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Introduction.  Carolina Maria de Jesus was a destitute black Brazilian woman born (1914) in the rural interior who migrated to São Paulo, the largest industrial city in South America, seeking to find work and a better life. The great-grandchild of slaves, she became literate on her own, having attended school for less than two years. As a young girl, she developed a passion for reading. Later, this fed her desire to write down her feelings and to tell her story. In 1958 a reporter, Audálio Dantas, discovered that she had written a diary about her hard life in the city's slums or favelas.  He managed to edit it, publish some of the entries in his newspaper, and, in August 1960, had it printed under the title Quarto de Despejo. It became the best-selling book in Brazilian history, and made its author world famous. Carolina wrote four other books, which were published without success, and many poems, short stories, and memoir fragments. Only a few years after her mercurial success, however, she was forced back into poverty. She died in 1977 in destitute poverty.

Carolina had three children, Vera, Joao and Jose Carlos. Senhor Manuel is her occassional boyfriend. Her diary recounts the daily struggle for survival for her and her children, but it is about much, much more than that.  As the translator of her diary, David St. Clair, relates, "Carolina is not really the main personage in her diary.  It is a bigger character--Hunger.  From the first to the last page he appears with an unnerving consistency.  The other characters are consequences of this Hunger: alcoholism, prostitution, violence, and murder.  The human beings who walk through these pages are real, with their real names, but with slight variations they could be other men who live with Hunger in New York, Buenos Aires, Rome, Calcutta, and elsewhere" (Child of the Dark: The Diary of Maria de Jesus, "Translator's Preface," p. 14).  The following excerpts are from her diary entries for 1958.

Key words: favela = slum or shantytown; cruzeiros = monetary denomination; nortista = someone from Northern Brazil; pinga = alcoholic drink; guarana = a Brazilian drink comparable to Coca-Cola

Child of the Dark

by Maria Carolina de Jesus

             New York: Mentor Books, 1962

July 28  I left Joao and just took Vera and Jose Carlos. I was so unhappy! With a tremendous desire to kill myself. Today whoever is born and can put up with this life until death must be considered a hero. A current verse around is this one :
I hear people saying
has a lot of money.
Hasn't one got the right to be rich
When he is a national, when he is a Brazilian?
Okay, let's leave Dr. Adhemar in peace because he has an easy life. He's never hungry . He doesn't eat out of garbage cans like the poor. Once when I went to Dr. Adhemar's residence I met a man who gave me his card: Edson Marreira Branco.  He was so well dressed that he attracted all eyes. He told me that he wanted to get into politics. I asked him: "What are your political plans?"

"I want to get as rich as Adhemar."

I was shocked. Nobody any more has any patriotism. When I went by the slaughterhouse I met Dona Maria de Jose Bento who told me: "If I don't start picking up things in the street, I'm going to go crazy. Only God has pity on us poor." I showed her how to look for wild garlic. And I picked up a little coal. I said good-by to Dona Maria and went on. I met Dona Nene, director of a city school and Joao's teacher . I told her that I was very nervous and that there were times when I thought of killing myself. She told me that I should be calmer. I told her that there are days when I have nothing to give my children to eat.

July 30  I got 15 cruzeiros and went by the shoemaker to see if Vera's shoes were ready, because she complains when she has to go barefoot. They were, and she put on the shoes and began to smile. I stood watching my daughter's smile, because I myself don't know how to smile. I met Rosalina who was arguing with Helio. He doesn't want it told that he and Olga have to beg. Rosalina said that she is alone and supports three children. She doesn't know that her son Celso is telling everybody that he is going to run away from home because he hates her . He thinks his mother is crude and stingy . He said he wants to be my son. Then I told him: "If you were my boy you would be black. And being Rosalina's boy you are white."

He answered me: "But if I was your son I wouldn't go hungry. Mama gets some hard bread and forces us to eat nothing but hard bread until it's all gone." I started thinking about the unfortunate children who, even being tiny, complain about their condition in the world. They say that Princess Margaret of England doesn't like being a Princess. Those are the breaks in life.

July 31  I lit the fire and went to look for water. I sent Jose Carlos for six cruzeiros worth of sugar . Luiz, who made the fence for me, came in and sat down. I told him that I was going out and when I went I preferred to leave my children by themselves. I hurried out looking for paper. There was little paper in the streets. I'm getting sick of picking up paper, because when I get to the junk yard there is a woman named Cecilia who works there and she is a bitch. She insults me and I pretend I don't hear. She says I stink. On the 27th Cecilia didn't let Jose Carlos use the toilet shed. She is such a bitch that her presence even keeps the junk yard owner away.

Today I am not nervous. I am sad. Because I think things will turn out one way and they turn out the other. Antonio Nascimento, who lived here in the favela, moved. He and his "companion" were not happy here. Nobody wanted them in the favela. Because he ran out on four children and she on three children. Seven children suffering because of their parents. What did she gain by leaving her husband and children? She left a man with shoes to go with one who is barefoot.

August 1  The Welfare Department is arriving. They are coming to investigate the Portuguese who sells candy. On the 28th of July I went to visit him. He wanted some help. They claimed he didn't pay social security and they didn't come. He was moaning and had two Portuguese women visiting him. I asked him if he was better. He told me no. One of the women asked me: "And what do you do?"

"I pick up paper, scrap iron, and in my free time I write." She told me, with the wisest-sounding voice I ever heard: "You must take care of your life!"

August 2  I dressed the boys and sent them to school. I went out and wandered around trying to get some money. I passed the slaughterhouse, picked up a few bones. Some women were pawing through the garbage looking for edible meat. They claimed it was only for dogs. That's what I say--it's only for dogs. . . .

August 3  Today the children are only going to get hard bread and beans with farinha to eat. I am so tired that I can't even stand up. I am cold. Thank God we're not staving. Today He is helping me. I am confused and don't know what to do. I am walking from one side to the other because I can't stand being in a shack as bare as this. A house that doesn't have a fire in the stove is so sad! And pots boiling on the fire also serve as decoration. It beautifies a place. I went to Dona Nene. She was in the kitchen. What a marvelous sight! She was cooking chicken, meat, and macaroni. She grated half a cheese to put on the macaroni! She gave me some polenta with chicken. It's been ten years. . . . I almost didn't know what it was. The smell of food in Dona Nene's house was so pleasant that tears streamed out of my eyes, because I felt so sorry for my children. They would have loved those delicacies.

When I returned to the favela Leila and Amaldo were giving one of their shows. And the children were enjoying it. I was writing when Vera came to tell me that they were handing out cards and there were many people in the street. I went running to see. A crowd was following a tall blond man who was leading a boy of ten by the hand. He was wearing light gray trousers and a dark blue jacket. He passed by me and gave me an embrace. I was bewildered by that embrace without even being introduced. It was the first time I'd ever seen the man.

Coca Cola's brother-in-law told me: "That's our Congressman, Dr. Contrini." When he said Congressman I thought: it's election time, that's why they're all so friendly. Senhor Contrini came to tell us that he was a candidate in the next elections. We of the favela have not been protected by you, Senhor Contrini. We don't know you, and you don't know us.

August 6  I made coffee for Joao and Jose Carlos, who is ten years old today. I could only give him my congratulations, because I don't even know if we are even going to eat today.

August 7  I got out of bed at 4 a.m. I didn't sleep because I went to bed hungry. And he who lies down with hunger doesn't sleep. I saw the tax collector wandering around and asking questions. I went to see what he was doing. He was looking for Senhor Tiburcio. He builds shacks to sell and begs over on Direita Street. He doesn't need to and doesn't live in the favela. He has already built seven shacks and sold them. Tiburcio has a deformed body and a soul to match.

