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Recently I watched a cheerful movie also named Frozen where, spoiler alert, a skier is ripped apart by wolves. Between the horror, blood and gore, I found myself cheering for them. No, I’m not a sociopath. You see, two weeks ago, my dog Indy died of leishmaniasis. He was a beautiful three-year-old Siberian Husky.

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Although not the sharpest of dogs (Average Working/Obedience Intelligence), huskies are an amazing breed full of history and heroic feats, very friendly and joyful. Bred for speed, work and agility by the Chukchis (semi-nomadic, reindeer-hunting people of extreme north-eastern Siberia), huskies have a happy disposition and work incredibly well together. They’re fierce in extreme conditions and low-maintenance in terms of food (thanks to their closeness to wolves). If you needed more power, you could add more dogs: 18 or 20 dogs could be hitched to a single sled, without fighting, which wasn’t possible with other breeds. And I find it adorable that their husky mothers would help train entire litters in the art of sledding.

In the 1930s, the Soviets tried to destroy every vestige of non-Soviet culture, including the dog breeds. Thankfully, the artic explorer Olaf Swenson exported the huskies to North America, saving them from disappearance. In 1909, very few people knew the Siberian Huskies in Alaska, when, against all bets made, a team of nine huskies arrived at third place in the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race. They couldn’t believe it. The small and light huskies proved them all wrong. Balto, the husky, and the Great Race of Mercy is an incredible story of perseverance, in which a great relay sled race took place across Alaska, to provide medical serum essential to assist in a deadly epidemic.

Last, but not least, Siberian Huskies are gorgeous. They have triangular, upright ears, and their double coating can have any color, from pure white to pure black, combinations included. Their eyes also have a lot of variety: blue, brown, green, amber, etc., and even mixed. They’re very silent, and when they make some noise, it’s mainly a howl. Our dog howled when he wanted to go outside. Their fluffy, fox-like tails evolved that way to protect their noses in extreme coldness: they lie with the nose covered in tail fur, making the famous and beautiful siberian swirl.

Indy

I know, I know. Nowadays, buying a dog isn’t the right thing to do. Ironically, the right thing to do is to adopt the bought dogs other people abandoned. I get that. Honestly. Mixed dogs are genetically superior, more intelligent, and will love you as deeply as any full-breed dog would. Buying or adopting a mixed dog is better for the species as a whole. Still, I loved owning a Siberian Husky.

With breeds, you can read all about them, where they came from, their expected personality, who they fit best, and so on. I loved watching a friendly wolf stretch in my living room. It was funny every time. I loved even more when he had the hiccups, snored, or breathed with his tongue out. He wasn’t very obedient, but he was the friendliest. I miss him deeply. How many times did I sing this while hugging him? Not enough, that’s how many.

I found out that their howl, at full power, could be heard at great distances. I shivered, thinking what could the animal be feeling, so tragic, or alarming, that he’d have the need to howl in such a way. I thought that I wouldn’t want to see that happening. Thankfully, it never did. The last painful howl wasn’t his.

Indy’s proper goodbye would have had some of his distant relatives howling in a chorus.

Feeling like he could be sick on the fucking bus at any moment, Charlie closed his eyes and tried to tame his stupid stomach. What a fucking disgrace it would be, and all thanks to the pills he took this morning. Fucking pills. Fucking teeth. The anesthesia could disguise the pain of ripping a vile tooth from the bone, but the feeling of ingrained uselessness remained.

What a fucking mess of mouth, the dentist must have thought. With a couple of stitches on the new crater, and a never-ending flow of blood to swallow, Charlie traversed through a sea of people on the smelly, noisy, disgusting bus station. As he sat down on a disease-ridden waiting room, where time wasn’t the only thing passing, he pulled the phone from his pocket.

Shit! The fucking loudspeaker is high as fuck. A drunk, or junkie?, is repeating it loud for everybody, like it was fucking needed. That won’t work your way into me giving you money, Charlie said to himself.

He could read something. But the stomach wouldn’t digest a word of it. Writing something, though… Maybe he could write a few sentences, somewhere. He had a phone. What could he blurt about?

Fucking loudspeaker! What’s their problem?

He could write, but not about this hellhole, or himself. Charlie doesnt’t like when art starts spiraling in itself. He can’t stand it. Like films about filmmakers, or shorts with abnoxious, intellectual, unintelligible smokers as protagonists. Books with pretty misunderstood lady bookworms as leads; plays about actors dilemmas or playwright’s drunken stupor, music about drugged musicians’ descent to madness.

Fighters fight. Fishermen fish. Builders build. We, Charlie defended, use what we know to tell stories.

Give him their look on others instead! Make them mirror life through their eyes, and not only their lives. Expand your horizons. Look for your next interest. Study something other than art and then make art. Apply your passion and knowledge on other crafts and then surprise him.

Take him to the far reaches of space. To the top of Kilimanjaro or the depth of a mining disaster. Show him a monk’s pilgrimage through the unknown. Give him a murder mistery. Sing stories and people you knew and heard of. Lullaby Charlie. Scare the shit out of him. Give him wonder and then rip it out, like the fucking tooth from Hell. Describe the love of your life to Charlie, and feel him dying inside. Our story isn’t ours. We are here to tell other stories. Someone, if you’re lucky and worth it, will tell your own.

But Charlie needed to vent, to unload all of his frustrations somewhere, and the boxing bag and gloves are many miles away. Maybe creating a character-form punching bag? With the first mediocre name that came to his mind. And- Fucking loudspeaker! SHUT UP! Shut up…

He could cry. Easily. Not much sleep. Being lonely and distant helps you lose your grip. Being a human being has its perks and its nuisances. Needing a hug is the easiest disease to cure, and the worst to leave unattended.

Why, asked Charlie, is he writing in English? Why another name? Why not himself? Why is he hiding? Does he need to hide? Who is he hiding from? Why all the camouflage?

A gipsy woman is asking for money. Shit music is playing. The smell of gas and perspiration could kill someone, let alone the actual urge to do it.

Why hide? Well. The skin is exposed. Blood is pouring out, leaving a salty taste on the half-brushed mouth, and a world of passengers and buses hurrying around him couldn’t care less.

The sun was dizzying and the path was unforgiving. I felt very hot, increasingly tired, and my damned water bottle was empty. Forgetting to refill it before those last 7 kilometers was, in retrospect, a rookie mistake. Step by step, with a ghost-like expression on my face, I hurried to my unknown destination. Where was I going? Why was I alone, thirsty, walking painfully towards the smallest of villages in Spain, in a terribly hot afternoon, in May?

I wish I could answer that truthfully. The truth is I can’t.

Last April, I embarked on a one-off journey that would last 35 days. I felt a gloomy, worrying sensation on my spine, when I saw my parents leave me at the Campanhã station in Porto, waiting for a middle-of-the-night train that would take me two countries away. Why?

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