19 maio 2022

Short story: The solution

O primeiro post sobre literatura traz um conto de uma das autoras brasileiras mais premiadas e respeitadas do século XX – Clarice Lispector. “A solução”, conto extraído do livro A legião estrangeira, foi traduzido em várias línguas e aborda a estranha relação de amizade entre Almira e Alice, cujas características não poderiam ser mais díspares e cuja solução para tal história só poderia ser o fim dado pela autora.
Então, apreciem e comentem.

          She was called Almira and she had grown much too fat. Alice was her best friend. At least that was what she anxiously told everyone, wishing to compensate for the lack of affection she received from Alice.
          Alice was pensive and smiled without listening to Almira, as she went on typing.
         The more Alice’s friendship waned, the more intense Almira’s friendship became. Alice had an oval face with skin like velvet. Almira’s nose was shiny. Almira’s face betrayed an eagerness which had never occurred her to conceal; the same eagerness she showed for food, her most direct contact with the world.
          Why Alice tolerated Almira, no one could understand. They were both typists and workmates, but that did not explain anything. They took their coffee breaks together, but even that did not explain anything. They left the office together at the same time and waited for a bus at the same queue. Almira always dancing attendance upon Alice. The latter, aloof and dreamy, allowing herself to be adored. Alice was small and delicate. Almira had a broad face, sallow and greasy: lipstick did not last long on her lips, for she was one of those girls who eat their lipstick unitentionally.
          – I thoroughly enjoyed the programme sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Almira said, trying to ingratiate herself somehow. But Alice received everything as if it were due, including the cultural programme sponsored by the Ministry of Education. Only Almira’s nature was delicate. With that huge body of hers, she was capable of losing a whole night’s sleep because of some word that would have been left unsaid. And a piece of chocolate could suddenly taste bitter in her mouth at the thought that she might have been unjust. She was never without a piece of chocolate in her handbag, always apprehensive that she might have given offence. It was not a question of goodness. Probably a case of weak nerves in a weak body.
          On the morning of the day the incident occurred, Almira went rushing out to work, still chewing a piece of bread. When she arrived at the office, she looked at Alice’s desk only to discover that she was not there. An hour later, Alice appeared, her eyes red from weeping. She refused to offer any explanations and made no reply to Almira’s anxious questions. Almira almost wept into her typewriter.
          At last it was time for lunch, and Almira pleaded with Alice to join her and offered to pay. It was precisely during this lunch that the incident happened.
          Almira continued to question Alice why she had arrived late for work and why her eyes were red. Broken-hearted, Alice could scarcely bring herself to speak. Almira ate avidly and went on insisting, her eyes filled with tears.
          – You fat bitch! Alice turned on her, white with rage. Can’t you leave me in peace?
          Almira choked on her food, tried to speak and began stuttering. From Alice’s soft lips had come words which refused to go down, just like the food which was stuck in the throat of Almira G. de Almeida.
          – You’re a bloody nuisance and always poking your nose into other people’s affairs, Alice exploded once more. You want to know what happened, don’t you?
          Well, I’ll tell you, Miss Nosey Parker. Zequinha has gone off to Porto Alegre and he isn’t coming back! Are you satisfied, fatty?
          In truth, Almira appeared to have grown even fatter during the last few minutes, with the food still stuck in her throat.
          And then she suddenly came to life. With surprising agility for one so fat, she grabbed a fork and embedded it in Alice’s neck. Everybody in the restaurant, as the newspapers subsequently reported, rose to their feet at the same time. But fat Almira, even after the assault, remained seated gazing at the floor oblivious to the fact that Alice was losing blood.
          Alice was rushed to hospital, from where she emerged with her neck all bandaged, her eyes staring in horror. Almira was arrested on the spot.
          Some people insinuated that there was something odd about their relationship. While others, friends of the family, related that Almira’s grandmother, Dona Altamiranda, had been a very eccentric old woman. No one remembered that elephants, according to the experts on the subject, are extremely sensitive creatures, right down to their great feet.
          Committed to prison, Almira proved to be docile and contented, a little melancholy perhaps, but truly contented. She was unfailingly kind to other inmates. At last she had friends. She was put in charge of the laundry and got on extremely well with the prison warders, who from time to time would slip her a bar of chocolate. Just as if she were a circus elephant.
LISPECTOR, Clarice. ‘The Solution’. In.: ___________. The foreign legion. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero. Manchester: Carcanet, 1986.

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