When Joao got home from school I gave him lunch. Later we went to the city. We walked because I didn't have money to pay for transportation. I took a sack with me and picked up scrap iron I found in the streets. We went down Cantareira Street. Vera stared at the cheeses and choked on her saliva. Dona Alice told me that Policarpo, a nortista that lives here in the favela, brought a black woman to live in his house. He told his wife that she was his cousin. His wife is very good and she accepted the cousin in the house with pleasure. And the cousin stayed there for several days. Policarpo's wife would go out and he would stay at home with the cousin. One day when Dona Maria returned to the shack she found Policarpo and the cousin screwing. She didn't like it and she fought with them. Policarpo left the house and went with the cousin to Descalvado. He took the furniture leaving only the bed.

August 8  I left the house at 8 o'clock. I stopped at the newsstand to read the major stories. The police still haven't caught Promessinha. The bandit is foolish because at his age he doesn't even know the rules of good living. Promessinha lives in the favela at Vila Prodente. He proves what they've been saying: the favelas do not form character. The favela is the garbage dump and the authorities ignore that they have a garbage dump.

I went to wash clothes. At the lagoon was Nalia, Femanda, and Iracema, who were arguing religion with a woman who said that the true religion was that of the Believers. Fernanda said that the Bible doesn't order anybody to get married. That it only orders you to increase and multiply. I told Fernanda that Policarpo is a Believer and has many women. Then Fernanda said that Policarpo wasn't a Believer -"he's just hotl" I thought that was funny and I gave out a whoop. Something I don't discuss is religion. I went to the clothes and left the discussion at its height. Today the Welfare people were here twice, because Apaleclda had an abortion. Quita came to my shack complaining that Jose Carlos had thrown shit in Marli's face and that I must give a better education to my son.

August 9  I got out of bed furious. With a desire to break and destroy everything. Because I only have beans and salt. And tomorrow is Sunday. I went to the shoemaker to collect his wastepaper. One of them asked me if my book was communistic. I replied that it was realistic. He cautioned me that it was not wise to write of reality. Today the favela is spinning. Deputy Francisco Franca gave material to finish the clubhouse of the Blacks and Reds. He gave roof tiles and shirts and the people of the favela talk about this Deputy daily. They're going to give a party in his honor. . . .
August 11  I was paying the shoemaker and talking with a black who was reading a newspaper. He was furious with a policeman who beat up a Negro and tied him to a tree. The policeman is white. There are certain whites who transform blacks into whipping posts. Is this policeman aware of the fact that slavery has been abolished or does he think we are still in the era of the whip? I got frightened when I heard my children shouting. I recognized Vera's voice. I went to see what it was. It was little Joao, Deolinda's son, who had a whip in his hand and was throwing stones at the children. I ran and knocked the whip away from him. I smelled the stench of alcohol. I thought: he must be drunk because he never did this before. A boy of nine years. His stepfather drinks, his mother drinks, and his grandmother drinks. He is the one they send out to buy the booze for them. This time he had been drinking along the way. When he got back his mother asked astonished: "Is this all? What thieves those clerks are!"
August 12  I left my bed at 6:30 and went to get water. There was a long line. The worst thing about it is that malice is the main subject. There was a Negress there who acted as if she'd been vaccinated by a phonograph needle. She talked about her daughter and son-in-law who were constantly fighting. And Dona Clara had to listen to it because she was the only one who was paying attention. Lately it has become very difficult to get water, because the amount of people in the favela has doubled. And there is only one spigot.
August 13  Everybody was telling that Zeta fought with a nortma woman. Swearwords came into action. I only feel sorry for the children who have to hear such language. Zefa is a mulatto and pretty. It's too bad she doesn't know how to read. She only drinks a lot. She had two children and she forgot to feed them. So they died. I sent Joao to take a note to the Mello Brothers Circus asking if they would hire me as a singer. Then I went to wash clothes. I was getting ready to go to the circus when I heard rumors that Anselmo had shot Johnny Coque. I was writing, waiting for the rice to dry. I put away the notebook and started running around looking for Johnny. I found him seated on the Portuguese soccer field holding his legs with one hand and the bullet in the other. I asked him if someone had called the police. He said they had. He was worried that there was no life in his leg. He tried to put on his shoes but couldn't. I gave him my slippers. The curious gathered. There were no comments. The people were only complaining about Anselm. I am going to tell you who Anselm is. Afterward I'll tell who Johnny is.

Anselm showed up here in 1950 with a woman who was pregnant. When the woman gave birth, to a boy, he started to mistreat her. He beat her and threw her out of the house. She cried so much that her milk dried up. Now he fought with Johnny because he is Iracema's lover. And Iracema's shack is near Anselmo's shack. And Johnny talks with his fiance near Anselm's house, which he doesn't like. He ordered Johnny to go make love near the river. Johnny was at home drinking coffee when Anselm called him out to talk. Johnny told him that he had just returned from work and he couldn't see him. It was then that Anselm shot him. He didn't see Anselm take out the gun. Anselm aimed for the chest, but the bullet hit a leg. Anselm fled. The people say they're going to get together and beat up Anselm. Johnny went to be treated at Central Police Station and came back. I asked him if they gave him an anesthetic. He said they only gave him an injection against lockjaw. It's just one more case for the police.

August 14  Ditinho, Lena's boy, is a veteran of the favela. But he's bald and never learned to read, never learned a trade. Only learned to drink pinga. Lena has a nicely built shack on Port Street. But Tiburcio tricked poor Lena. They traded shacks and he gave her a badly built one and kept hers. Afterward he sold it for 15,000 cruzeiros. I went to the junk yard and got 15 cruzeiros. I passed by the shoemaker to tell him to fix Vera 's shoes. I kept hurrying up streets. I was nervous because I had very little money and tomorrow is a holiday. A woman who was returning from the market told me to go and look for paper at Porto Seguro Street, the building on the corner, fourth floor, apartment 44.

I went up in the elevator, Vera and I. But I was so frightened that the minutes I stayed inside the elevator seemed to me like centuries. When I got to the fourth floor I breathed easier. I had the impression that I was coming out of a tomb. I rang the bell and the lady of the house and the maid appeared. She gave me a bag of paper. Her two sons took me to the elevator. The elevator, instead of going down, went up two more floors. But I was accompanied, I wasn't frightened. I kept thinking: People claim they aren't afraid of anything but at times they are frightened by something completely harmless. On the sixth floor a man got into the elevator and looked at me with disgust. I'm used to these looks, they don't bother me. He wanted to know what I was doing in the elevator. I explained to him that the mother of those two boys had given me some newspapers. And that was the reason for my presence in his elevator. I asked him if he was a doctor or a Congressman. He told me he was a Senator. The man was well dressed. I was barefoot. Not in condition to ride in his elevator. I asked a news vendor to help me put the sack on my back, and that the day that I was clean I would give him an embrace. He laughed and told me: "Then I know I'm going to die without getting a hug from you, because you never are clean."

He helped me put the rest of the paper on my head. I went in a factory and later I went to see Senhor Rodolfo. I earned 20 more cruzeiros. Afterward I was tired. I headed toward home. I was so tired that I couldn't stand up. I had the impression that I was going to die. I thought: if I don't die, I'll never work like this again. I could barely breathe. I got 100 cruzeiros. I went to lie down. The fleas didn't leave me in peace. I'm so tired of this life that I lead.

August 15  I was picking up manure to take to Ivani's house when I saw a truck on "A" Street, parked at Anselm's door. Florentina and Dona Lurdes came to tell Johnny Coque that Anselm was going to move and for him to call the police. He couldn't walk because he was shot in the leg. So I went. In five minutes the news spread that I had gone to telephone the police, to stop the moving of Anselmo. I returned before the police, and the favelados, as soon as they saw me, started to ask: "Where are the police, Carolina?" If I had saved all the money I've spent telephoning for the Patrol Car, I could buy a kilo of meat!

