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ZUENIR VENTURA

I feel that if Zuenir Ventura didn't already exist, no-one should ever invent him, just as Balzac said of the press. But both do exist and, by chance, one went and fell into the arms of the other. That was that. But all that happened later on.

Before all that, his father wanted me as young lad to follow in his footsteps and become a decorator; my mother wanted him to study. I did both, or rather, in order to do what both my mother and I wanted, I had to go along with his wishes for a time, that is the time it took to earn enough money to buy a school uniform.

In Nova Friburgo, where I in fact began to grow up, that is if I ever did in fact grow up, I did many things other than painting walls. After my decorating apprenticeship, I became a cleaner at a dentures laboratory. Straight after, I moved on to do the same job in a bar, the Bar Alemão, until managing to get in the door of the Banco Barra do Piraí as an office boy.

But the job where I lasted out longest was the men's outfitter's, the Camisaria Friburgo, where I had a number of responsibilities: I would open the shop in the morning, sweep the floor, make deliveries and, in my free time, serve at the counter: I was what was called a caxeiro – a runner – and there certainly was plenty of that involved.

From the men's outfitter's I moved on to the Cêfel School where I studied science at night and, to pay for that, I taught at the primary school in the morning. It wasn't a step up the social scale but a lift to new heights, a veritable leap ahead which ended up leading me to Rio de Janeiro, where I had always dreamed of going to do one thing or another: i.e. to play basketball for Fluminense, the team I supported, or to study neo-Latin literature in the national School of Philosophy at the former Universidade do Brasil.

As I couldn't do both, I opted for the second alternative which is how I became a teacher of language and literature. A deviation along this career path, however, pushed me into journalism. While in the last year at university, a teacher friend of mine, Élcio Martins, got me a job at Carlos Lacerda's Tribuna da Imprensa, in the archives.

I spent almost a year making press cuttings and selecting photos and then 'moved down' to editing. From that moment on, having never dreamed of becoming a journalist, being practically put there by force, I never again strayed away from the profession, which today comes as second nature to me.

But that's the best-known chapter in my life, and work is still in progress on that front. Since I hope that it will be very long chapter and still intend to make plenty of changes to it, perhaps it's better that I save the definitive version for later – much later, God willing.

So for the time being, this self-portrait of this humble author remains imperfect and incomplete, just like its subject