Best of February/March 2018


 

Renewal
No place shows us the capacity for renewal like Africa. In the last few days I had a clear idea of ​​this when I witnessed:

1. The fantastic weather in March.

2. Young giraffes in the reserve that we cross to get to Ponta do Ouro.

3. The first leopard in Gorongosa in 14 years!!!

4. Three months of incredible freedom!!!

5. The works in the church that finally seem to move forward.

6. Knowing that I am happy and will be happy whatever happens in the near future.

7. Although the new neighbors evoke the Gaza Strip, the truth is that I am the exception in an area where embassies, diplomats and government officials predominate. Until when can I fight the tide? This is a very interesting challenge.

8. It was good to know that I could easily dance in public, even if I would have trouble in getting my legs up or proclaiming the size of a woman’s (or a man’s) organ.

This capacity for innovation makes us feel strong and capable of facing the toughest trials. Africa is a woman, although for bizarre reasons some insist on considering it neutral. Long live the extraordinary women of these lands!

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Fairy Tales


 

There are people who remind us of fairy tales. Do not ask me the reason. Yesterday I remembered that there is a child I call “the tall boots girl”. The reason is that when I first saw her, about four or five years ago, she wore boots that looked bigger than her. Today she remains a strong girl, despite her very fragile appearance. She has grown a little and is already in school.

She knows me (her brothers too) by Rapunzel. I do not think it’s just because of the long hair. Maybe it’s also because I live in a tower, always waiting for my prince charming.

Aunts


 

I just had an uncle. I could describe him as a hard-working, friendly and peaceful man. The rest were all aunts. A week ago I found myself thinking about the contrast between my aunts and if that contrast would explain what I am as a person. Let’s see…

There were three aunts on my father’s side. My Aunt C was the oldest and the only one who married at the “right age.” The remaining two, aunt AL and aunt AD, married late to ensure that they would not be alone in the world. If I had to describe them, I would say, for example, that they were good cooks, good housewives, very clean, serious, demanding, rude, wild, suspicious, greedy, unsociable, and suckers for a good intrigue.

There were two aunts on my mother’s side. The middle one died in her teens, leaving only aunt A, the eldest, and my mother. I tend to think of them as inclined to indolence. They showed little interest in domestic things and they were gourmand, careless, affable, credulous, passionate, submissive, cheerful, friendly and sociable.

Looking at the very different characteristics of these women, I can not help but admit that I may be a sort of “mixed salad”.

Why?


 

Very close to my birthday, I found myself thinking about old friends. By circumstances that have to do with my character and others that have more to do with my personal history, I am kind of alone.

One thing I have discovered is that most people have friendships that have to do with family relationships. They are family friends, often made through parents, siblings, uncles and other family members. I do not have such kind of friends (nor school friends), because we lived in too many places and my father always stayed away from relatives and his hometown.

I can say that my father was nomad and my mother, who liked to settle anchors and cultivate friendships, was sedentary. Looking back, she only managed to have a period in her own way when, for about eight years, she lived apart from my father. This allowed us to make friendships that later, due to a new interference of my father in our life, were lost in time.

It is curious how, on my birthday, I remembered one of these friends, made through family ties. She had a queen’s name and the beauty of a goddess. Her eyes were the most perfect green and her long hair was always caught in two thick braids that resembled a medieval lady. I think it was a tradition, in her family, to just cut their hair when they got a great deal in life, like going to college, getting a good job, or getting married.

She was not one of my best friends, but we were pretty close. I think she even cut her hair and did many of the things she dreamed about. The last time I heard of her I knew she had committed suicide. She had a husband and teenage children. At a time when I face gigantic difficulties, I look at the case of some friends who committed suicide and I cannot understand. Their cases have nothing to do with money or personal success, whether family or career. What would have happened to those few good friends who grew tired of living? By the time I celebrated my birthday, facing so many problems that could bring me down, I can not help asking this question: why?