The people were waiting for Anselm to make an appearance so they could beat him up. Men and women had collected for the beating. I heard it said that Anselmo had jumped over the fence and got out the back way. I said that I would like to be a man, because I too would like to be able to break and beat. Then a man replied: "I'd like to be a woman, but only during the day." And everybody laughed. Lalau and his mother-in-law had a fight. She hit him with the broom handle. She ran and he chased her. They were drunk.

August 16  I stopped by the shoemaker. Senhor Jaco was nervous. He said that if we had communism he would live better, because what his shop produced didn't pay his expenses. In the old days it was the workers who wanted communism. Now it's the bosses. The cost of living makes the worker lose his sympathy for democracy. The sack of paper was very heavy and a worker helped me to lift it. These days I've carried so much paper that my left shoulder is bruised. When I was walking up Avenue Tiradentes, some workers came out of a factory and said to me: "Carolina, you like to write, urge the people to adopt another regime."

A worker asked me: "Is it true that you eat what you find in the garbage?" "The cost of living forces us not to be squeamish of anything. We have to imitate the animals."

August 17  When I went to lunch I got nervous because I didn't have coffee. I started to get upset. I saw a newspaper that had a picture of Deputy Conceicao da Costa Neves. I tore it and put it in the fire. During the election campaigns she says she fights for us.
August 18  I don't like to lose a Monday. I go out early because I always find many things in the garbage. I left with Vera. I feet so sorry for my daughter! I went to Dona Julita, picked up her paper. I earned 55 cruzeiros. What does 55 cruzeiros buy? I was nervous. When I got home I lay down because I had carried some thirty kilos of scrap and tin cans. On my head. After I rested for a while I went to Rosalina to ask for her wagon to take the scrap to the junk yard. She loaned it to me and I filled the wagon. I was cold. I was welcomed with joy by Senhor Manuel. We weighed the material and I got 191 cruzeiros. I went by the Guine Bakery and bought a guarana and some bananas. I put Vera in the wagon. When I got to the favela I was beat. Joao said to me: "Now that you've got some money, I can have my tooth pulled, because it's aching." I told him to get dressed and wash his feet.

I was going to go out dirty. Then I thought: It's better to change. I changed, then hurried out. When I got to Filisberto de Carvajho Street I heard them talking about a fight I went to see. It was Meiry, Pitita, Valdemar, and Armin. The Portuguese who sells cows' intestines had sold everything and was going home. He knows Meiry and he stopped to talk to her. Valdemar showed up and asked to borrow his bicycle to ride around on. The Portuguese replied: "You want a bicycle, buy one." And that began the exchange of insults. Valdemar, as he is used to doing to the favelados, gave the Portuguese a slap. The Portuguese socked Valdemar and threw him on the ground. Armin was on Valdemar's side and threw a brick at the Portuguese's head, who tumbled and his billfold fell from his pocket. When the favelados saw the billfold they went crazy. They all rushed at the same time to grab the billfold. When I got near Tiburcio's Ana, I asked her what happened, and she started to explain. And Isabel laughed and said: "It seemed like it was raining money!"

I ran near Valdemar and Armin who were smiling as if they had just done a noble deed. At a distance I saw the Portuguese who was covered with blood. And Valdemar said: "It wasn't anything, Dona Carolina." I said to Armin: "Give the money back to the Portuguese." He answered me: "I don't know anything about it." When I got near the Portuguese, Meiry was giving him the billfold. And the Portuguese said: "The money is gone."

There was a white girl near Meiry, who called to her: "Meiry, let's go." The Portuguese gave a piece of meat to Meiry. It was a heart. I took Joao to the dentist. I saw a sign on ltaqui Street--Dentist. Dr. Paulo de Oliveira Porto. I rang the bell and went in. A woman came to attend me. I sat down and waited. But I was worried about the children that I had left alone. Dr. Paulo came out and I told him that he is the dentist nearest to the favela and that I wanted him to remove a tooth from my son Joao. Joao sat down in the chair. "How much is it, Doctor?" " A hundred cruzeiros." I thought the price was exorbitant. But he was already sitting in the chair. I opened my purse and sat down, and started to count out bills of five. I separated 20 bills of five.

August 19  I didn't sleep. I got out of bed nervous. I went to get water. The soldier Flausino told me that C was his father's woman. That she told him she went with his father and got 50cruzeiros. I commented on it at the spigot and the women said they had been suspicious all along. Day by day the lives of the favelados worsen with the water line. Vera is happy because I bought a pair of rope sandals for her. This morning she cried because her shoes had holes.
August 20  I went out to look for paper. I didn't talk to anybody. I met the city tax collector who joked with Vera saying that she was his girlfriend. He gave her one cruzeiro and asked for a hug. I got a splinter in my foot and stopped to take it out. Afterward I wrapped a rag around my foot. I found some tomatoes and went toward home. Today I am animated. Seems as if the old parts of my body have been changed for new ones. Only my soul is sad. I came to the farthest part of Caninde. I went by COAP, a state-owned market, to buy some rice. The cheapest, which is already old and with the taste of dust.
August 21  I fixed coffee and made the children wash themselves for school. Afterward I went out to pick up paper. I passed the slaughterhouse and Vera went in to beg for a sausage. I only earned 55 cruzeiros. When I got back I sat thinking of my life. Brazil is predominated by the whites. But for many things they need the blacks and the blacks need them. While I was getting ready to make supper I heard Juana's voice asking me for a bit of garlic. I gave her five pieces. Then when I was fixing supper I didn't have any salt. She gave me a little.
August 22  I got out of bed at 5 o'clock and went to carry water. The line was already enormous. I only had four cruzeiros and an empty milk bottle. I went to Senhor Eduardo; he kept the bottle and the four cruzeiros and gave me a bread roll. I thought it was very little, but the money was also very little. I made coffee and got the children ready to go to school. I went looking for paper. I found some rags to sell. I went by a house on Avenue Tuadentes and carried 50 kilos of paper that a woman asked me to sell for her. I put it on my head and sold it. It got 100 cruzeiros. She was pleased. There are days when I envy the life of the birds. I'm so nervous that I'm afraid I am going crazy.
August 23  Today there are no classes because it's the day when the teachers get together with the parents. I plan to go. I went out and took the three children. Today they are so refined. They're not fighting. Even I am calmer. I can see the transformation in myself. I passed the slaughterhouse to get some bones. In the beginning they used to give us meat. Now they give us bones. I am always shocked with the patience of the poor woman who is happy with any old thing.

The children were content because they got a sausage. I continued on to the junk yard. I found some cans, I spotted them in a field. When I was crossing the railroad tracks I looked to see if a train was coming and I saw Dona Armanda. I asked her if her son Aldo had left a notebook for me that he'd promised. There was a lot of paper in the streets and I got l00 cruzeiros. I bought a sandwich for the kids. They like to go out with me because I buy things for them to eat. A mother is always worried that her children are hungry. I washed the dishes and swept the shack. I wrote a little. I felt tired, so I slept. I woke many times during the night with the fleas that invade our houses, and without an invitation too!

