“Mr.” Moacyr was visiting his friend when in the corner of his eye he saw an history book. He took the book in his hands, and immediately began to tremble his whole body, giving the greatest scare to the friend and his wife. After several seconds still fearing, he turned around himself as if he were dancing, his eyes rolled back, he dropped the book, and wham! fainted.
They rushed mr. Moacyr to emergency care. In the hospital room, after several hours, he opened his eyes.
“Where am I?”
He saw his wife, children, daughters-in-law and sons-in-law beside him, all with a serious face, showing concern.
“You are in the hospital,” said his wife in a soft, paused voice, trying to hide her anguish. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine, with a little headache”
Soon the doctor arrived and was immediately surrounded by the family.
“He’s fine, we haven’t found anything unusual with him so far. I’ve asked for some tests and depending on the outcome he’ll be able to go home.”
He went home, in addition to the slightly high blood pressure, but consistent with his age, the tests did not show any abnormality. Electrocardiogram showed regular heartbeat, good cholesterol, good glucose, all normal.
Well, almost everything normal, because after that episode mr. Moacyr changed completely. The family did not notice the first signs, did not notice when he began to search the house for Brazilian history books.
He read all he could find.
He started going to libraries, went virtually every day, by subway, because at age 70, he didn’t have pay for the ticket. He brought the books to read at home, and as soon as he finished reading one, went back to the library to request another one.
When in the avidity of reading and learning, mr. Moacyr began spending much of the day in the library the family became apprehensive. One afternoon he did not return, after dinner, the first the familiy remembered without mr. Moacyr, his wife, son and daughter left in a hurry, agonized to try to find him.
The son, after much searching, finally found him in the largest library in the city, which offered night service, leaning on top of the book “Casa Grande e Senzala”, a saga of Brazilian slaves, almost crying.
From then on, they started watching him, they wouldn’t let him go out. They started a book retrieving system so he could read in the apartment or in the common area without having to leave the building.
Someone came up with the idea.
“Why don’t we buy him one of these book-reading tablets?”
Mr. Moacyr sometimes used the computer, but he didn’t like it. Too complicated. However, a tablet made specifically to read books was much easier, in addition it had a white screen which allowed to read in any light and importantly, it would avoid comings and goings to libraries.
Mr. Moacyr loved the new tool and started using the tablet right away. The tablet came loaded with the thousand and eight hundred, books of Laurentino Gomes, in reality three books titled, 1808, 1822 and 1889, covering that period of the Brazilian history, with the promise that, with the tablet, he could access any book that he wanted. It was connected to the Internet.
Only that in the eyes of the family, mr. Moacyr got a lot worse.
When he discovered that Emperor Dom Pedro I, abdicated the Brazilian throne, to go to Portugal to fight Don Miguel who wanted to take over the Portuguese rein, a conflict that became known as the Portuguese Civil War or War of the two Brothers, mr. Moacyr went to his brother’s house to fight with him. For no apparent reason, just because he was his brother.
He started eating sardines, just sardines, nothing else. The wife offered to prepare the dish with some onions, olive oil, tomato. He said no. How about a piece of bread to go with it? He didn’t t think so either. No one was getting it. Until the daughter figure it out.
“Wouldn’t it be because of the well-known story of what happened to the first Brazilian bishop?”
“What do you mean?” everyone asked in amazement
“The Dom Pedro Fernandes Sardinha, the one who was eaten by the Caetés Indians in 1556.” Maybe his last name “Sardine” triggered the event.
“That must be it” said the son “He only thinks about Brazilian history now”
They took mr. Moacyr back to the hospital, thought he had a head tumor or some worse condition, certainly something was affecting his brain.
The neurologist interviewed mr. Moacyr, ordered CT scans, MRI, analyzed the possibility of Alzheimer’s and after digesting all the reports, declared mr. Moacyr sound, without any mental problem.
The tests helped. He stopped eating only sardines.
In the days that followed surveillance over mr. Moacyr increased, he could only go to the bathroom alone.
