One day, we had the idea of creating a section about the people who are behind the scenes, without whom routines would not happen. It is called “this side of the way” and it is through this open window that we look at some people from the Faculty, whom we see every day and often do not know what they are saying behind a “good morning” said on arrival.
At work she is known as Inácia, but her family prefers to call her just Maria. Every day from 7 am to 3 pm Maria Inácia says "good morning" to the dozens of people who pass by her. More attentive than just seeing faces and cards that identify where they are from, Inácia knows if someone is sadder on a particular a day, or if someone is worried. It was the attention she pays to others that made her receive several Christmas gifts from the Faculty staff and students.
At 53 years of age, the uniform could not make has escape from the destiny that she sometimes tried to oppose, but that would be fulfilled even if in a biased manner.
I meet her on the day that the Faculty organized a fire drill on the premises of the Egas Moniz Building. We were alone for a few minutes, enough to allow me to satisfy the curiosity of meeting her. Communicative by nature, she does not mind telling me who she is and explain her old passion for uniforms, a passion equalled by Tiago, her youngest son, who is now working at the Republican National Guard.
I distract her for a moment, I'm aware that Inácia needs to be attentive to the beginning of the drill, but I manage to steal one more piece of information. At 23, she applied to the Judiciary Police, passed all the tests, but bumped against the last physical obstacle, to be purposely eliminated. She was about to get married and there was already a lot of pressure not to venture into these male professions, how would she look after the children when they came? The one who posed problems to her was her future husband, since her own father, who at some point had forbidden her from entering home if she studied in the evening and even closed the door on her, was now proud to have a daughter working in the public security force.
The drill started and I took a picture of her wearing her uniform. After all, it is what she likes the most. Inácia stands discreetly while watching the screens in the security room. Now it is the security of an external company that guarantees the security of the Faculty of Medicine. It was her children who insisted that she took a training course. With great effort, she divided himself between work and classes at the end of the day, paid the course with difficulty, as she always paid for everything in her life. After she completed the course, it was necessary to take tests and this time there were no physical obstacles to trip over. The pressure not to fail made her block out in the tests and she even feared failing falling in the theoretical component. She managed to pass, maybe by a whisker, but it was that whisker that a few days later enabled her to receive a call to come to work for the Faculty of Medicine.
Although she has been here for just a few months, she already knows more people than most of us. She is made up of affections, she is genuine, but there is something of a small girl in her that confers her a certain protagonism.
The younger daughter of a boys-only family, she opposed the Alentejo conservatism of the family that did not like her to be too independent. Life has never been financially easy for her, however, she always helped everyone around her. This required working hard, and her studies were affected. She gave her mother money on the sly so that dinner for everyone was more than just soup. In harder times when her job failed her and she had two babies to support and her house to pay, she went to the local church seeking help.
She did not receive it and told me this looking astonished, as if she expected someone to be generous. A faithful believer in fundamental Christian values, she believes that she healed her son João's trachea when he turned 20 and had anaphylaxis, almost dying asphyxiated in her presence after eating snails. With her son in a coma, she prayed to God and created a support chain so that everyone prayed for her son's life. She believes that the doctors were tireless, showing the same faith as the other Mary mother of Jesus, and she believes that the Virgin returned her son to her. As she also believes that the holy water she made him drink healed his tracheal wounds when he was rescued.
She had many disappointments in her life, including watching for years as a child the serious domestic violence episodes inflicted by her father on her mother. Despite all this, she always saw magic in life and in others. Perhaps she is right to be a naive girl, even at the age of 53, because whereas the church did not help her, a friend who is a priest did. He assembled a food cart, financed by those who wanted to help, and handed it over to Maria Inácia.
She does not regret having stumbled upon the obstacle that prevented her from being a Police Officer, but had she become one, today perhaps she would affirm herself in another way, she explains without regrets.
Her marriage still lasts and she tells me that today they are good friends. She wakes up very early and it is her husband who takes her every morning to the transport that she takes on the south bank to go to the university. She never liked walking around Lisbon alone because she says she gets lost easily, but nowadays that fear has gone. Proud of her children, she thanks her eldest son João for her role as a grandmother of a year and a half little girl.
And despite having, in fact, stumbled across various obstacles that crossed her path against her will, she continues to smile every day and to see magic in her life, asking those who pass by, “so, what is the matter today that is reflected on your face? ”.
No, Inácia is not a Faculty member, but she works here and is a face that makes us ask every time we see her "Inácia, good morning to you too!".