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Father's Day stories: "My Dad, Marinheiro and Me"

In honour of Father's Day, we're sharing some of the best stories about fathers that we received in our BloodLines writing competition. Here, Jack Pereira shares the story of his dad, a cab driver on the streets of Rio, and the playful dog that would always beat him home.

"My Dad, Marineiro and Me" by Jack Pereira

My father, now a man in his late 60s, came to Canada from Rio de Janeiro in the 70s, "in hopes of a better life". Whether or not he found that is not for me—or him, truth be told—to say. 

He has told me many stories from his time in Brazil, but one that always stuck with me is from his time as a cab driver. As a cab driver on the streets of Rio, my dad found many ways to escape the hustle and bustle of his job. 

One avenue my dad used to take a break every day was to wear a Speedo under his work clothes and park near Copacabana and take a dip. Another of my father’s respites involved his dog—who he described as a mutt—named Marinheiro. My dad would take his beloved dog along with him and let him loose at the beginning of his shift, far from home, near the sandy paradise of Copacabana. 

Without fail, Marinheiro would be at home when my father’s shift was over. Presumably this unseemly dog would follow his nose through the streets of Rio to the borough of Realengo. Through the sounds of samba, the smells of paçoca, pastels and under the gaze of Cristo Redentor, that mutt would get himself home. 

When my dad went back to Brazil for a visit a few years after immigrating to Toronto, Marinheiro bit him, hard, leaving a scar that my dad often shows off before telling the above story. Flesh was broken because Marinheiro no longer recognized him or because my dad could not communicate with his former pet. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.

Eventually my father settled in Toronto, where a new dog was not in the cards. The cramped apartments of Toronto’s Flemingdon Park are no home for a canine. The freedom and fast pace of cab driving in Rio replaced with the slow hard work of a butcher, one who worked six days a week.

Where my father did find pride was in fatherhood, a role he filled twice over, with my sister and myself. He held onto us tight, as I'm sure he did his dog Marinheiro. At times too tight.

When he did let go, we, much like his dog, were let loose on the streets, although these were covered in asphalt as opposed to sand. Sure, we've bit hard too at times. However, much like Marinheiro, we always stay true and return home when in need or needed ourselves.


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