August 24  I washed clothes. There was little soap. Dona Dolores gave me a few pieces. I started to feel dizzy because I was hungry. I went to see Chica. She told me that Policarpo had come to fight with his wife because she had complained about him to the relief board. Corca told me that the Portuguese that Armin and Valdemar had attacked threw a sack in Valdemar's face and while he was trying to free himself from it, the Portuguese grabbed a board and gave him a few whacks, and they ran. Joao and Jose Carlos went to the movie at Pari church. Today I'm not feeling well. I washed all the clothes because I don't know if tomorrow I'm going to wake up sick or not. I don't know who is the miserable character who entered my shack to steal. Because my hatchet is gone.
August 25  I went to look for water and made coffee. I didn't buy bread. I didn't have money. I was going to take the children out when I saw a girl on her way to school and I asked her if there was going to be classes. She said yes. I dressed Jose Carlos and Joao went the way he was. I promised to bring them some lunch. I went out with Vera. There was no paper in the streets because another man had picked it an up. I did find some scrap metal.
August 26  I returned to the favela and cooked some food. I was ill. I lunched and laid down. I slept. What a luxurious sleepl Without dreams, without nightmares. I woke up with the voice of the Baiana woman who was scolding my sons and throwing rocks at the other children. Here in the favela nobody likes her because she is always fighting with the children. I went to talk to Dona Alice. I am very unhappy. She told me that Pitita had been fightlng with a man and called his mother a cheap whore. The man reported her and the police came to get her. She fled.
August 27  Dona Irene gave me some newspapers. I sold them and got 30 cruzeiros. I sold some newspapers belonging to a teacher and got 40 cruzeiros. She gave me half of it. I earned five more. All together I had 55. I went by the factory to pick up some tomatoes. I got back home and asked to borrow Rosalina's wagon to look for wood so I could make a pigpen. I took Vera and Jose Carlos with me. I just tramped around, mostly killing time. After I work and earn enough money for my children, I'm going to rest. A justifiable rest.
August 28  I went to get water. What a line! When I saw the line of cans I became depressed with life. I left my cans in line and went back to make some coffee. I woke Joao. He washed himself and went out to buy bread. I washed the dishes and disinfected Jose Carlos. I changed his clothes and gave him coffee. Then they went to school. I went back to the spigot. There were some arguments because some had tried to get ahead of the others.
August 30  I went by the slaughterhouse and they gave me some bones. At the junk yard I got ten cruzeiros. I circled back by Porto Seguro Street and I met that blond boy, tall and pretty. The type of man that women like to hug. He stopped to greet me. I went to Senhor Eduardo to buy kerosene, oil, and ink to write with. While I was waiting for the ink a white man that was nearby asked me if I knew how to read. I told him I did. Then he picked up a pencil and wrote: "Are you married? If not, would you like to sleep with me?" I read it and handed it back to him, without saying anything. . . .
September 2  I made a fire and warmed up some food for the children because I don't have any money to buy bread. I changed the boys and they went to school. and I took Vera out with me. I almost went crazy. Because there was so little paper in the streets. Now even the garbage men steal what the paper pickers could take. Those egoists! In Paulino Guimaries Street there is a metal shop. Every day they put their trash in the street and the trash has a lot of metal. I used to pick out the scrap and sell it. Now the garbage truck, before starting its regular collection, comes down Paulino Guimaries Street, picks up the trash, and puts it inside the car. Selfish! They have a good job, hospital, drugstore, doctors. And they are allowed to sell anything they find in the garbage. They could leave the scrap for me. I spent the afternoon flattening the cans. Then I went to Bela Vista to get a box. When I went by the slaughterhouse the bone truck was parked there. I asked the driver for some bones. He let me have one that I picked out. It had a lot of fat on it.

I made some soup and started to write. The night arrived. Joao ate and laid down. I put Vera in her crib. Jose Carlos was in the street, hiding from me, afraid of getting a beating. He is just like a pig. He covered his shirt with mud. I made a pigpen and I'm going to put him in to live with the pig. It would serve him right. Pitoca went through the streets inviting the public to see a movie. She called Joao, and I told her he was sleeping. I went to see the movie. It was about the church. At the playground that Adhemar put here for the children. At night the riff-raff play. Bobo made so much noise that he interrupted the film. The favelados stepped on the electric wire and stopped the projector. The favelados themselves say that the favelado is stupid. I thought: I'm going to write. While I was returning home I met Paulo who lives with Dona Aurora. She has a light-skinned mulatto daughter. She says that Paulo is the father. But her features don't show it. I slept and had a marvelous dream. I dreamt I was an angel. My dress was billowing and had long pink sleeves. I went from earth to heaven. I put stars in my hands and played with them. I talked to the stars. They put on a show in my honor. They danced around me and made a luminous path. When I woke up I thought: I'm so poor. I can't afford to go to a play so God sends me these dreams for my aching soul. To the God who protects me, I send my thanks. 

September 3  Yesterday we ate badly. Today worse.
September 8  Today I'm happy. I'm laughing without any reason. I'm singing. When I sing I make up the verses. I sing until I get tired of the song. Today I made this song.
There is a voodoo curse on you
And who did it, I know who.
It was little Mary
The one you loved before.
She said she loved you too
But you showed her the door .

September 9  There was no school today because the President of Italy is coming to sao Paulo. I didn't go out because it's raining. I spent all day writing. In the afternoon I made a soup of rice and beans.
September 14  Today is the Easter of Moses. The God of the Jews. The same God who keeps the Jews free even today. The black is persecuted because his skin is the color of night. And the Jew because he's intelligent. Moses, when he saw the Jews barefoot and ragged, prayed asking God to give them comfort and wealth. And that is why almost all the Jews are rich. Too bad we blacks don't have a prophet to pray for us.

September 18  Today I'm happy. I'm trying to learn how to live with a calm spirit because for these last few days I've had enough to eat. When I saw the workers in the factory B . . . I looked at the company name they have sewn on their backs and wrote these verses:
Some men in sao Paulo
Walk with lettering on their back
On them is plainly written
Where they're working at

September 19  At the slaughterhouse they don't put garbage in the streets any more because of the women who look for rotten meat and eat it.

September 20  I went to the store and took 44 cruzeiros with me. I bought a kilo of sugar, one of beans, and two eggs. I had two cruzeiros left over. A woman who was shopping spent 43 cruzeiros. And Senhor Eduardo said: .. As far as spending money goes, you two are equal." I said: "She's white. She's allowed to spend more." And she said: "Color is not important."

Then we started to talk about prejudice. She told me that in the United States they don't want Negroes in the schools. I kept thinking: North Americans are considered the most civilized. And they have not yet realized that discriminating against the blacks is like trying to discriminate against the sun. Man cannot fight against the products of Nature. God made all the races at the same time. If he had created Negroes after the whites, the whites should have done something about it then.

September 23 I went to see Dona Julita. She gave me food. She is worried because Senhor Joao is sick. He says he does not hate those who hate him, that he, being poor, has seen many nobles among the poor. I know that among the rich there is always a dissension because of money questions. But I can't answer these questions because I'm poor as a rat.
September 25  I didn't sleep because I was exhausted. I even thought I was doing to die. I had the impression I was in a desert. There are times when I hate that reporter Audalio Dantas tThe Brazilian reporter who discovered Carolina]. If he hadn't taken my notebooks I would have sent them to the United States and everything would have been over by now. I got up two times to kill the mosquitoes. When I was talking to Chica, Policarpo's "companion" called me. I didn't go. She went back inside her house and returned with a summons and gave it to me. It was for me to go to the Investigation Board tomorrow, the 26th, and take Joao. It was on July 8th, 1958, when she told me that my son Joao of eleven years had tried to rape her daughter. And she never pressed charges until today.
September 26  I got a meal ready for the boys. They came home for lunch, I changed them and took them to the Board. The Board decided to rent an automobile to take us to 3 Asdrubal do Nascimento Street. We were seven people in that car. I felt sorry for a young girl that was with us. She told me that her mother had been dead a year. That her father had started looking at her in a way that shocked her. And that she is frightened to stay alone with him in the house. We arrived at Asdrubal do Nascimento Street. I went to talk to a woman who wanted to know what had happened with Joao. She asked Joao if he knew what it was to make "Dirty. Dirty." He said he knew. And if he had made "Dirty-Dirty" with that girl. He said he hadn't.

