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  God gracious!
Not a drop of rain over three months, a drought never seen before around these lands. Over here the rain is a constant companion over the whole year, so, people got miffed about the lack of heavenly water, specially the people from boroughs that in spite of being also fishers, mainly survive by harvesting their sparse crops to make ends meet. Of rain, not a glimpse! The sky presented itself in immaculate texture, an absolute blue without the smallest blemish of a cloud that could promise some showers. The air, oh the air... so still that you could cut it with a knife, not the smallest whiff of a breeze to sway the boughs and dried leaves hanging disconsolately from the aching trees.

The whole region was equally affected by the drought but the dwellers at the Toninhas beach complained the most, theyr argument was that the sands of that beach was hotter than of the others, capable of literally frying the soles of their bare feet so that everybody there always kept their feet on the "jundu" grass that somehow manages to survive on the upper parts of the strip of sand.

There, people said, one could see the plantations yellowing relentlessly under the piercing rays of the sun. Even the small waterfall, usually always ripe and eager to descend the slope, dwindled down to a small rivulet of lazy water tormenting the housewives that everyday stood waiting at its foot to collect their daily water ration.

A reckless drought it was, indeed!

And the fishing? Also gone. Every day the fishers went out to the sea to collect their basic food and by noon they were back , disconsolated with what they catched, small stuff that normally was left over for the vultures yet now they were obliged to take home. "Yes - said Tonico Honorato, the patriarch of Toninha beach, and therefore respected and obeyed, - this is a curse and the innocent pay for the sinners, there's no more respect, no more decency!
Nobody keeps his word anymore! The churches are empty... for these people God seems not to exist and his commandments are worthless... its a curse!!

Whatever Tonico Honoratao said at Toninhas was taken as sacred. When he said that such hardship was a curse, only a prayer could help, eventually.
Meanwhile believers prayed for the miracle of a redeeming rainfall, Júlio and Camilo,two nail and flesh buddies from the neighbourhood, started to notice Marinho's strange behaviour, he was also their close friend, but lately been absent uttering unacceptable excuses for strolling around alone.
They became intrigued with his errands. More so because while the fishing was almost resultless for everybody, Marinho's tackles always hooked the apparently so rare fishes. How come? He didn't row out to the sea with the others in the early morning hours, but stayed home looking uselessly after his dwindling and dried crops. But then, by early afternoon they could see him climbing over rocks at the cliffs with his fishing gear up to the Itapecericuçu promontory, from where he came back with his hamper filled with fish, enough to feed the family and even give some for free to his neighbours.

As for Júlio and Camilo - they thought to have solved the mystery: the rich fishing ground was obviously by the Itapecericuçu, so the solution was to get there and hook the fish. To avoid miffing their friend, they went there with utmost care, sometimes very early in the morning, some times at deep in the night. But, interestingly enough, they could stay there for hours and hours, but the result was always the same: a few little fishes not even big enough to fill a pan. Why - they asked each other - we, as seasoned anglers simply can't achieve the results of our shifty friend?
Coinvinced that a major secret had to be unveiled, one night they went there early andhidingin the ferns waiting for Marinho's arrival.

After a seemingly endless stakeout, they finally saw him coming and establishing himself on a flat rocky platform almost at sealevel. Fact was, that instead of assuming the traditional anglers stance and pose, he kept looking dreamily at the sea letting his feet be licked by foamy little waves that splashed over the rock.
At a certain moment a major disturbance in the water foamed up close to him, and from the deep emerged a beautiful woman, who totally nude effortlessly climbed the cliff with her long hair streaked with seaweed barely covering her most atttractive features.

Unable to close their gaping mouths, they saw both falling into an embrace that considerably raised the general temperature around that spot for long and misty moments.

What woman was that - they asked themselves- - so charming and outstandingly beautiful that raised from the sea, and with gestures as if she were unable to speak released herself languidly into the passionate embrace of Marinho? No, certainly it was not one of those treacherous mermaids that lured fishers into the depths with their mischievous chants. No, that woman was perfect! A structural work of sensual art that seemed to remain forever entwined with Marinho's trembling limbs, until she suddenly freed herself from his relucting arms and dived in a perfect rainbow arch dissapearing into the emerald sea.

Then, Marino started fo angle and in a few moments was ready to go back home with his hamper full of portentous groupers,snooks and cavallas. Astonished with what they saw, Júlio and Camilo, came back again several times to witness that sensual ritual, eager to discover the secret of that fishing ground.
One afternoon the woman took longer to appear. Dusk was almost closing when she emerged to entwine herself around Marinho's body. But , differently from the other times, this time she demonstrated hurry in returning to the sea struggling against Marino's efforts to keep her in his arms.
Sensing marino's strenght the woman started to struggle desperately whitout being able to shout or scream. Suddenly Marino saw in the back of her wide open lmouth an enormous obstruction formed by reddish gills that fish need to breathe.

Instinctiveley and without demur he inserted his strong fingers and with a decided twist he wrenched the gills out of her throat. It was then that the two boys in their hideout heared the womans voice and realized that eternal vows of love were exchanged between the two lovers: she would be Ondine, the daughter of the sea, married to Marinho to establish the venturous family of the Marinhos.

Right en suite, protected by the complicity of darkness, they went to the new house at the Toninhas beach , recently built by Marinho. And there, as in all happy ending stories, they lived happily for many years, amidst an ever increasing number of offsprings.

I can't say for sure, but people say that there are still a lot of Marinhos around that beautiful place...

Abridged from the book "Ubatuba - Lendas & Outras Estórias" (Ubatuba-Legends & Other Stories)
written by Washington de Oliveira ("seo" Filhinho)
authorized by the writer

 

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