Pedro, the gardener

With my regards to my fellow writers, I leave my inspiration by The ink well weekly call

Pedro, the gardener


Luck began to smile on Pedro one Friday afternoon at four o'clock. Until that day his life had been focused on bringing home the daily food needed to support Amelia and their two children.

Pedro had grown up in a home very similar to that of his current family. A poor home where the important thing was to know how to earn one's daily bread. Pedro did not go to school, and from a very young age he was dedicated to helping his father in the small business of buying and selling vegetables at the local market.

"Pedro needs a gardener, do you dare? It's a permanent job!

The voice came to him from across the street.

And how is that? he asked without much interest.

The neighbour explained that the gardener at the city's Casa de la Cultura had resigned and that they needed someone to maintain the green area, that he would enter a probationary period, that he would work from Tuesday to Sunday, and that, even if he was a gardener, he should always be very punctual. He also told him that he could start the next day.

Peter wrinkled his brow, working at the weekend didn't seem like a good idea. He was waiting, like every Friday, for five o'clock in the afternoon to go to the corner to share a few beers with his friends. That was a fixed routine on the weekends.

Despite his desire to drink beers with his friends, he went back home and told Amalia about the situation. His wife's eyes sparkled as if she was living a fairy tale.

"Take that job," he said simply.

Amalia turned around and began to search through the scanty clothes for her husband's best shirt and trousers.

Early on Saturday morning Pedro found himself thinking he felt like a little child on his first day at school. Dressed neatly, with his shirt impeccably ironed, his shoes polished and his hat on, Pedro stood at the door of the town's cultural centre.

There he was met by the other workers, whom he watched pass by without saying a word. At the end someone approached him to ask him if he had anything to offer, only at that moment Pedro answered that he had come for the job of gardener.

The first change that Pedro noticed in his new job was a kind of appeasement, a particular and joyful experience of silence. Engrossed in watching the flowers grow, in maintaining the grass, in pruning the bushes, in caring for the trees, Pedro never wondered what was going on inside the walls of his workplace. The garden was beautiful, Pedro was very happy with his work, until one day his luck changed again.

The director of the centre came to fetch him from his corner of the garden. There was an emergency, the projectionist of the cinema club had called in sick. It was the first Saturday in June 1998, a children's film season was starting and there was no one to look after the projection room.

"You just have to be attentive and change the reels in this order, like this."

Peter looked almost at the handwritten tape that identified each reel. He imagined it was time to reveal the secret that the director didn't know, because he had never asked him.

"I can't read, sir," he said, like someone announcing the arrival of a cataclysm.

For the first time the director looked him in the eye, kept silent, turned his back, looked for two stools. Then, passing his hands over his men, he drew him close to him and, as one would speak to a child, slowly and calmly made him watch how he placed the first roll of paper. Then he took the other two rolls and placed one on each stool.

"When the first reel is about to finish, you put the one on your right and then the one on your left," he said and hurried off as usual.

During that screening the director showed up a couple of times, but the next day Pedro did the same job, unsupervised. In the middle of the week he was asked to attend the adult screening and Pedro, watching Cinema Paradise, felt like a child again. This time as a projectionist, teaching himself the world.

Time went by for Pedro amidst flowers, the smell of freshly cut grass and admiration for the works of art of universal cinema. Pedro, who was a very simple man at heart, laughed, cried, panicked, and felt relief. He shared everything, open-heartedly, with the protagonists.

On one occasion he felt indescribable shame when a nude scene was unfolding before his eyes. Then he could not restrain himself and placed his hand in front of the beam of light to hide, with his shadow, the realistic shame of a passionate couple.

"What are you doing Peter?" shouted the astonished director, who ran upstairs as soon as the huge hand appeared on the screen.

"There are a lot of ladies in the room," said Pedro.

That time the director finished showing the film. Next to him Pedro seemed to process the shock of what he had seen.

Between rolls of film, Pedro learned to decipher the letters. When he got home, he began to ask his wife to set him reading and writing tasks.

And so the weeks, months and years passed. Fifteen years later Pedro was still working. He maintained the garden and looked after the projection room of the Cinema Club.

He became a reference for good cinema in his village. Young people in particular sought him out to talk about cinema. When someone asked him where he got his passion for cinema from, he always smiled.

"Thanks to cinema I know the whole world", he would say.

Thank you for reading



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