house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

There, but for the Grace

In search of chocolate and bananas at Coca Hipermercado, we see Bruno the Builder. He walks with a limp, looks frail, two-days' growth of beard on a drawn face.

'Bruno, hey! How's it going?'
'Mmh. Haven't been too well.' In place of his usual booming voice, a whisper.
In true Portuguese style, a plethora of medical information follows, dramatic in content, meek in delivery.
'I'm so sorry.'
I'm more than sorry, I'm shocked. This man was a force of nature, boundless energy and confidence. He worked, planned, talked, ordered people about, was everywhere, never stopped. So I ask:
'And the work?'
'What work?' he asks back.
He spits out an update on the state of the economy, and how it's affecting his business these days. It's even more shocking, and he's not even incensed.
'At this time of year, I used to have 8-9 months' worth of work booked up. This year, I'm lucky if there's work for the next month.'
Raises his eyebrows high, high, lets them drop back down again.

More than a vertebra is crushed inside this man.

Sometimes I wonder how we cross each day, with this kind of weight on our shoulders. How much of it is pain, how much fear, how much uncertainty how much defeat. How quick the journey is from the top of the world to any kind of hell.

How there, but for the grace of God, go I.


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