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The unique umbrella

A beautiful summer evening, the sky is full of stars, among which the moon at the full, throne like a queen.

The Masagocho boulevard is full of people: recognized flâneurs, bored in the evening; passing tourists, who come to study the sights of the street; lovers in search of some new object; students in search of distractions; older sisters or grandmothers walking, attaching on their backs a squalling or sleeping brat: it is a perpetual coming and going of shadows that stand out in black on the light cast by the moon.

From time to time various cries: a Kurumaya that makes a passage through the crowd. He pulls his car running, on which a man basks in the latest fashion, very proud to see that we are bothering him, or is the vermicelli peddler; he carries on his shoulder a long bamboo at both ends which dangle long boxes containing the steaming soup. There is also the professional masseur, blind and severe: the right hand he holds a long stick, which he uses to make his uncertain gait, and the left hand, a small whistle that, at regular intervals, he carries to his mouth to draw that particular sound, similar to the cry of the owl, which is the recognized everywhere.

fig17Stylish and graceful shops are lined up on either side of the street.

On each side of the street are lined small shops, quaint and graceful, brightly lit, some by oil lamps, other electric light. Widely open to all eyes, they expose no mystery their various goods, arranged in an elegant order.

They are somewhat neglected in the evening. The crowd prefers to move at the many stalls which succeed each side of the boulevard, a short distance of the houses. These displays consist of a single mat or a thin mat spread on the floor. Lit by smokers lamps or variegated lanterns, they form a beautiful panorama that disfigures regularly thick shade of huge and unsightly telegraph or telephone posts.

Here are aligned with taste and elegance all objects in the fashion of the day: flowers and fruits of the season, imitation jewelery, myopic or presbyopic sunglasses, fabrics and silks, porcelain and household tools, books and old magazines, children toys, sweets and tempting pastries. Behind each shelf, sitting on the heels and quietly smoking his pipe, the merchant or the market expects buyers and invites passers.

The shows are varied. Here is the bookstall, at the sight of which students stop. They contemplate and leaf through old books, most of the time, they will not buy; for the student, generally, houses the devil in her purse.

Here, the fortune teller, the seer of the future. He is seated at a small table, on which there are the mysterious sticks to fateful figures. Grave and solemn, he expects that some naive come give him his secrets and, for three cents, learning from his mouth the solution of a problem for the future.

Here is the verbose charlatan who sells drugs to which he grants a patent for infallible efficiency, raves against doctors who kill the poor world, and sell for five cents a wonderful vial.

fig18Yotaro walks.

A few feet away, a young man with an inexhaustible eloquence, mounted on a trestle and dominating the crowd of gesture and voice, auctioning fabrics that naturally he says indestructible and high quality. Further, we meet the skilled calligrapher; squatting in front of a huge sheet of paper, he draws on it with a brush that is attached to the front Chinese characters which everyone agrees to proclaim the drawing as wonderful.

Opposite, on a table covered with a carpet, it is installed a discrete phonograph, from which escape, as so many rays, long rubber tubes. Many listeners bought for a penny a cent to push the tubes in the ears, and they listen motionless the melodious symphony. To conclude, here is a man of a certain age who sells unbreakable lamp glasses. Do not laugh: for what he says, he proves it. This serves, in effect, these lamp chimneys, sometimes as a hammer to drive nails, sometimes as drumsticks to hit on a board.

Lost in the crowd, Yotaro walks. It is a fifteen year old boy. He wears the hat of students of any school. In his right hand he holds a huge umbrella, wide open. This umbrella is made of oiled paper, colored straw, bamboo whales. Everyone can read from a distance, traced in large letters, the full name of its owner, the name of the street and house number he lives.

“How original!” say passers without paying greater attention because, at this age, all fantasies are allowed.

Yotaro meets one of his classmates:

So what is, Yotaro, the seductive motive
Who pushes you to wear this stylish riflard?
It would rain in torrents, under so pale heavens?
– If it rained something, it would rain the stars!
– Could it be the sun hurts your eyes?
– No, for the last hour, he left our skies.
– Afraid you perhaps the lunar influence?
– Phoebe does not burn the world it illuminates.
– But then … why is that annoying umbrella?
– Guess, if you can; I give you a cent.
– I guessed! You will, in your extreme pride,
To point out: it is always your system!
If the world is watching me or not watching me,
This is much the same, and do not trouble me,
– So you’re a fool; I will hang you!
– A fool? No no! Listen, friend. You’ll understand.
For four, we do not have in any home
This single umbrella: it makes each season.
When it rains, my dad, to go to work,
He takes it; when it’s a sunny sky,
My mom takes it, to go to the merchant.
If I want my turn to have charm and
To wear it sometimes, can I do it another time
So what if does not rain, and that the moon is bright?

fig19Yotaro received a tremendous punch.

And Yotaro continues his walk, always open umbrella, through the crowd. Suddenly, he feels violently arrested by the arm, while a terrific punch comes befall his head. Poor umbrella, suddenly snatched from the hand which carries it, roll in the dust …

Yotaro, distracted, failed to pay attention to a peaceful passing. He resolved that night not to expose the single umbrella of the family to so unpleasant adventure and go walking in the countryside, away from the crowds.

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