took three balls out of his backpack and restarted. Suddenly, I managed to play with the three balls for a few seconds before overthrowing everything.
He smiled and said: – Nuevamente!* (Again)
I picked up the balls and kept on trying. We practiced for a long time, till he stopped:
– Pronto. Tienes que practicar siempre. Cada día haceras mejor.* (Ok. You have to practice often. Everyday you will make it better.)
He packed his stuff and jumped my gate again. He waved his hand to say goodbye.
I thanked and asked his name:
– Gaston. – he answered.
– Where are you from? – curious me!
– Argentina. – he said, with an H instead of G.
From then on all I did was practicing, getting better little by little, because he had taught me how to move my hands.
I woke up very early that Saturday. Picked up my balls and walked to the backyard still in my pyjamas. I didn’t have any more time to lose.
My arms were still sore, but at any point resting was an option. I only stopped when mom called me for lunch and by then I could equilibrate the three balls for almost a minute.
We ate and mom told me:
– Go get dressed and I’ll take you for a hair cut. I want you looking good today.
I don’t like cutting my hair. I prefer it a bit longer. But this time I didn’t complain.
I came back home and went straight to shower. I wore a new clothe and had even some perfume on me. While mom was getting the snacks ready, I was forced to stay in front of the TV to avoid getting sweat and dirty.
When it was five o’clock my friends started showing up one by one. Cousins and neighbours. Except for Tatiana.
Mom called us to sing Happy Birthday and I could barely hide my sadness. She asked me who would get the first slice of the cake:
– I will! – and ate it up.
Many brigadeiros (4) and glasses of juice later, we went to the backyard. I didn’t touch the balls. We played hide-and-seek, duck duck goose and a bit with other balls.
At every moment there was a parent coming to get his kid and took all of my friends. When there was no one left, I got my pyjamas and went to shower without being told. I didn’t even unpack the gifts I got. I left the bathroom and went straight to bed, but before sleeping I thanked mom for the party and wished her good night.
Even tired, it took me long to fall asleep:
– Why didn’t Tatiana show? – I asked myself, whining.
( 4) Oliveira, Silas. Aquarela Brasileira, 1964. Império Serrano’s Samba-Enredo.
When I woke up I was grumbler and moody. However, mom saved manhood from my rage:- Tatiana called last night, really late, to say that she had travelled and that’s why she couldn’t make it. But she said she didn’t forget about the party and apologized for not being able to come. She also said she will give you your gift at school.
I changed completely. Forget about the Moon, I was the shinning Sun, in a summer day like that. Half hour and lot of planning later, I asked myself:
– Just in March?And I thought:
– I’ve got to set something up earlier.
I speculated and soon decided:
– Pre carnival parade. That’s it!Auntie wouldn’t decline because she was taking part in almost all of them, or better saying, in all she heard of. She used to spend all summers in samba events.
During winters, she settled down. Can you get it!?
– Auntie. – I yearned. – I’ve got to set a date. A jaunt. I thought about a pre carnival parade. Can you help me?
– Got it. The girl from the circus.
– How did you guess?
– Brat, I’m familiar with your game.
And before I could defend myself, she pronounced:
– I’ll do more, I’ll call her.
I didn’t think it was right. Tatiana had given me the number and if other person called she could think I was a chicken. I justified myself:
– Let me call her. Her great grandma is senile and forgets things. And her mom travels unawares. If she wants to go, I’ll call you back. Thanks, Auntie.
– I don’t need to thank me. Tell the brunette to go wearing low sandals and a dress because she will sweat. Kiss you, brat.
I hung up elated and soon mom came bothering:
– To the supermarket! Let’s go!I couldn’t hold myself, but didn’t tell mom anything. Something else intrigued me:
– How Auntie had found out about Tatiana?
We went shopping. It was good to go, because I only don’t go when I mess up and get grounded. And I shall confess that mom doesn’t know about my real daily needs. She buys a lot of nonsense, like vegetables, cereals and salty crackers.
Can you believe it rained?! Everything planned and it was raining dogs and cats. Early in the morning Auntie called:
– We won’t make it.
– And what if we pretend we go? We give up on the way!
– What do you mean?
– We go somewhere else. Somewhere indoors. – I risked.
– Fine. Secret?!
