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
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,
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
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
Coinvinced that a major secret had to be unveiled, one night
they went there early andhidingin the ferns waiting for
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
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
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
Abridged from the
book "Ubatuba - Lendas & Outras Estórias"
(Ubatuba-Legends & Other Stories)
written by Washington de Oliveira
authorized by the writer