Two Stains on the Wall


 

The house where I live has a curious past. It was built in the 50s according to the design of a well-known architect. The first couple who lived here had no children. I heard, recently, that she knew she could not have children and hid it from him. They were very unhappy.

The opposite happened with the next couple in this house. He said he could not have children right after the wedding. The consequence was another problematic relationship. Probably as a reminder of those two lies, there are two bloody spots on the wall. No matter how hard we try, we could never erase them.

Can the unhappiness of people be transmitted to the houses where they lived? I have a clear notion that this house is saddish. The third couple living here, who should not have lied to each other, faced the challenge to make it more joyful and failed.

Bad Dreams


 

Nightmares hurt me a lot. I suffer much more during sleep than I am capable of suffering in reality. When anything nasty happens in real life, I am awake and alert. I am able to control my emotions and actions.

During sleep things get out of control. My ability to suffer increases in a frightening way. When I wake up, I vividly remember the dream and feel the pain in my chest. The pain is real and doesn’t seem like a good thing to feel. Sometimes hours go by before I can get rid of the oppression of such painful feelings.

My reactions are extreme and show a lack of control. Sometimes during the nightmare, I divide myself into two different people, to be able to demarcate from the actions of the other self. For what I do as I dream, I suppose I control myself too much. I have a fair amount of repressed. That’s why I like to write suspense and horror or activities like tae bo.

Until my adolescence, I had periods of night terrors and somnambulism. The way I experience nightmares can be a residue from the past. Then I had the reassurance of my parents’ arms. These days I hug myself until the pain disappears.

Names


 

There’s a character in a Jorge Amado novel called Tieta (Tieta do Agreste). Even though my cook has her own proper name, for some unknown reason she is called Tieta. She has been cooking and doing things in this house for almost two decades.

Last week, she was peeling sweet potatoes for a soup when she started mourning with pain. I rushed from the living, deeply worried. My first thought was that she could have seriously injured her hand or fingers with the sharp Swiss knife she likes to use. I run to the kitchen and asked. No answer from her side. She was bend over the sink, her arms hanging motionless and producing frightful noises. As I looked around and no blood was visible, I decided to give her some time to express the pain or whatever she was feeling. I looked at the time. It was just a little past 9am. I returned to the living.

Then I remembered Tieta’s mother. She is an old lady and something could have happened to her. Believing that such pain could only come from losing her mother, I returned to the kitchen and asked her again. As no signal came from her side, I decided to conclude that I was right. I approached a chair, where she sat, and rubbed her back. I left her on the chair, still mourning.

A few minutes later the mourning turned into a more strident noise, forcing me to see what was happening in the kitchen. It sounded like the fact that I knew about her mother was making her vocalize her pain with more intensity, what I believe to be the usual behavior of someone in shock. I found her twisting and yelling on the floor, between the chair and the stove. I told her: “Don’t you think you would feel more comfortable on the chair?” As she didn’t had a visible reaction, I went to the front garden and asked the guard to go around and see if he could help her, since all my efforts seem to be in vain. In fact, I was getting worried with the house routines. I had been waiting for her to calm down for more than an hour. I couldn’t even do her job, since she was blocking my access to the sink and stove.

Half an hour later, he succeeded in removing her from the kitchen and making her sit in a sunny place outside. I do believe the sun has curative powers over depressed people. It was almost 11am, nearly two hours after the mourning and yelling started, when I grabbed a less sharp knife to finish her job.

Suddenly, a very composed Tieta entered the kitchen and said: “I can’t work today. I am not sick but I have to go home. I don’t even explain what happened since you, white people, don’t understand our ways.” Her voice was firm and her tone was even of defying superiority. After being reassured that her mother was okay, I told her to go.

As soon as I could, I called the guard Sansão, whose real name is Samessone, because that’s how they pronounce around here, in Portuguese, the actual English version Samson, and asked: “After all, what on earth she had?” It was then that he, very respectfully, confirmed what I would never have guessed: “She had been possessed by a spirit.”