That’s it!- Lying is bad, brat! But I’ll hold this. Kiss you.
– Thanks again, Auntie.
– When I become senile you pay me back.We laughed and hung up.
Then I hid the phone. That’s it. I made the device vanish. Like this Tatiana wouldn’t have a way to cancel. I kept it in my super-hyper-mega-hideout: the box where mom gathered all manuals that came with electronic devices. I was the only one who dared touching it. Or the bugs that eat paper.
The day passed by slowly till Auntie picked me up and we went to meet Tatiana. I can’t remember staying so neat for so long like that day, even though I knew the rain would spoil it all. I confess that the short hair was helping in that impression. By the way, hair is an annoying thing.
Finally, she came. Pink dress under a blue jacket. Pink nails, as well. Twenty buttons. Blue purse, necklace, sandals and ear rings. Pony-tail. A big smile!She jigged to the car beside her mom, under the umbrella.
I got a hug and a kiss on my cheek. We were both in the backseat, each one using a part of the bench. My place was scary because Auntie’s big hair was all up, or better saying, all pilled up on the seat.
Tatiana’s mother asked by the passenger’s window:
– Are you sure about this?
– Absolutely. I will get the attention of this couple. – Auntie stated.
– Fine. – The first lady’s mom agreed.
– I’ll call you in our way back.
– Deal. Go in peace.
– Stay in peace you too.They said bye.
I could breath, relieved; I smelled Tatiana cologne water and settled down. What could I say? Auntie came back to rescue me:
– We will dance samba under the rain! Take off your shoes. – And hushed.
Correctly! Already in the second song, Tatiana was dancing samba like crazy and spinning round and round. In the third one I offered myself to keep her jacket.
She was barefoot, with no embarrassment at all. She was no longer the conceited girl from school. Tatiana was like a garden full of roses.
I was just singing:
– ´Brasil, essas nossas verdes matas, cachoeiras e cascatas, de colorido sutil; e este lindo céu azul de anil, emolduram em aquarela o meu Brasil.´(5) I was shaking my shoulders, drumming on my thighs and admiring Tatiana’s dance as much as I could. My thing was just trolling.
Auntie came with bottled water and asked us if we wanted something to eat. Nothing. She was all about dancing and that was enough for me. I could stay there for hours, smiling for no reason. And that’s what happened.
When the rain finally stopped, we had our fingers shrunken. Although she was still excited. Showing all her teeth. Auntie tried to follow her, got tired and gave up.
Nobody could follow Tatiana.
The musicians were the first ones to be hungry and started with the farewell. The parade was over. It was almost evening.
Suddenly, a dark cloud came announcing a storm and everything turned black. Lightning and thunders. Auntie guided us towards the entrance of a gallery and I helped Tatiana dressing back her jacket. Sheltered, we looked at the people running, the rain was making slops and the wind was defoliating the trees. There was a thick layer of dirt under our feet and drops all over our legs. And Tatiana was still pretty.
She came next to me and held my hand. I shook. After the shock I noticed that my first lady was afraid of storms. I stewed my chest and passed my arm over her back and shoulder. I gave her my other hand. She took my hand and at that moment I felt I was really useful.
Then I said one of the smartest things of my life:
– Don’t be afraid. Everything is going to be ok. Be cool. – And I contracted my muscles.
Tatiana smiled at me with gratitude. I had never seen her eyes that big.
Then I found out that Auntie could read minds, because I had finished my speech and I had no idea what to say next.
– Tatiana, you really know things. You dance samba very well. Where did you learn?
– At the jongo school of Mastre Darci, at Serrinha, in Madureira(6), with my cousins. I love dancing.
– I can tell. – Auntie said.
A minute later, she pointed at me:
– You’ve got to teach this brat. What about this?
– It could be. – Tatiana answered.
– When? – I don’t know how, but I said.
There was a huge gap and we all cracked up. Me, the thunder king, I would be forced to dance. How?
When I arrived home, mom was like crazy after the phone. By the way, that’s how she stayed during the storm. I needed to plan something.
No juggler, neither President, I had to turn into a magician by that time. And that’s the way it was: she blinked, and the phone appeared again.
