Traffic light, oranges and the pursuit of happiness.

Marcelo Rayel Correggiari
4 min readOct 23, 2020

He sold his oranges under the traffic light at the beach avenue and canal 6.

Necessity, just that. No chance, at least in a near future, for having any other more profitable activity than selling fruits at that junction. The country has dived into deep economic depression since the last impeachment process in 2016, a sort of parliamentary coup d’état which took away the only woman president in the entire Republic history (a Republic skilfully installed, as a matter of fact, by another coup, a militar one in 1889.)

Modern times.

Belonging to a kind of workers’ party, her predecessor made everything, or what was expected from him to be done, to dyhidrate and disallow the party’s historic nuclei. For instance, most of the community radio stations in poor sides of the country’s main cities were shut down and had their licenses denied along The Swarf’s first term. When the impeachment process came to terms — 13 years later — it became impossible to mobilise the entire militancy — especially the old — to jolt public opinion for an eventual Congress’ liturgy breakdown.

Something that definitely tangled the former president in a very secret, intricate plot: one of the main silent accusations against him was the fact he hadn’t been born as a natural union leader during the 1970's, but an operator for the militar dictatorship at that time to run the transition into civil regime in compliance with The Army leaders’ prescription: smooth & gradual.

Sérgio had once said he wouldn’t join the drug dealing business in the community he lived: he promised himself not to cause his mother such grief — vapours generally end up in jail. So, selling oranges was all he could do for a living in a metropolitan region with no good job perspective.

Sometimes he took a quarter to rest: hours and hours walking from car window to car window can be a hell of a tiresome undertaking. Hence, he used to sit down on the curb and read the news published on old newspaper pages he had for wrapping the oranges he sold.

The Press — like school history books — was made for lying. Maybe that’s why a great number of the most renown journalists moved to literature and became famous novelists; a rule , at least, in the Global South. Good news are as fictional as any excellent story, and this art of telling lies with some degree of verisimilitude drives us all to believe good times are always coming — basically the same spell casted by lawyers and solicitors. People used to read the papers to renew their high hopes for a better fate until their own lives didn’t come to an end. Sometimes journalists lied according to what might suit our ears, a bad cover-up game which used to allow public figures like The Swarf get away with all kinds of malfeasance.

Maybe the world would be a better place to live without them, maybe not. No one until now could vaticinate if life would move one up in the case more transparency was involved. There are reasons for lies, and everyone knows them. The place we live would be horrendous if being frank was all we got: unbearable at the highest level.

Sérgio didn’t have the technological comforts most homes these days do. He used to have wi-fi signals on his mobile only when he went to a neighbour pub. His TV set was deemed old with no cable channels on it, making him dream about an smart one: there would be much more fun in spending hours and hours watching all those online web programmes.

Maybe he would finally find out, and watch, Double Express. He would find Swiss Kiss wee strange, discussing some topics really away from his gross reality, just quite like many in the neighbourhood he lived. Perhaps he could learn new things to impress the girls at parties, a way of talking about stuff they didn’t have a clue. If he wasn’t invited, he could spend more time at home, with his mother, watching from football matches to news about things and people who thoroughly left all his family behind, dealing with a sort of life always lacking the basic and the essential.

The news on the papers he used for wrapping the oranges were from a couple of months ago. Nothing he didn’t know yet. The rich lies and steals, the poor loots and end up in prison. He always suspected the French Revolution was the beginning of this hell of modern times, but a closer inspection throughout the mankind history would show the wagon plays the same tune in the last 10 thousand years: nothing new under the sun.

Politicians lie and steal — generaliztion is a dangerous thing, but not for the likes of Sérgio’s neighbours rooted in a sad shantytown with no perspective of better days to come, maybe anyone should considerate there’s some logic backing that way of regarding those unnamed viewpoints. The money vanishing sometimes can be conceived as produced by gate keepers with the scope of a vulture. Sérgio would finish his sales and take the bus back home. He’d stop a while at the bar near his house for some wi-fi — perhaps that was the evening to find out Double Express at last and Swiss Kiss’ personal wars against alleged journalists who seemed always to operate to just one side of the table.



Marcelo Rayel Correggiari

Novelist & translator, author of “Areias Lunares” (short-story reunion) and “O Verão no Café Atlântico” (novel.) Blogger & columnist. From/In Santos, Brazil.