He was a fisherman in his hometown. When he couldn’t survive on fish he was doing a little of this and that. One day he moved from Maganja da Costa to the “big city” carrying with him a small suitcase and only half of his generous heart. His wife was left behind with the elderly and the children, that’s why he often made clear that he was here because he had no other choice. With no work at home, what has become of a man?
A local tradition says that a man is only prepared to have a family if he works for a certain period of time in the South African mines. As today the mines don’t absorb so many workers as they used to, the majority of young Mozambicans stays in the capital praying for some other chance.
Because he truly understood the meaning of the relation man-work, he never said no to any kind of job. His smile was open and easy, just like a child’s. He lived and worked near me. As it happens with most of the machuabos (people from a place called Chuabo, in Zambezia), he soon had a second family but his heart never stopped aching for the open spaces of his hometown and the seductive appeal of the wind playing through the palm tree foliage of the plantations.
He smiled a lot but life didn’t smile back at him. First he received the news that his eldest sister passed away. He cried for a long time, yet he survived. One day someone called to tell him about the death of his only baby child and I saw him break like a tree fustigated by the roughness of the seaside wind.
Since then he continued to execute his usual routines but I could see that he was a different man. Life knocked him hard. Other fatal blows came in a row: the death of a brother, also trying to survive in the restlessness of the jungle where we live, and then it was the turn of his first wife in Maganja. In just a couple of years he watched his family die one by one.
For some his story is a witchcraft case, while for others nothing else but a sad result of life contingencies. “The bitch is sometimes so tough with people!”
Pain and confusion transformed his eternal big child smile into a pale shadow of happiness. His life became a bad dream, and because of that he couldn’t see the car that hit him. His name could be Zacarias or so many other names with a similar fate. I only write today about such unfortunate events because I want him, emigrated machuabo in the land of no return, to know that at least someone from the big city still remembers his gentle Zambezian manner.