(5) Over medium-low heat, stir vigorously the sweetened condensed milk, margarine and cocoa powder. Cook the mixture until it thickens enough to show the pan bottom during stirring. Pour the mixture in a greased dish and let it cool to room temperature. Take small amounts of the mixture with a teaspoon and make 1 ½ inch balls. Roll the balls over chocolate jimmies to decorate.
(6) Jongo is the precursor of Samba and was brought to Brazilian soil by Angolan slaves. The school was founded in 2000 with the objective to continue the work begun by Maria Joana Rezadeira and Mastre Darcy more than 40 years ago to preserve the Jongo musical heritage while providing social assistance to the low-income community of Serrinha.
I spent the following nights scared with Auntie’s idea. I was always really embarrassed to dance. I had never dared.
Actually, I ended up calming down picturing the President in the same position, with everybody filming and taking pictures. If I wanted to date that girl, I had to gather manhood, promptly. But, panic only took me completely when Tatiana called:
– We have a rehearsal at Império Serrano(7) and my family is going to go. Would you like to go with your Auntie?
– I’ll talk to her. When will it be?- On Saturday.
– Fine. May I ask you something?
– What’s up? – That was almost a twitch.
– Is Paschoa also going?- Of course not… She only watches TV and talks to plants and birds. She speaks about rigs and other old things. She is ninety and mom says she is rusty.
– That’s funny!
– Indeed. As she never remembers me, I always make up a different name. And she always answers the same: ´What a big, beautiful, florid girl! I bet you’re doing great at school!´
– I hear her doing her great grandma’s voice.
– And she forgets me right away. Can you believe it?I guffawed. After calming down, I told her I would call her back soon.
Ok: total desperation. I considered making something up like a broken leg, disease or a death in the family. But I gave up from running away just with the idea of seeing Tatiana dancing.
I invited Auntie, not really knowing what would be better: yes or no. I was a bit afraid, I confess. I thought about the President again and for the first time I saw I was not ready for the position. If it was just floating, at least. But I didn’t know how to dance.Better or worse, Auntie loved the idea; she said yes right away and decided to bring some friends.
On Friday mom asked me what was happening to me, because I couldn’t stand still and I simply couldn’t eat. I didn’t say a word. She asked me about the little balls. I changed subject. By the end, she put me against the wall:
– What’s wrong, boy?
– Tell me! Come on.
– Fine, mom. Tomorrow Tatiana will teach me how to dance samba. She will try, I mean, because I know I am not able to learn.
– Hold on.
Mom got those old and mouldy long plays of hers. That’s it, that type you’ve got to turn to listen to the other side. Museum stuff. But as amazing as it can be, it worked.
I read on the cover: Dona Ivone Lara(8).
Mom stretched her right hand and grabbed my left hand. She took her left hand, got my right hand and made me hold her by her waist. Then she dropped my hand and placed her hand on my shoulder. And she said:
– Two steps right, two steps left. That’s the key for everything. With time it gets better. You’ve got to practice.
I remembered Gaston and how much I practiced for nothing. Three balls?! That’s ok, the President also needed a second shift. I felt clumsy, but floating and feeling like living at the Moon.
Mom was singing and teaching me:
– ´Traz a pureza de um samba, sentido e marcado por mágoa de amor. Um samba que mexe o corpo da gente é o vento vadio embalando a flor…´. Pay attention to your steps! ´Sonho meu, sonho meu…´.(9) I used to lullaby you with this song.
Yes… It was time for me to turn into wind and swing my flower. I needed nerves!
(7) Imperio Serrano is one of the traditional samba schools available in the Rio de Janeiro area. The name, meaning Serrano Empire, was formed by dedicated people with a supreme love of samba and their natural Brazilian culture.
(8) Dona Ivone Lara spent childhood in a boarding school and studied music with Villa-Lobos’ wife, eventually singing in a choir conducted by the maestro. Later, she learned to play the cavaquinho, and in the 40s, Ivone moved to Mangueira, where she met samba musicians. By the end of the decade, she joined Império Serrano samba school, writing sambas-enredo (specific for carnival parades, a samba that tell a complete story) like “Não Me Perguntes” (with Fuleiro) and “Os Cinco Bailes da Corte ou Os Cinco Bailes da História do Rio” (with Silas de Oliveira and Bacalhau). She only managed to make her first album in 1978, after retiring from her job as a nurse.