The woman stopped writing and read some papers. Then she proceeded with the questioning. She used slang with the boy. And the questions were obscene, wanting the boy to describe in detail his sexual pleasures. I thought the interrogation was horrible. Vera and Jose Carlos were near enough to hear what the woman said. When she spoke I had the impression I was back in the favela. 

September 30  I am waiting for the Justice official, Senhor Feliciano Godoy. He gave me some summons to distribute here in the favela. I didn't go to Isabel's because those who drink don't obey. She had made peace with her Negro. For her, today is a day of love.
October 3  I got out of bed at 5 o'clock because I want to vote. In the streets all you see are ballots on the ground. I thought of the wastefulness that elections cause in Brazil. I think it's more difficult to vote than to register. And there was a line. Vera started to cry saying she was hungry. The man presiding at the table told me that in the elections you couldn't bring children. I replied I didn't have anyone to leave her with.
October 4  I left the bed upset because I didn't sleep. A neighbor is an intense Adhemar fan and spent all night with the radio on. I passed the slaughterhouse to pick up some bones. Thanks to the elections there was a lot of paper in the streets. The radios are transmitting the electoral results. The ballot boxes favor Senhor Carvalho Pinto.
October 7  A child died here in the favela. He was two months old. If he had lived he would have gone hungry. 
October 12  There was a fight here in the favela because the man who owns the electricity wants 30 cruzeiros an outlet. I have been in the world for such a long time that I am sickening of life. Besides, with the hunger that I experience, who could live happy?
October 16  You all know that I go to get water every morning. Now I'm going to change my diary a bit and just write of what happens to me during the day.
October 17  I did my chores and went out with Vera. I went to Dona Julita to get a bed that she had given me. She is happier because her husband is better. While I was talking with Dona Julita inside the house, two boys carried off the bed. I ran, caught the boys, and took back the bed. I carried it to a Jew who buys used furniture. He examined the bed and said : "I give 20." "Not enough. The bed's worth more!" "I give 25." "Not enough. The bed's worth more!" "I give 30." "Not enough. The bed's worth more!" "I give 35." "Not enough. The bed's worth more!" "I give 40. But it's not worth it."

I was starting to get nervous with our dialogue. He gave me 40 and I started out but stopped in the doorway to watch Vera who wanted more money. She said: "If you don't give my mother more money than that I'm going to take away the bed." The Jew slapped Vera in the face and she started to cry. He told me: "Give her a cruzeiro. I don't have any change." After I had supper I felt ill and laid down. I dreamed. In the dream I was happy.

October 22  Orlando came to collect for the water, 25 cruzeiros. He told me that nobody was permitted to be late with a payment. I gave supper to the boys and they went to lay down and I started to write. I can't write peaceably with the love scenes that are unfolding near my shack. I thought they were going to break down the wall! I was shocked because the woman who is with Lalau is married. I thought: what a dirty common woman. But man for man her own husband is a million times better. I believe that one man should be enough for a woman. A woman who marries must act normal. This story of women changing men as if they were changing clothes is disgusting. Today a free woman, with no obligations, can imitate a pack of cards, passing from hand to hand.
October 23  Orlando lives doing odd jobs. Now that he has become the one in charge of light and water, he's stopped working. In the morning he sits at the spigot giving his opinions. I thought: he'll lose because the tongue of a woman in the favela is acid. It's not bone, but breaks bones. . . .
October 28  I---- separated from her husband and is living with Zefa. Her husband found her with his cousin. Now L--- has begun to commercialize her body, in her husband's presence. I thought: a woman who separates from her husband shouldn't prostitute herself. She should get a job. Prostitution is the moral defeat of a woman. It's like a building that fell. But there are women who don't want to be just for one man. They want to be for all men. They want to be the only lady dancing the quadrille with many men. They leave the arms of one and go to the arms of another. Dona Maria Preta brought her daughter for me to disinfect. Her mouth was covered with sores.
October 29  I got out of bed at 6. I was upset because I didn't sleep. I spent all night repairing the roof where it leaks. I fix one side and it drips in on the other. When it rains I almost go crazy because I can't go for paper or get any money. I feel very cold. I put on three jackets and people who see me in the streets say: "Oh, how fat you got!" The era has passed when a person can put on weight. Jose Baiano's woman told me, and begged me not to tell anything to anybody, that Jose threw her out of the house. They haven't spoken to each other for 20 days. I told her to make peace, because Jose is a good man.
October 30  I went out with Vera. I noted an unusual amount of police in the streets. I talked with a city worker. He complained that he had to pay five cruzeiros on the bus. I went on, looking at the Paulistas walking in the streets with sad faces. I didn't see anybody smile. You could call today The Day of Sadness. I started to add up how much I would spend on the streetcar to take the children into the city. Three kids and I, 24 cruzeiros coming and going. I thought of rice at 30 cruzeiros a kilo. A woman called me and gave me some paper. She said that because of the raise in transportation fares the police were in the streets in case of riots. I was unhappy. I could see that the news of the raise saddened everyone. She told me: "They spend in the elections and afterward raise everything. Auro lost, up went the price of meat. Adhemar lost, up went bus fares. A little on everything, and they'll get back what they spent. It is the people who pay the election expenses!"
October 31  I went to get water. How wonderful! No line! Because it is raining. The women of the favela were upset and chattering. I asked what happened. They said that Orlando Lopes, now the owner of the electricity, had beat Zefa. And she reported him and he was arrested. I asked Geraldina if it was true. She said it was. Nena said that Orlando hit Zefa for real. I went for some paper. Vera went past the slaughterhouse and asked for sausage. I earned 106 cruzeiros. Vera got six cruzeiros, because she went into a bar to ask for some water and they thought she was asking for money. The people are saying that Dr. Adhemar raised the fares to punish the people because he lost at the ballot box. When I got home the boys were already there. I heated the food. There was very little. And they stayed hungry. In all the streetcars they've put a policeman. And the buses too. The people don't know how to fight back. They should go to the mayor's office and the State Assembly and give a kick to these shamefaced politicians who don't know how to run the country. I am unhappy because I didn't have anything to eat. I don't know what we are going to do. If you work you go hungry, if you don't work you go hungry. Many people are saying that we must kill Dr. Adhemar. That he is ruining the country. Bus fares are too expensive. It can't go on like this. Nobody can take it any more. In the morning when I was leaving, Orlando and Joaquim Paraloa came back, returning from jail.
November 1  I found a sack of corn flour in the garbage and brought it home for the pig. I am so used to garbage cans that I don't know how to pass one without having to see what is inside. Today I'm going out to look for paper but I know I'm not going to find anything. There is an old man who is in my territory. Yesterday I read that fable about the frog and the cow. I feel that I am a frog. I want to swell up until I am the same size as the cow. I see that the people are still thinking that we must revolt against the price of necessities and not just attack the transportation company. Dr. Adhemar told the newspapers that it was with an ache in his heart that he signed the raise agreement. Someone said: "Adhemar is mistaken. He doesn't have a heart." "If the cost of living keeps on rising until 1960, we're going to have a revolution!
November 2  I went to wash clothes and stayed by the river until 7:30. Dorca came to wash her clothes and we talked about the shameless riffraff that runs around the favela. We talked about Zefa who gets it every day. I mentioned the women who don't work but always have money. We talked about the love affair between Lalau and Dona M. But Dona M. says that he is having an affair with Nena. Nena is a jerk. I washed the colored clothes and went to make coffee. I thought I had some coffee. I hadn't. A thing that I hate to do is to go into the little room where I sleep, because it is so confining. For me to sweep the room I have to take the bed apart. I sweep the room once every 15 days.

