Sagarana

– João Guimarães Rosa, translated by Oliveira Simões

— Also, those who are busy with politics shouldn’t bother to waste their time with the lovey-dovey stuff. But, thank you much, Seu* Oscar. You, Sir, have been like a father through all of this. Now, Sir, do you wanna hear the song I’ve been writing for you?

But Seu Oscar didn’t want to hear anything at all. He left Lalino on the porch, and went to talk to the old man, taking advantage of the fact that Uncle Laudonius wasn’t there at the moment. Major Anacletus was reading over, for the twenty-third time, a telegram from Compadre** Vieira, Mayor of the Town, along with transcriptions of another telegram, from the Secretary of the Interior, which in turn had been inspired by the notes that the President had taken from the prior-to-the-first telegram, from a fellow Minister. And the thing had been taking shape, from a dracocratic-despotic-coactive style to a cabalistic-statistical one, and from there to a messianic-palimpsestic-paraphrastic one, then to a procrastinating-nepotistic-recollective style, and finally, from a pot to a bowl, from a funnel to a bottleneck, the initial broth turned into a thick soup, most substantial and efficient, all of this in parentheses, to show that politics is an air that’s easy to breathe, but only for the insiders, ‘cause the outsiders are asphyxiated by it, and they will eventually give up.

Seu: abbreviated form of Senhor, which roughly corresponds to Mr. in English, normally placed before a man’s first name.

** Compadre: In Portuguese, it’s the relation between a father and the godfather of his son or daughter.

Sagarana – João Guimarães Rosa

… Também, gente que anda ocupada com política não tem nada que ficar perdendo tempo com dengos. Mas, muito obrigado, seu Oscar. O senhor tem sido meu pai nisso tudo. Quer escutar agora o hino que estou fazendo p’ra o senhor?

Mas seu Oscar não queria escutar coisa nenhuma. Deixou Lalino na varanda, e foi falar com o velho, aproveitando a oportunidade de Tio Laudônio no momento não estar lá. Major Anacleto relia — pela vigésima-terceira vez — um telegrama do Compadre Vieira, Prefeito do Município, com transcrições de um outro telegrama, do Secretário do Interior, por sua vez inspirado nas anotações que o Presidente do Estado fizera num anteprimeiro telegrama, de um Ministro conterrâneo. E a coisa viera do estilo dragocrático-mandalógico-coactivo ao cabalístico-estatístico, daí para o messiânico-palimpséstico-parafrástico, depois para o cozinhativo-compadresco-recordante, e assim, de caçarola a tigela, de funil a gargalo, o fino fluido inicial se fizera caldo gordo, mui substancial e eficaz, tudo isto entre parênteses, para mostrar que a política é ar fácil de se respirar — mas para os de casa, que os de fora nele abafam, e desistem.