The man with the big white beard is busy. Trampling down the cans which are stored in a huge plastic bag. All the moves he does are made in a very conscious and slow manner. This day I make an interesting encounter.
It seems like he’s meditating. ‚Could I ask you something?’, I break the silence. Like he’s still meditating he replies ‚sure’. I somehow like his beard, the way he moves, his calm voice and its atmosphere. I sit down and quickly ask the question which is always the most interesting for me. ‘What is your Dream?’. He smiles and then tells me that he really wants to win the lottery. This handsome guy obviously is homeless and so I expected something like ‘I want house, a safe harbor, food etc.’. I got similar thoughts in my head when I met Alexandre a couple months before. But in the end the big-money-Dream makes sense. Money is the currency of our system. To win the lottery means for him winning the freedom to do almost anything. But in consideration of the fact that the odds are terribly tiny this Dream sounds weird to me. Is it worth it to invest that much money and hope into that game on 49 numbers? I don’t know, but as each single person on this planet represents an own universe I’d like to share more time with this lovely being. Then I may find out the reason for his lottery affinity. Suddenly I remember another Dreamer. I wonder what Rinaldo would have said as he told me that getting older is his single Dream. He told me having a long white beard – that would be something huge!
Beware of the weirdo
The man in the mid-fifties introduces himself as Gilberto, takes a zip of cachaça and tells about the strange guy who lives in the same street as he does. This weirdo robs clothes of him and his friends, afterwards he vanishs and then comes back with completely new clothes nobody has seen before. ‘It’s obvious that he does trade the robbed clothes with other dudes. What a shark he is’, Gil swears.
On top of that his blankets were stolen a couple of days ago. An interesting circumstance: I left the house that day with the proposition to give my tent away to somebody who really make use of it. I already got the tent with me and so I offer it to him. Indeed, he appreciate that gift and I feel that the universe put things together fluently.
‘Let’s go to the recycling center’, Gilberto offers me going there together. While we have been talking he trampled down every single can he had and filled a whole plastic bag. It seems that he wants to make some cash now. I am curious about the recycling center and so we start moving. One time Gilberto stops, his right hand is looking for something in his pockets and finds the small plastic bottle which contains cachaça – sugar cane booze. With a stony-face he let’s me know this: ‘I am very conscious about drinking this drink of a hell. I’ve seen too many friends who got killed by this. You need to have control of it, otherwise it gonna destroy you.’
One, two quick zips he takes this time, puts the bottle cover and walks ahead. Gilberto lives on the brink of loosing control as it seems to me. Even though he’s very conscious with booze quantity. A bit later I comment on his cap. Gilberto replies sadly: ‘I used to wear a magician hat for years, but it got stolen.’ I advise him to buy a new one. ‘I rebought this hat 8 times, it got stolen 8 times. It’s useless’, Gilberto negates my proposal.
As we arrive at the recycling center the appearance of people does totally change. Needless to say that this spot is predestinated for the poor and vagabonds. For the lost and crazy ones. A transgender with make-up (applicated in a loveless way) stands right at the entrance. A man with only three teeth, dirty trousers and a big bag full of cans hurries along the entrance.
We walk up to the 1st floor and a burly man receives the cans, people almost scream when they talk, but they really like each other. Gilberto throw his big can bag on a big white plastic box. The burly man puts it all on the scale. ‘2.05 kg; 4,70R$’. Pay-out. Gilberto receives the money cash, a lot of coins.
We’re outside, back on the streets. ‘What we gonna do with that money?’, I want to know. Gilberto smiles and responses in a short way. ‘lottery. Let’s play some games’.
Gilberto checking ‘his’ numbers once again
I just can’t believe it. Gilberto invested so many hours to receive that 4,7 R$ and now he’s going to throw it. We find a small lottery shop. A couple of people are lined up and as there is a problem with a client the other people start getting nervous. Gilberto doesn’t. And when it’s his turn he says ‘good afternoon’. It’s almost 7 pm so the woman behinds the window starts laughing. ‘Good evening’, she says. Gilberto pays two ‘games’ and transfers 3 R$ to the woman. He always plays the same numbers, of course, and he plays every day because he could never forgive himself if his numbers would win the lottery and he just did not participate. Once, he says, he won 2,000 R$ and invested this money for brand new chairs and desks for his bar he had. But not too much time later he had to give up his bar because there were too many complaints of his neighbours. Drunken people rarely care about being silent.
We’re outside, back on the streets, and I get reflective. ‘Gilberto, are you happy?’, I ask. The way he looks at me is priceless. ‘Of course I am’, Gilberto tells me with a soft tone. The way he tells me these four words does not allow me any doubts on it. He truly is. Gilberto’s life anyhow reminds me on the well known Sisysphos myth. A guy rolling a huge stone up the hill. Every single day. And when he arrives on top of the hill he let the stone roll off the mountain.
‘I am the biggest vagabond of São Paulo’, Gilberto tells me proudly. There are so many people who help him, people give plenty of cans to him and restaurant owners offer food. ‘Let’s go to a place where I get coffee for free!’, Gilberto’s knows all these spots in big São Paulo a professional vagabond needs to know.
One must imagine Gilberto happy.
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