Author: Carla Sousa

Who tells the story: Anonymous

Partner: Lusófona University

Title: The Silver Bracelet

Lusófona: Beginner

Language: English

Abstract: This is the story of José, Rita’s grandfather, a simple man who never went to school. A poor boy who grew up without his parents and always felt rejected. Rita, a young successful woman, wears her grandfather’s silver bracelet engraved with his name and always looks up at him as an example of a good, hardworking and loving man, from who she has learned a lot.

Keywords: poverty, family, rejection, memory, love 

The Silver Bracelet

We are in the year 2021, a young woman, Rita, wears a very beautiful silver bracelet. Every move she makes with this bracelet on her arm is safe and confident.


The bracelet is, as I said, very beautiful and very simple. It has a name and a date engraved on it – José, 14/09/1938. Is this the name and the date of birth of its original owner? If this is the case, why is this girl wearing it?


The bracelet was bought and engraved in the typical Lisbon neighbourhood of Madragoa in 1962. A young man, around 24 years old, who works for a huge company that manages sailing ships receives his monthly paycheck and goes to the jewellery shop to buy this bracelet, with his name and date of birth, for good luck. After that, he goes to the clothing shop and buys a new suit, identical to the one he is wearing, but clean.


With the bracelet on his wrist and a bag with the new suit, he continues his walk. The women selling fishing scream, trying to sell their fish to the people. Their children are at home, waiting for the money from the sales to eat at least one hot meal. The times are difficult in Portugal and poor people live very badly.


José reaches a house with a half-destroyed door. He enters the house, washes his face with water from a deposit, and quickly washes the rest of his body the same way. He puts on the new suit and puts the dirty one in the same bag. He walks up the street and enters the pawnshop, where he greets Maurício, the owner, and an old friend. José sells his dirty suit. Maurício’s wife washes it and they sell it for a good price at the pawnshop. But why? Why not wash it himself? Why this lack of structure and organization?


Strange way of life or Estranha forma de vida is one of the most famous Fado songs from the diva Amália Rodrigues. Involuntarily, this was the soundtrack of José’s life. His mother dies when he is four years old. From this day on, José and his brother are somehow abandoned by their dad in the house of an aunt, a widow called Rosa. She is a good heart but also has other six kids of her own to feed. While she is working, the kids are alone at home. Whenever she goes out, José and his older brother also go out to the market to steal some fruit for them and their cousins. 


One day, Rosa tells José that he has to go to school. Against his will, the young boy has to go to the local boys’ school. On the first day of school, a photographer usually goes there to take a picture of the kids to sell to the parents. But in these times of extreme poverty and segregation, only the kids with shoes and clean clothes can be photographed. José is so humiliated that he jumps the school’s wall and never returns.


With the clean suit, money from the paycheck, and some more money from selling the dirty suit, José goes down the street to see his father who is married to an old woman, very wealthy, and is now living with his older brother in a huge house.

His father lives in an impressive house, a huge Pombaline apartment, with more than ten rooms. As he enters, in a very unfriendly manner, looks his father in the eye. The father wants to introduce him to someone. A woman that is now working as a seamstress for his wife.


The next day, José meets the girl, probably a bit older than him. Maria is small and short, frail-looking and frowning. Her steps are those of someone strong, and her face was beautiful. It is not love at first sight, because perhaps José does not know the meaning of the word love well enough to define it. They sit on a bench. She explains that she is from far away, from Alentejo. She is a single mother. She lives in her brother’s house with two small daughters and works as a seamstress.


Most men think it is shameful to have a relationship with a woman who had another man before. But that is not how José thinks and feels. The parallels between that woman’s suffering and his, being rejected by his family, the idea that the children are growing up without a father… all this makes him feel that it has to be her. Maybe it is not the story of love at first sight that films teach us is the perfect one, but it is the story of an encounter of two lost souls. Since they have each other, José and Maria never felt abandoned again. They marry some weeks later, and we can probably say they lived happily ever after.


The silver bracelet is on Rita’s wrist. She finishes her day at work and enters the car, thinking how terrible it is that we have to work so hard to give our family a better life and, at the same time, we have less time to spend with them. She decides that she will visit her grandparents before going home.


Her grandfather welcomes her at the door with a smile. She cannot understand how he keeps smiling, at his age, being the primary caregiver for her grandmother who has dementia and is increasingly dependent. To her, this is a mystery: how that man managed to have such a successful career without even knowing how to read. How that man became an incredible father to his children and even to those who were not biologically his. How he went from someone unable to do his laundry to someone who does all the household chores and takes care of his wife, from feeding her, to bathing her, to combing her hair. Perhaps she has never been able to say in all the words why he is her greatest inspiration in everything she does. Maybe she never will. Still, she hugs him and, with tear-filled eyes, looks at him and says: 


Look, I always wear your bracelet!

Project 2020-2-RO01-KA205-080819 STORYLINE

Funded by the Romanian National Agency of the Erasmus+ Programme

Start date: 01-11-2020

End date: 31-10-2022

Copyright © 2020 – 2022 STORYLINE

This web-site reflects the views only of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use, which may be made of the information contained therein.

Versiune - 0.1

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google