The Little Candle Usher

The audience that shortly before had shouted, booed, kicked chairs now exploded in applause and happy shouts.

Certain things, certain facts we do not forget and over time it seems they become clearer in our memory. We can easily forget what happened yesterday, but old facts are stored and from time to time they jump to the front layer that form our memory and then, for a certain period of time take hold of us. Just takes a smell, an image, one word for these things, these facts to come out of the lethargic state that were in to be feel again, bringing with them the same or greater emotion.

This event did not happen to me, in reality I cannot say with any certainty that it actually happened. I read this story in a Fernando Sabino’s chronicle and never forgot, because I always thought it incorporated very well the spirit of the Brazilian, the Carioca.

Fernando Sabino was a brilliant writer from Minas Gerais a state in Brazil, who soon after adolescence went to live in Rio de Janeiro, a circumstance that influenced the chronicles he had been writing since he was 13 years old. He wrote novels such as The Daft, Boy on the Mirror, The Date and many others, but his chronicles, compiled in some books such as The Naked Man, The Neighbor’s Wife, Best Chronicles of Fernando Sabino were the ones I liked t most. He died in 2004 and chose for his tombstone a phrase that I identify with and wish could be mine. “Here lies Fernando Sabino, who was born a man and died a boy.” It rimes in Portuguese.

The book that contained the chronicle I don’t have anymore, I think the title of the text was “The Little Usher”, I do not remember, but I remember the story well and I will tell it using my my own words, if Fernando Sabino doesn’t mind. I’ll call the story “The Little Candle Usher”, you’ll know later why.

It happened a long time ago, in a movie theater in Rio de Janeiro one of those old theaters that was right on the street close to the beach. The movie hadn’t even reached the middle when the screen fills with a white light and a noise, trac, trac, of a film that came out of the roll was heard, the screen immediately turns dark, bringing total darkness to the theater. After an initial silence, the sound of palms begin, loud whistles, kicking of the chairs followed by cries of “I want my money back, I want my money back”.

This is when a figure shows up walking in the side aisle heading towards the screen carrying a small lit candle.

The noise pauses momentarily, but resumes as soon as the figure climbs the small staircase to reach the stage that was just before the screen. There, the figure calls for silence and informs that the neighborhood lost power, causing burning of the film and that it would not be possible to continue with the session because even if the power is restored, the film had burned.

People did not move from their chairs.

The figure, The Little Candle User, who was the theater usher, said then: “We will return the ticket money, but you will have to be patient and wait for the power to be restored.”

The whistling, shouting and kicking resumed. After a short break, The Little Candle Usher continued, “Look, I’ve watched this movie countless times, if you want, while the power is out, I can recount the rest of the movie.”

This unexpected proposal was met with applause and signs of approval.

The Little Candle Usher who seems to have received the spirit of some famous actor, recounted the rest of the film, portraying the various characters and voices. He was so convincing that in the middle of his interpretation the power came back, but the audience asked him to continue.

When he finished he received an standing ovation.

It took took a long time for the theater goers to leave the theater, and when they did, they did not ask for their money back.

Isn’t that a wonderful story? I hope that my appropriation of  Fernando Sabino’s tale, encourages you reader to look for his books.


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