With the passage of time, however, seeing mr. Moacyr calmer, always reading, surveillance was relaxed. One day his wife decided to go to the supermarket and left him alone in the apartment. When she returned, she found him wrapped in a dark-colored sheet, with a knife in his hand, fighting government soldiers. They did not know if he had incarnated Father Cicero the devout Antônio Conselheiro, figures of Brazilian history that fought against the government. He couldn’t be Lampião, a well known Brazilian outlaw, he was holding a knife, not a rifle.
With no other alternative, the family appealed to the occult. A healer, a sorceress. They paid the sorceress to kill a goat in a ritual. It didn’t work.
They thought it would be good for mr. Moacyr to spend time on the beach. Maybe the sea air could help.
They rent a little house by the beach.
It helped, mr. Moacyr started to read less. He used to go to the beach in the morning, without the tablet for fear of losing it or someone stealing, and in the afternoon, he would read, but only after lunch and a nap.
What the family also didn’t realize is that mr. Moacyr learned how to use the tablet to do research, surf the internet. He wasn’t limited to books anymore. His interest continued to be Brazilian history, but now much more expanded.
He went through paleontology studying the first inhabitants of Brazil, those who left petroglyphs and cave paintings, then the various indigenous nations, the discovery, colonization, the slaves, the empire, the republic, everything, until the present day.
A sunny morning, walking along the beach with his wife, they encountered a large fishing boat. The fishermen were there, but the boat was empty. Mr. Moacyr ran, got on the boat, loosened the restraints and started screaming:
“Raise the sails, we are leaving, by the Emperor, first to Salvador then São Luis”
The fishermen helped his wife take him to the beach house. When the mother reported what happened to her son and daughter, they came to the conclusion, after accessing the tablet, that mr. Moacyr was impersonating that corsair who would become Marquis of Maranhão, title given by Dom Pedro I to the Englishman Thomas Cochrane, after Thomas had conquered Salvador a city in the north or Brazil and sacked the city of São Luís in northern state of Maranhão, at the behest of Dom Pedro I, to fight the Portuguese who rebelled against Brazilian independence.
The fun at beach was over, family decided to return to the apartment in the city, and without consulting any doctor began to give every day, hidden along with food, a tranquilizer for mr. Moacyr.
He calmed down, but the episodes continued. From time to time he embodied one character, then another.
One occasion he stopped bathing, and went on to consume avidly, fried chicken. He started carrying drumsticks in his pockets. He smelled like frying, mixed with bs, body smell. When he declared the ports open, they discovered that he had received the spirit of Dom João VI the Portuguese king that fleeing Napoleon set foot in Brazil, transferring the entire Portuguese court to Rio de Janeiro. They hired two strong nurses to visit the apartment, every other day, and force him to bathe.
It lasted about a month. The nurses overreacted when they gave their Moacyr a boiling bath and then an ice bath, and unknowingly lost their job. In the face of this suffering, the spirit of Don João abandoned the body of mr. Moacyr.
The family was horrified when in another incident he spread black shoe polish on his face and tried to leave the apartment playing Zumbi dos Palmares, an slave that started Palmares, a community of slaves that flee slavery. Imagine the buzz that could have occurred in the building if they hadn’t stopped him. These days, the whole family could be considered racist, people could even organize demonstrations in front of the building, family could be evicted.
A sunny hot Sunday, the residents of the building descended in high numbers to the pool, many people coming and going. Mr. Moacyr, arrived with his wife, he with the tablet trying to find some empty chair or sun lounger, when he encountered Maria Luiza, Marilú or simply Lú as she was known in the building also looking for a place to stay.
“Good morning mr. Moacyr” said to Lú without looking at his wife. Mr. Moacyr, due to the constant raptures, was a celebrity in the building.
Lú was something. She was rocking a wonderful body that barely fit in that bikini, costume that should have be banned in a residential building like that. Mr. Moacyr stopped for a while to admire the monument.
“Good morning” replied and extending his arm, held Lú’s hand.
That’s all it took. To the astonishment of all pool goers, mr. Moacyr began shaking his whole body as if he were dancing, dropped the tablet, turn around himself, his eyes rolled back, and wham!, fainted.
Lú, without realizing, cured mr. Moacyr from his Brazilian history obsession, however…