Lunch was ready but the boys didn't come to eat it. Joao disappeared. I figured that he went to the movies. I ate a little and picked up a book to read. Afterward I felt chi1ly and went to sit in the sun. I thought the sun was too hot, so I went to sit in the shade. I talked with a man. He said there was a rumor going around that the favela was going to be torn down because they were going to put an avenue through here. He said it wouldn't be right away. That the mayor doesn't have any money. Joao came home from the movies. I gave him a slap and he beat it fast.

November 3  I found some scrap. I left a little at the junk yard and the rest I took home. When I passed the newsstand I read this student slogan:
]uscelino skins!
Adhemar robs!
Janio kills!
Congress approves!
The public pays!
I stopped near the train tracks to pick up some cans I had left near the watchman's shed and asked him to guard for me. The watchman asked me how much I would receive for the cans. I replied that it should be around 300 cruzeiros. I'm sick and tired of odd jobs. He said they were better than nothing. I told him that oil cans were 70 cruzeiros and now they are only 60. He said: "Instead of going up, they went down." He said that life is very expensive. Even women are more expensive. That when he wants to f--- a woman they want so much money that he gives up the idea. I pretended I didn't hear, because I don't speak pornography. I went away without thanking him.

I gave the children a bath and they went to lie down. I washed the dishes. Later I wrote. I felt tired and sleepy. I laid down. I killed some fleas that were walking around on the bed and laid down again. I didn't see any more. I slept three hours straight. I woke up from the voice of Joaquim Paral'ba, who was complaining that he had got a woman that didn't want to make love in the dark. She would only love him during the day, or at night near a light. I thought: He doesn't have decent intentions toward this woman.

November 4  I went to pick up paper. When I was returning I stopped at a newsstand. I heard a man complaining that the police were donkeys. In a photo a policeman was beating an old man. I decided to take the streetcar and go home. We were talking about Dr. Adhemar, the only name that we can blame for the rise in the cost of transportation. A man told me that our politicians are clowns. I think that Dr. Adhemar is angry, and he decided to be forceful with the people and show them that he had the strength to punish us. But really superior people do not try for revenge.

I got home tired and with my body aching. I found Vera in the street. That blessed Joao, my model son, doesn't pay attention to anything. The shack was wide open and shoes thrown on the floor. He didn't put a fire under the beans. It was 6: 30 when he showed up. I made him light the fire. Then I gave him a beating, with a stick and a belt. And I tore up those disgusting comic books. A type of reading material that I can't stand.

November 5  I went to the store and sold an empty bottle to Senhor Eduardo for three cruzeiros so I could pay on the bus. When I got to the bus stop I met Toninho. He works at the Saraiva Bookshop. I told him: "That's it, Toninho, the publishers in Brazil don't print what I write because I'm poor and haven't got any money to pay them. That's why I'm going to send my novels to the United States." He gave me the addresses of some editors that I should contact.

Went on up the street picking up pieces of scrap iron I found. At Dona Julita's house I asked for some food. She heated some for me. Dona Julita gave me soup, coffee, and bread. I ate it there, in her house. It was 3 o'clock. I didn't feel good. The furniture was spinning around me. It's my body is not used to being invigorated. I made soup for the children. They slept until it had cooked. When it was ready I woke them up to eat. We ate and slept. I dreamt about Dona Julita. That she had asked me to work for her and that she would pay me 4,000 cruzeiros a month. I told her that I would intern my sons. And only take Vera. I woke up. I didn't sleep more. I started to feel hungry. He who is hungry doesn't sleep. When Jesus told the women of Jerusalem: "Don't cry for me. Cry for your own selves," his words were prophesizing the government of President Juscelino. A crown of thorns for the Brazilian people. A crown that the poor have to wear while eating what they find in the garbage or else sleep with hunger. Have you ever seen a dog when he wanted to grab his tail with his mouth and kept spinning around without catching it? It's exactly like Juscelino's government!

November 6  When I got to Dona Julita's it was 8:30. She gave me some coffee. Vera said she would like to live in a house just like Dona Julita's. She made lunch. Vera ate and said: "What delicious food!" Dona Julita's meal left me dizzy. After lunch was over she gave me soap, cheese, lard and rice. That long-needle rice. The rice of people of property.

November 8  I went to the Japanese to shop. I bought a kilo and a half of beans, two of rice, and a half of sugar and one soap. I asked him to add it up. It was 100 cruzeiros. Sugar has gone up. The word in style today is "up." Up! That reminds me of the four lines that Roque made and gave to me to include in my poetry book and say that it was mine:
Politicians on their platform
Promise they will give you raises
And the people find out soon enough
That it's their suffering that was raised.
I went to pick up an old wardrobe closet. A young girl who lived there helped me to carry it down and she gave me a mattress. I wasn't able to put the wardrobe on the wagon. Joao was beginning to get nervous. He said: "Damned hour when I came to get this wardrobe!" The owner of a shoe store helped me put the wardrobe on the wagon. It fell off because the wagon tipped over. There were some men from the light company working. I went up to one and he gave me a rope. I started to tie it. But I couldn't do it. People stopped to look at me. Joao was nervous with their stares. I glared at the employees of the light company and thought: in Brazil there aren't any more men! If there were any they would fix this for me. I must have been born in Hell!

I put the mattress inside the wardrobe. It was worse. The light company workers watched my fight. And I thought: That's all they are good for-staring. I thought: I didn't come into the world to wait for help from anybody! I've managed many things alone, and I have to manage this one here! I had to do something about that wardrobe. I wasn't thinking about men from the light company. I was sweating and I smelt the odor of my sweat. I was startled when I heard a voice in my ear: "Wait a moment. Let me help you."

I thought: now it will be done. I looked at the man and he was handsome. He took the mattress out of the wardrobe and put it on the wagon. Then he put the wardrobe onto the wagon just right so it wouldn't tip over. He took the rope and tied it. Joao was boastful and said: "Thanks to us men!" I was cursing Senhor Manuel when he showed up. He gave me a "good evening." I asked him: "I was cursing you. Didn't you hear?"

"No, I didn't hear anything. "

"I was telling my boys that I wanted to be black. "

"Well, aren't you black.'.

"I am. But I wanted to be one of those scandalous blacks to beat you up and tear your clothes." When he lets a few days pass without coming here, I start cursing him. I say: When he arrives I'll hit him and throw water on him. But when he comes I get weak. He tells me that he wants to marry me. I look at him and think: this man will not do for me. He seems like an actor, just about to go on stage. I like men who can drive nails, who can do something around the house. But when I am lying with him, I think that he will do. I made rice and put water on to boil so I could take a bath. I thought about the words Policarpo's woman said, that when she passed near me I was stinking like a codfish. I told her that I work hard and had just carried more than 100 kilos of paper. And it was a warm day. And the human body is worthless. Anyone who works like I do, must stink!