(9) Sonho Meu, by Dona Ivone Lara and Délcio Carvalho.
Auntie’s car was crowded. I was smashed among her friends. I thought about the last time I was there, in the storm, about the conceited and sweet Tatiana, and about the championship finals awaiting for me there. I had a shiver and it passed as soon as I thought about the President.
I remembered mom’s classes and it almost chilled me.The sky was clear and it made me feel kind of lonely, because I knew how thunders acted on Tatiana and that was the only way to comfort my first lady.
I had never been in a samba school court before and I must say I liked it a lot. Everybody dancing and singing, very loud percussion. It seemed as the walls were moving. I calmed down thinking it would be impossible to find anybody among that crowd and this would set me free from the final embarrassment.
Auntie and her friends sat and left me aside. Every now and then, maybe out of regret, one of them would offer me a soda or ask me if I wanted to go to the toilet.
Later on Auntie asked me:- What about Tatiana?
– I don’t know. Look at this crowd!
– Let’s look for her! – she said, anxious.
– Hold on. In a while. Let me see everything in here. – I said, observing.
– Bold brat! Taking it easy…
And she ran her fingers on my head, a habit of her that I hate.
It took a while to feel a finger touching my back. It was Tatiana in green and white. She was tanned by summer. Her brown curls gathered in a pony-tail shaking over wooden sandals. My legs got weaken and my face turned red. I couldn’t think. Not even talk.
Tatiana grabbed my hand and with a frenetic gesture told Auntie we were going to dance. She, taking her chance, told all her friends what was going on. There went the President, without the support from the storm and embarrassed as he was never before.
When she hugged me and we were going to start dancing, I warned her:
– I danced once in my life. With my mom.
– Calm down and follow me. – ordered the first lady.
I made some mistakes. Started making things right. Until I got it. She yelled at me a bit and even slapped me on my hip. She laughed a lot and just this was enough for me.
Three songs! With her curls tickling my nose. With our hands sweating together. With smiley looks. With cheeks against cheeks. I had never felt like crying of happiness before. Of course I held it.
Then we stopped. We walked to her mom and took her to my Auntie. Everything cleared up and we went back to the dance floor. Not before compliments. We’ve got to be patient!I dance samba floating for the first time. If I was going to be President, I should be president of a samba school. There was Moon. Soon two Moons. And huge ones.
We walked holding hands during the breaks, always having her guiding me, and watched the percussion. I liked specially the agogo.
At a moment, Tatiana pulled me to a corner and gave me a big kiss. Not one of those childish things. A real kiss.I have no idea how long it lasted. All I know is that I floated to the Moon, I flew in the President’s airplane, played like a juggler with my eyes closed, danced samba and felt the best shiver in the world. Finally living was worth it.
Tatiana stopped, looked at my face still holding me and said, smiling:
– What’s up? – that was exactly what I wanted to hear.
– Nothing. – I faced my first lady and searched for her lips again.
Another kiss. A different one.
And then it was over and we went to meet the relatives. We sat down and I shut up. I don’t know what happened. All I could wish was that everyone vanished. Auntie helped me, once for all:
– Let’s go?! It’s late!- Let’s go. – I agreed not knowing for sure what I wanted at that moment.
I called Tatiana for a little chat. A private one. I should ask her to be my valentine. But this time my manhood failed me. I don’t know why, but all I said was:
– See you, we meet at school. – I told her, with a big and stupid face.
– See you. – Tatiana smiled at me; with her eyes shining more than any star.
She kissed each of my cheeks and hugged me tighter that ever. I almost cried. I had to try hard not burst into tears. I thought again about the President and everything was fine again.
I took a deep breath of my first lady’s perfume and left slowly. Stewed chest. From far we were still looking at each other through the crowd.
As soon as I got in the car, I stopped floating because of those nosy women:
– So, did it happen? – said Auntie, by the steering wheel.
The rest of them stared at me and whispered.
– Cool. – I changed subject, quiet and closed.
I was smiling inside. I also asked for the President’s help to hold on and not to tell anything to anyone. The Moon was living inside me.
I was just annoyed by not asking her to be my valentine. I would have to wait.
I came home talking a lot and very proud. The kiss, I kept in my memory and among those manuals. My secret.
Mom just thought it was weird the number of times I asked when the classes started.