The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Neighbor's Gift

My father bought the farm “Buriti do Retiro” in the municipality of Morrinhos, southern Goiás state, central Brazil, in 1978, and at that time Goiás had quite a bit of “frontier” on it. We even faced some cattle rustling, and that was solved with a good barbeque party and the proper guest list (but that is another story).

Both my parents were fully licensed lawyers that could practice anywhere in Brazil (my mother still holds her license), but neither ever made a cent practicing law. My mother was a teacher and my father a farmer, and they only did some eventual pro-bono law work. It may appear strange, but that was their case.

We had an elderly neighbor that had a small property (that we eventually bought many years later) that got in a legal dispute for whichever reason with another much larger labor, but could not afford to hire a lawyer. As he risked losing his homestead, he asked for help and my father accepted to represent him.

I don’t know the details, but my father won the case, and when the old gentleman tried to pay him some amount, my father refused to receive any compensation.

One evening sometime later the old gentleman came visiting and brought a gift to my father, the skull and antlers of a “veado-campeiro” (Ozotocerus bezoarticus). The literal translation of veado-campeiro, a superbly beautiful animal, is field-deer or prairie-deer, as it typically occurs in more open or tree-less environments, different than the brocket deer that inhabits quite heavy brush and forests.

The typical veado-campeiro rack is a 3x3, and the gift that we received was exceptionally well formed and symmetric, and I would say of above average size. When we received it, the skull still had some dried skin attached to it, and there were glass marbles in the eye sockets, held in place by cotton balls.

In his typical unselfish way my father mentioned that the gift was very nice, but not necessary, and that the old gentleman did not own him anything, and that he just had helped a neighbor and a friend.

The old man insisted that my father should accept the trophy deer skull, and before leaving he finally said that it would not be proper for him to keep it anyhow, since he had poached it from our own farm.

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