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English version

Crônicas da vida diária



Writer: Lia Pantoja Milhomens
Trad.: Lersch Traduções

Just a few days from the International Opening of IEJU-SA, as Mr. Ricardo, the builder of our final website and I were deciding on the date and the time of the event, he asked me how many chronicles I still had to post on the respective home page. I told him I had several in my head, as I have lived quite for long, full of experiences in several realms of the human existence.


Intelligent, he laughed at my answer, understanding my whole difficulty in finding time to place them in writing, in view of so many tasks brought by the great responsibility in organizing a work with an intellectual quality in level with yourselves. We then agreed that a notice should be on the page containing the words ‘under construction,’ and we’d only fill it as of the subsequent text change.

However, I woke up last night at 3 a.m. with the following thought: I shouldn’t fail to address a few words to my public, the receiver of my whole tenderness. So, sitting there by my bed, I started this chronicle to tell you the facts that preceded the creation of the Institute. My late father was an avid reader of mankind’s greatest classics.

He possessed a small library at our home in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, where we lived until I turned twelve. I admired him very much and tried to emulate him at home. So, still not knowing how to read and write, I used to stay by the door and stare at him for hours, sitting in front of all those books. I was keen to know what interesting things could be possibly found in those small letters, which I wasn’t able to understand.


As soon as I became fluent in my language, I decided to ‘assault’ my father’s bookshelves whenever he was away. So, one day I picked up a thick volume, which I had seen him handling, and I started, at eleven years old, to be acquainted with the marvellous, full experience of a human being. This was Emil Ludwig’s Napoleon. When I finished reading it, two years later, now domiciled in Rio de Janeiro, I reflected for a long time and asked myself if some day I would find my own Elba.

Years passed by, many a book I read, some of them containing sad stories, others merry tales, some of them featuring philosophical depth, others rather literary, either light or didactic. In them, I found my best friends, who led me in wonderful trips to magnificent worlds derived from the human intelligence, and I could then verify Father Vieira’s thought:
“A book is a dumb man who can talk, a deaf man who can answer, a blind man who can guide, and a dead man who can live.”

However, the recollection of that great man, lonely in his exile on a far-away island, in the middle of the ocean, always returned to my mind.

Then, one day I had my first face-to-face encounter with Elba. There were other innumerable meetings, which I’ll tell you about later on, but this particular one, as it was the beginning of a long, convivial engagement, was most remarkable and significant.


I was in my Judge chambers when a talented young lawyer came in and asked for a hearing, to which I promptly acquiesced, as it was my duty. He told me then that a gentleman, in the waiting room, wished to make am affidavit to me, whom he had specifically selected (for reasons he’d rather not specify) from the whole panel of judges in my County.


He told me that the unhappy gentleman, having casually witnessed a narcotic drug unloading at a certain hiding place, recognized among the delinquents one of his neighbours. All lived in a slum well known for the violence. The particular young man was born and grew up in there, dreaming of becoming a ‘Medical Doctor’ but little by little seeing his prospects of a better life decay and seem ever farther, given the poorness of his family, his little brothers hardly with any clothes to wear. He had then been recruited by drug traffic bosses in exchange for some money to help him sustain himself and his loved ones.


The worker also told me that he was well advised about the risks his life would run if he ever gave the intended affidavit and named the members and the M.O. of the band, which everybody in the slum knew well, but kept silent, fearing violent reprisals.

The gentleman came to my presence and I then explained him my trouble in affording him life guarantees as our country still did not have a witness-protecting programme (this happened over 15 years ago, fortunately Brazil already has nowadays such a programme).

The man looked deeply at my eyes for some time and replied, calmly and serenely:

“Your Honour, my life would be worthless if I didn’t give my contribution to better the lives of my equals and remove our boys from the claws of violence. I love this youngster as if he were my own boy. I saw him be born, and grow full of illusions, now that everything has been destroyed for him I’d rather not see the same thing happen to other boys like him.”


I then called the Clerk, and we began the long affidavit. Later, having been promoted and having exchanged the County for the Capital, the judge who replaced me at that Criminal Court told me that the man had been indeed instrumental in helping to disarray the band that used to terrorize the inhabitants in that community.


The following day, again the young lawyer called on in my chambers. This time he was alone. He crossed the threshold of the door (which, during my whole commissioning as a Judge, always remained wide open, being closed only on very special occasions) and entered the room silently, with a grave face. He greeted me gracefully as usual and told me:

“Your Honour, I came today to inform you that the gentleman of yesterday has been found lifeless in an alley, full of bullets.”

He greeted me again and courteously left the chambers.


A knot in my throat prevented me from replying to his graceful nod. Feeling what was going to happen next, I stood up and, for the first time, I locked the door of my chambers. I sat down, and cried copiously.


Suddenly, someone knocked at the door. It was the voice of another young man. A lawyer, requesting a hearing. I asked him to wait a little, went to the toilet, washed my face and retouched my makeup. I then picked up my sunglasses from the purse and put them on. I took a deep breath, and prepared myself to receive him.


I opened the door, and he entered. I offered him the sofa and, as both of us sat down, I reckoned that at long, last I had found my Elba! Yes, at that moment, despite being in the company of a human being, surrounded by several employees from the Notary Public next door, I was feeling myself the loneliest being of the Planet Earth. I could tell no one how terrible was the drama crossing my conscience and I could not show to that worker any sign of feebleness, because right there I was the representative of both the State and Human Power, just like they have been conceived from the times of the Pharaohs and the old Roman Caesars, I should definitely not indulge in half-heartedness. The fact is, people place themselves under the protection of a sovereign, nowadays replaced by a regular leader, therefore they must always feel in their rulers the capacity to exert their defence, and this should always be reflected by the people who represent them, as a guarantee of citizenship and nationality.


I then prepared myself for the future innumerable meetings I had always feared since adolescence and which finally became real. Nevertheless, Elba did teach me a number of things, especially that, just like that venerable gentleman and many other human beings in our dear planet, I should offer my life for the shaping of a Better World.


When the young lawyer withdrew, rather tranquillised, I looked into the blue sky of my country and remembers the verses by Manuel Bandeira:

“O the Divine One! O the Omnipotent One!
Allow our earth
To live merrily in peace!”

In my heart, the seed of the Instituto de Estudos Jurídico-Sociais Aplicados was thus planted.

At 10 a.m., when the underling of Mr. Ricardo called on me to proofread the articles for the website’s links, she already found these pages written down, with copies to the agency that translated them into English, French and Spanish.




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