November 9  I got lunch ready for the children and went to wash clothes. Dona was at the river with a nortista woman who said that her daughter-in-law was in labor pains for the past three days, and she couldn't get in a hospital. They called the patrol car to take her but nothing had been done. The old woman said: "sao Paulo is worthless. If this was the North all I'd have to do would be call in a woman, and it'd be over." "But you're not in the North. You've got to find a hospital for your son's wife." Her son sells in the street market. But he doesn't want to spend anything on his wife because he wants to go back North and is saving his money.
November 12  I was going to go out, but I'm so discouraged. I washed the dishes, swept the shack, made the beds. I was horrified with so many bedbugs. When I went to get water I told Dona Angelina about a dream where I had bought a beautiful piece of land. But I didn't want to live there because it was on the coast and I was afraid the children would fall into the sea. She told me that only in dreams can we buy land. In my dream I saw palm trees bending toward the sea. It was lovely! A dream is the most beautiful thing in the world. Dona Angelina told the truth. The Brazilian people are only happy when they're sleeping. . . .
November 17  I----- and C---- have started to prostitute themselves. With 16-year-old boys. It's a lively game with more than 20 men after them. There is a boy who lives on Port Street. He's yellow and skinny. Looks like a walking skeleton. His mother keeps him in bed all the time, because he is sick and gets tired easily. He only goes out with his mother to beg, because the sight of him touches people. That yellow son is her livelihood. But even he is following I---- and C---- around. So many young boys of 15 and 16 have shown up here in the favela that I'm going to report them to the authorities. I saw the girls from the candy factory. So clean. I---- and C---- could work. They're not even 18 years old yet. They are unfortunates who started their lives in mud.

Today I'm sad. God should have given a happy soul to this poetess. Pitita ran out with her husband right after her. The children watch these scenes with delight. Pitita was half naked. And the parts that a woman should cover up were visible. She ran, stopped, and picked up a rock. She threw it at Joaquim. He ducked and the rock hit a wall, right over Teresinha's head. I thought: she was just born again! Francisca started saying that Joaquim was worthless. That he is only good for making babies. Leila shouted that Pitita was fighting with Joaquim because he was sleeping with I----

I---- is being fought over in the favela. She left her husband. Leila in a fight is like gasoline on fire. She drags people into them like a spider with a web. When Pitita fights everyone comes to see. It's a pornographic spectacle. The children were saying that Pitita had lifted up her dress. I went inside the house. I lie there listening to Pitita's voice. The evening in a favela is bitter. All the children know what the men are doing. . . with the women. They don't forget these things. I feel sorry for the children who live in the garbage dump, the filthiest place in the world.

November 20  I looked at the sky. It darkened as if we were going to have some rain. I got up, made coffee, and swept out the shack. I saw the women looking toward the river. I went to see what it was. I had some onions that Juana gave me because I gave her some tomatoes. I told Vera to watch the onions and went to ask the women what there was in the river. "There is a child that can't get out of the water." I went to look. I thought: if it is a child, I'll cross the Tiete to take her out, even if I have to swim in the water. I ran to see what it was. It was one of those wicker baskets they pack cheese in that was floating. I went back and started to write.
November 21  I saw many people in Leila's shack. I went to see what was going on. I asked Dona Camilia what happened. "It's her daughter. She died." "But what did she die of?" "I don't know." Tiredness overtook me. I laid down. I woke up with a crash near my window. It was Ida and Analia. The fight started back at Leila's place. They don't respect even the dead. Joaquim intervened asking them to respect the body. So they went to fight in the street. . . . From my window I can see Leila's daughter in her coffin. The devils don't even respect the death watch. It looks more like a party. The moon is marvelous. The night is warm. That's why the favelado is restless. Someone is playing the accordion, others are singing. A third of them are praying for Leila's daughter. The coffin is white. I'm going to lie down. The noise is great, but I'm going to lie down. Here anything is a reason for an orgy.
November 22  I got out of bed at 5 o'clock and went to get water. I looked in Leila's shack. I saw Jose do Pinho in the midst of those tramps. I thought: such a beautiful boy. . . Everybody is complaining that the wake for Leila 's daughter was disgusting. That it went on all night and didn't let anybody sleep. The hearse arrived to take away Leila's daughter. She started to cry. As soon as the child was gone, Leila began to drink. I have to admire these souls in the favela. They drink because they're happy. And drink because they're sad. Drink here is a comforter, in the sad as well as glad moments.
November 23  I got some scrap iron ready to sell at the junk yard. I made two trips. I earned 178 cruzeiros. I telephoned the Folhas to send some reporters to the favela to throw out some gypsies who are camping here. They throw their excrements in the street. People who live near the gypsies complain that they talk all night long, and don't let anybody sleep. They are violent and the favelados are afraid of them. But I've already shown them that with me the soup is thicker.

The girls run naked and the tramps sit near their shack, watching. The bad part is that if something displeases them, the gypsies riot. But their nudity is exciting. Right now I'm listening to a fight between gypsy and favelado. I'll take our favelado vagabonds a thousand times to those gypsies.

November 26  I went for water. I looked at the place where the gypsies had camped. They only stayed three days, but it was long enough to annoy us. They are disgusting. The place where they were is filthy and has a foul odor. An unknown odor.
November 27  I am pleased with my literate children. They understand everything. Jose Carlos said that he is going to be a distinguished gentleman and that I'll have to treat him as Senhor Jose. They have one ambition: they want to live in a house of bricks. I went to sell paper. I got 55 cruzeiros. When I was coming back to the favela I met a woman who was complaining because she had been fired from her city job. How horrible it is to hear the poor lament. The voice of the poor has no poetry. In order to cheer her up I told her that I had read in the Bible that God said he was going to fix everything up in the world. She became happy and asked: "When is this going to be, Dona Carolina? How wonderfull. And just as I wanted to kill myself!"

I told her to be patient and wait for Jesus Christ to come to earth and judge the good and the bad. "Ah! Then I will wait." She smiled. I said good-by to the woman, who was more cheerful. I stopped to fix the sack that was sliding off my head. I stared at a vacant lot. I saw purple flowers. The color of the bitterness that is in the hearts of the starving Brazilians.

November 28  I went for water. There was nobody, just me and the daughter of T---- ( the woman who gets pregnant and nobody knows who the father of her children is). She says that her children are her own father's doings. . . .
December 5  Leila told me that Dona D.'s daughter has been arrested because her husband caught her in adultery with a Baiano that has two gold teeth. Today I inaugurated a new radio. I played it until midnight. I heard the tango programs. Orlando turned on the electricity. Now I have to pay 75 cruzeiros a month, because he charges 25 per outlet.
December 6  I left the bed at 4 a.m. I turned on the radio to listen to the day dawn with a tango. I was shocked when I heard the children saying that the son of Senhor Joaquim went to school drunk. The boy is 12 years old. Today I am very sad.
December 8  In the morning the priest came to say Mass. Yesterday he came in the church car and told the favelados that they must have children. I thought: why is it that the poor have to have children--is it that the children of the poor have to be workers? In my humble opinion who should have children are the rich, who could give brick houses to their children. And they could eat what they wanted. When the church car comes to the favela, then all sorts of arguments start about religion. The women said that the priest told them that they should have children and when they needed bread they could go to the church and get some. For Senhor Priest, the children of the poor are raised only on bread. They don't wear clothes or need shoes.
December 11  I was complaining to Dona Maria das Coelhas that what I earned wasn't enough to keep my children. That they didn't have clothes or shoes to wear. And I don't stop for a minute. I pick up everything that I can sell, and misery continues right by my side. She told me that she is sick of life. I listened to her lament in silence. And told her: "We are predestined to die of hunger."
December 13  A nortista woman was complaining that she and her sons are going back to the interior because they couldn't find jobs here in sao Paulo. They're going to pick cotton. I felt sorry for her. I have picked cotton. I felt sorry for her.
December 14  This morning there was a Mass. The priest told us not to drink, for the man who drinks doesn't know what he's doing. That we must drink lemonade and water. Many people went to the Mass. He said that it was a pleasure for him to be with us. But if that Father lived with us he would soon change his tune.
December 16  While I was talking with Senhor Venancio, I saw a disgusting sight. The wife of that mulatto who lives in front of Senhor A. was making love to Joao Nortista. That one that has two gold teeth.
December 18  I was writing. She asked me: "Dona Carolina, am I in that book? Let me see!"

