THE JOURNEY: THOUGHTS: Amarildo

<p> </p>

 

October 2013 

I've been thinking this afternoon. I’ve been thinking, after returning on the bus from the top of Rocinha (in the worst part, not far from where I lived with Celina, in Portao Vermelho) and especially when arriving back in Copacabana. No adjustment, transition or acclimation. I've been thinking lately about the occasional absurdity of everything. 

Commander Edson Santos (the deposed police of the UPP), a guy who played with a group of children in front of the camera, while I was interviewing him last year, made a good impression on me. A guy who, despite being serious was a nice guy, I would have sworn. A guy who nobody bad-mouthed before I went to meet Amarildo's neighbours today. A guy who surely knows into how many pieces Amarildo was cut up and where those pieces are buried. 

This afternoon, while photographing Anderson (Amarildo's son) in the home which he shared with his mother, I asked him what he thought had really happened to his father and why he disappeared less than two months ago. At the same time, some children were playing outside the open front door. One of them, Anderson’s cousin, no more than 8 years old, passed between us while we were chatting.  

-“O Amarildo esta morto” (Amarildo is dead), he said half singing and continued on playing with the rest of the children. 

I thought Anderson was going to burst into tears, because for a second he seemed to lose the thread of the conversation and stay silent. It was as if, in that exact moment, the full realization of what had actually happened to his father hit him. Instead, he pulled out his iPod and hit play. It was a funk song, composed by a guy from Rocinha, about what happened to Amarildo. 

- "O cara e amigo meu” (This dude is my friend), he said proudly, speaking of the composer.  

Impassive, Anderson kept talking about everything that occurred, without a hint of hatred or worry in his voice, like someone accustomed to frequently retelling a tale. After we finished, we decided to accompany him and his mother to a nearby market to buy them some food before we left. While we walked through Rocinha, we began to talk about his recent career as a model. He was a muscular, tall guy with blue eyes. He said he was delighted with his recent fame. You could tell he wasn’t in the least bit uncomfortable in front of a camera.We passed through a narrow street where the play between light and shadow was great. I told him to walk on ahead a little, so I could photograph him while strolling there. Suddenly a blonde girl leaving her house started talking with him, laughing.  

- "O Jr. fico famoso!” (Jr. became famous!), she shouted jokingly and flirtatiously. - "Esa loira? estamos enamorando” (That blondie? we're falling in love), he told me, as we keep heading down.  

It was only a little while later that I realized we were talking, laughing, about the success he's having with women, now that he's a model. Not less than 20 minutes ago he was telling me how he thought his father couldn’t stand the beating of the UPP soldiers, while he was tortured. And that's why he died. 

I would like to say that I have been thinking today about something serious or very transcendental. Dunno, maybe about people's ability to overcome, to fight, to ignore or simply forget that which they don’t want to see or which hurts them. Or maybe in the resilience of humans, in adapting to their environment, forgetting anything that is not useful or immediate. I’d be lying to you if I said I did.  

I've only been thinking about how absurd it all is. 

(Author's Diary)