This nostalgia thing appears at strange times. It doesn’t prepare us, it doesn’t send us warning, it does not leave a person in waiting with a plate of “Miss you” as at the airport. On the contrary, such as influenza and herpes, it expects citizens to be off guard to attack. We may be thinking about school performance of children or the team roster and there she comes: breaks in, relentless. The nostalgia is shameless.
I lost my father a few years ago. Only then I discovered that the nostalgia has sizes. Sometimes it’s tiny, discrete, even has its grace, some others it’s better not to remember. And the size of nostalgia is inversely proportional to what awakens it. Nostalgia does not respect solemnities or ephemeris.
It wasn’t at the one year mass that it spawned. It didn’t come at Christmas with the power I imagined it would come. It isn’t from a picture in my side table that the immense longing for my father comes. No: longing comes from my son’s math doubt. A slice of cornmeal cake. Flannel shirt. A ball breaking the glass.
When the first star lights up, the nostalgia reminds me of a lesson many afternoons ago: it is not a star but a planet. It doesn’t seem to mean much but it does, inside us. Singing that comes from far away at dawn awakens the longing of my father. An armadillo ball curling (there were so many, where have they been?). The morning newspaper. Firefly. Fruit juice. Santa Claus.
He is everywhere, concealed in the whistle of my daughter. In the scent of a cut orange. And sorry, but all the balloons that keep on crossing the sky are released by my father, hidden somewhere I’d give anything to find out. And do not worry, firefighters, enemies of balloons: My old man had a preference for those little ones, said “little Chinese ones” barely rose and already faded.
As a day erased the immense heat inside him. Leaving this longing that is wandering around – firefly, balloon, cornmeal, armadillo, whistle, star, just waiting for a distraction to strike.
Speaking of which, look at that worm over there.
Cássio Zanatta is the father of Maria and Peter and native of Sao Jose do Rio Pardo, which explains a lot.