"No. Who's going to read this is Senhor Audalio Danta and he's going to publish it."

"Well, why am I in it?"

"You are here because of that day when Armin fought with you and started to slap you, and you ran naked into the street." She didn't like that, and told me: "What are you going to gain by this? I decided to go back into the house. I looked at the sky with its black clouds that were ready to turn into rain.

December 19  I awoke with a stomach ache and vomiting. Sick and with nothing to eat. I sent Joao to the junk yard to sell a few rags and some scrap iron. He got 23 cruzeiros. It wasn't even enough to make soup. What torture it is to become sick in a favela! I thought: today is my last day above ground. I felt that I had gotten better. I sat on the bed and began to look for fleas. The idea of death had faded. And I started to make plans for the future. Today I didn't go out to pick up paper. Let happen whatever God wills.
December 20  The old people say that at the end of the world life is going to be empty and drab. I think that's pure talk, because Nature continues to give us everything. We have the stars that shine. We have the sun that warms us. And the rains that fall from high to give us our daily bread.

I was getting ready to go to bed when Duca appeared, asking me to report Senhor Manuel, because he bought a television and the television captured all the electrical energy and left the favela without lights. She was wrong. The television wasn't even connected. Something that I never want to do is defame Senhor Manuel. He is the most distinguished man in the favela. He has been here for nine years. He leaves the house and goes right to work, never misses a day. Never fights with anyone. Never was arrested. He is the best-paid man in the favela. He works for the Count Francisco Matarazzo [the richest man in sao Paulo, if not all Brazil, who commands the biggest industrial empire in Latin America].

December 24  Today I am lucky. There are many papers in the street. At 5:00 I got dressed to go to the Spirit of the Divine Master Center to get the Christmas handouts. I got the children dressed and left. I heard voices: "They're giving out cards!" I ran to see. I saw the favelados surrounding a car, and the people running. There was only the driver in the car . The people pleaded: "Give me one. Give me one." The driver said: "You're dirtying the car!" I asked him: "What is it you're handing out?"

"I came to bring a man to the favela. I don't know what these people are asking for."

"It's Christmas season, and when an automobile comes here, they think you came to distribute presents." "I'll never again come here at Xmas," said the driver looking at us with disgust. There were so many people around the car that I couldn't even note down the number of the license plate. At the Spirit Center the line was enormous when we got there. Ten children of a nortista were begging for bread. Dona Maria Preta gave 15 cruzeiros to her. She went to buy bread. Senhor Pinheiro, the very respected President of the Spirit Center, came out to talk to the beggars. A man went by, stopped and stared at us. He said loud enough for me to hear: "Is it possible that these people are of this world?"

I thought this was funny and replied: "We are ugly and badly dressed, but definitely of this world." I cast an eye over that crowd to see if they looked mortal or as if from another planet. The man went on smiling. And I keep on analyzing. When we got in to receive our gifts my number was 90. I and the others got presents and food: clothes, tea, potatoes, rice, and beans. . . .

December 25  XMAS DAY. Joao came in saying he had a stomach ache. I knew what it was for he had eaten a rotten melon. Today they threw a truckload of melons near the river. I don't know why it is that these senseless businessmen come to throw their rotted products here near the favela, for the children to see and eat. In my opinion the merchants of sao Paulo are playing with the people just like Caesar when he tortured the Christians. But the Caesars of today are worse than the Caesars of the past. The others were punished for their faith. And we, for our hunger! In that era, those who didn't want to die had to stop loving Christ. But we cannot stop loving eating.
December 26  That woman who lives on Paulino Guimaraes Street, number 308, gave a doll to Vera. We were passing when she called Vera and told her to wait. Vera said to me: "I think I'm going to get a doll." I replied: "And I think we are going to get bread." I sensed her anxiety and curiosity to see what it was going to be. The woman came out of the house with the doll. Vera said to me: "Didn't I tell you! I was right!" She ran to get the doll. She grabbed it and ran back to show me. She thanked the woman and told her that the other girls in the favela would be jealous. And that she would pray every day that the woman should be happy and that she was going to teach the doll how to pray. I'm going to take her to Mass so she can pray for the woman to go to Heaven and not to have any painful illnesses.
December 27  I tired of writing, and slept. I woke up with a voice calling Dona Maria. I remained quiet, because I am not Maria. The voice said: "She said that she lives in number 9." I got up, out of sorts, and went to answer. It was Senhor Dorio. A man that I got to know during the elections. I asked Senhor Dorio to come in. But I was ashamed. The chamber pot was full. Senhor Dorio was shocked with the primitive way I live. He looked at everything surprisedly. But he must learn that a favela is the garbage dump of sao Paulo, and that I am just a piece of garbage.
December 28  I lit a fire, put water on to boil, and started to wash the dishes and examine the walls. I found a dead rat. I'd been after him for days, and set a rat trap. But what killed him was a black cat. He belongs to Senhor Antonio Sapateiro. The cat is a wise one. She doesn't have any deep loves and doesn't let anyone make a slave of her. And when she goes away she never comes back, proving that she has a mind of her own. If I talk about a cat it is because I am happy that she has killed the rat that was ruining my books.
December 29  I went out with Joao and Vera and Jose Carlos. Joao took the radio to be fixed. When I was on Pedro Vicente Street, the watchman at the junk yard called me and said that I was to go and look for some bags of paper that were near the river. I thanked him and went to find the sacks. They were bags of rice that had rotted in a warehouse and were thrown away. I was shocked seeing that wasted rice. I stared at the bugs that were there, and the cockroaches and rats that ran from one side to another. I thought: Why is the white man so perverse? He has money, buys and stores rice away in the warehouse. He keeps playing with the people just like a cat with a rat. . . .
December 31  I spent the afternoon writing. My boys were bouncing a ball near the shacks. The neighbors started to complain. When their kids play I don't say anything. I don't fight with the children because I don't have glass in the windows and a ball can.t hurt a board wall. Jose Carlos and Joao were throwing a ball. The ball fell in Victor's yard, and Victor's wife punched a hole in it. The boys started to curse her. She grabbed a revolver and ran after them. If the revolver had fired! I'm not going to sleep. I want to listen to the sao Silvestre race [a traditional footrace through the downtown streets of sao Paulo every New Year's Eve]. I went to the house of a gypsy who lives here. It bothers me to see his children sleeping on the ground.

I told him to come to my shack at night and I would give him two beds. If he came during the day the women would transmit the news, because everything here in the favela is news. When the night came, he came. He said he wants to settle here and put his children in school. That he is a widower and likes me very much. And asked me if I want to live with or marry him. He hugged me and kissed me. I stared into his mouth adorned with gold and silver. We exchanged presents. I gave him some candy and clothes for his children and he gave me pepper and perfume. Our discussion was on art and music. He told me that if I married him he would take me out of the favela. I told him that I'd never get use to riding in a caravan. He told me that a traveler's life was poetic. He told me that the love of a gypsy is as deep as the ocean and as hot as the sun.

That was all I needed. When I get old I'm going to become a gypsy. Between this gypsy and me there exists a spiritual attraction. He did not want to leave my shack. And if I could have I would not have let him leave. I invited him to come over any time and listen to the radio. He asked me if I was alone. I told him that my life was as confusing as a jigsaw puzzle. He likes to read so I gave him some books. I went to see the appearance of the shack. It was pleasanter after he set up the beds. Joao came looking for me, saying that I was lingering too long. The favela is excited. The favelados are celebrating because it is the end of a year of life. Today a nortista woman went to the hospital to have a baby and the child was born dead. She is taking transfusions. Her mother is crying because she is the only daughter.

There is a dance in Victor's shack.