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Grandpa David by RicardoBarber

In August of that year, my grandpa died. He was a man very cheerful, funny, a little stubborn, but a true friend. Sometimes before bedtime, he would tell me the story of how he became a barber. I always suspected that part of the story was false, because he liked to exaggerate a bit. But let's all assume that this story is 100% real and have fun as I enjoyed listening to it.

This happened between the 30s 40s, he didn’t remember with exactness. Grandpa David lived in the city of São José do Belmonte, PE. He was being threatened with death there, so he fled to Serra Talhada. Unfortunately, he didn’t know anyone in the city. With little money and without a known around, the first thing he did was try to find a job and a place to spend the night. On that day, the sky was very cloudy and he kept thinking that a good rain would fall at any moment. Immediately the raindrops were falling. At first it was one or two drops, but soon a real rain had formed. Grandpa David ran to the only one establishment in sight that had the door open.

The owner said it was ready to close when Grandpa David entered. He invited him to sit down, that he would attend him, and that was when my grandpa saw that he had entered a barbershop. He apologized and explained that he wouldn’t go to cut his hair, and that he had got in there to protect himself from the rain if the barber allowed it. Even so, the barber invited him to sit on the barber chair. Grandpa David sat down, the barber turned the chair backwards to the mirror, sat down on the customer's bench, and engaged in conversation with my grandpa. They talked a little when the barber saw that the direction of the wind was making the rain enter the barbershop. He closed the door and turned on a lamp to light the place a little more.

The barber, Severino, was a few years older than my grandpa. His hair was going from black to white. He wore glasses and had a deep voice.

One word leads to other, and grandpa told his story. Where he came from, how he arrived to that town, and that he was looking for work and a place to stay. Severino got up, stay behind my grandpa and took something that grandpa couldn’t see. The next thing David realized was that Severino was capping him. My grandpa repeated that he didn’t want to cut his hair and said he didn’t have much money for it. Severino gave a smile, said that my grandpa didn’t have to worry, that he would make the cut for free. My grandpa didn’t understand. Severino explained that my grandpa's hair was a bit long to the town. He also explained that a good haircut would do my grandpa feel very good because the city was a very hot place. Since my grandpa didn’t want to be rude, and since the cut was free, he stay quiet and let Severino do his job. Severino picked up hand clippers (the electric clippers hadn’t come here yet) and put it to the back of my grandpa's neck.

The barber ran the clippers from the neck to the crown, then passed the right side and then the left (sometimes my grandpa said it was the left side first). The barber left the clippers on the desk and took a pair of scissors and a comb to work on the top. In a few minutes Severino finished his work and turned my grandpa to face the mirror. He saw that he was with the same cut of Severino, but a little shorter. My grandpa said that his hair had about 3 cm at the sides and back and 5 cm at the top when he entered the barbershop, and that Severino reduced them to 1 / 2cm on the sides and back and 2cm on the top. The cut was something like what we know by Ivy League, today.

Grandpa was getting up from his chair when Severino asked if he knew how to cut hair. He explained that the work was increasing and he might need another barber at the barbershop. There was a room at the back of the barbershop with another barber chair, which would be placed with the other for two barbers to work there. Severino said that my grandpa could have the room if he wanted too. My grandpa was very happy. His two problems were solved at once thanks to a stranger. My grandpa didn’t know how to thank that generosity. Severino explained that a long time ago, the same thing had happened to him (and I’ve never believed in this part), and that an old barber had helped him. Now he was passing the good deed forward.

Grandpa David became an apprentice to Severino in the first weeks. He was always struggling to do a good job and please the man. Over time, my grandpa was able to buy land and build his own house. A few years later, the barbershop had to leave where it was and my grandpa offered the garage of his house to be the new barbershop, which works until today. David was married and had two children, Matthew (my father) and Anthony (my uncle). He called Severino to be their godfather. Severino died a lot after that. My grandpa's wife also died.

My uncle married before my father and moved to Caruaru with his wife. My father was married later and I was born. My mother died shortly thereafter. Life went on with my grandpa and my father working together and taking care of me. I grew up in that environment. When I turned ten, my father began to teach me a little of what he learned from my grandpa, in case I decide to follow the same path as them, but only when I was 15 did I really help the barbershop. Today, I work in the barbershop together my father.

Like I said, I don’t know to what extent this story is real because of my grandpa's craze to exaggerate. He always tried to fill the space of a maternal figure that I didn’t have. I know I will miss my grandpa, but I will always remember the good times and bad times we spent together.

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