Posts Tagged past lives
This tale began life as one story, but as I was writing it it just kept growing and growing. I became stuck at one point and had no idea how to continue. It then occurred to me that I already had an entire story with a perfect conclusion, but the story still had so much more to tell, so it became two stories and then three and who knows, maybe even four.
I suspect that I will eventually novelise this in the not too distant future, adding greater detail and complexity to both the characters and storyline, but for now, enjoy this and please read The boy who saw God, The boy who became God and the man who was God in the order they should be read, even though I have gone to great pains to make sure they are self-contained units and can be read separately.
The boy who saw God – O menino que viu Deus
Lunch was served and Dionathon came to the table with the same enthusiasm, or lack thereof, as the case may be, as he always did. This was hardly surprising as it was the same lunch that he ate every day, except Sundays, of course, when he had churrasco. Now, let’s not fool ourselves too much; churrasco, for he and his family, was usually galeto – barbecued chicken, and the worst and cheapest cuts of chicken at that, but at least it was something different, something to break the monotony.
He still held fond memories of the day his pai had discovered a great hoard of batteries on the side of the road, heavy with their precious content of lead, and the result of this bonanza was that his pai had splurged and they had feasted on a real churrasco for the first and only time in his memory: vazio, maminha, salsichão, coração de galinha. He would never forget the way his mouth had watered uncontrollably as he had watched it and smelt the delicious aromas rising and permeating the air as it cooked, and then the moment when his teeth had actually bitten into that salty, succulent feast…. ah, his mind, and his stomach, had dwelt on that banquet for many months, no, years and, to be honest, he still remembered it with more fondness than anything else to this day. But that was many years ago! Dionathon had heard whispers and rumours of other delicacies that accompanied the churrasco of other people outside the vila: provolone, picanha, and even filé, but those choice cuts and delightful morsels were no more than stories to him; fantasies; things that only the rich could afford; forever pipe dreams for him, but dream he still could, and dream he did. For Dionathon had dreamt that he would escape the bondage of his birth, as did many of his fellow villains, but his dream had been literal and he had total faith in it; more sure of the reality of this dream than he had ever been of anything else in his life; he just didn’t know when or how he could or would escape the vila, but escape he would; he was 100% certain of that.
The rest of the family gathered at the rough wooden table: his mãe and pai and his seventeen year old irmã, Veronika. Dionathon held mixed feelings about her. Maybe all brothers have mixed feelings about their sisters; maybe that’s just the way of siblings. Dionathon loved her; that much was true, she was his sister after all, but there was also a dark side to his feelings; he also felt pity and a deep resentful anger towards her. He could see what crack had done and was still doing to her, even if she couldn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge it; and his pais merely seemed to turn a blind eye to it; little did he know of the silent suffering they underwent over her. He knew that many of the people in the vilas smoked crack and, for him, it was little different to the way some people used cachaça, maconha and pó to escape from the wretched misery and poverty; to find some release; to forget their miserable plight, but crack was different, it not only destroys the mind, it destroys the body and soul too.
Veronika was so thin and emaciated that her face was cadaverous and her sharp bones protruded through her tight skin; she looked as if she had already died and someone had dug up her mortal remains and reanimated her; she also displayed as much joy as a corpse! But it wasn’t just the physical effects that bothered Dionathon, it was the psychological effects too; without doubt, these bothered him more so; she was just not the same fun-loving person he had known throughout his childhood. Even worse than that, she couldn’t be trusted anymore; he daren’t leave anything of any value around their room; not that he ever had much, but even the few coins he had managed to scrounge and save would always disappear. But even worse than that, he had heard what people were saying in the vila about her: she could be bought, and very cheaply at that. It was this that hurt and angered him the most; not only was she a ladra, a thief, but she was now also a puta bem barata, cheap whore, as well! She sold herself to anyone with a few reais or pedras of crack and had sold her soul to o Diabo for life into the bargain – no matter how short that may now be!
Divair, his mãe, asked him to say grace before their meal of arroz e feijão – rice and black beans – but he found it hard to be enthusiastic, mechanically mouthing the mantra that he had heard muttered every mealtime of his life. Once he had finished the prayer, everyone crossed themselves and helped themselves to the scanty offerings. As usual, his stomach growled for more when he had finished, but he had no alternative other than to resolutely ignore it and rein in the ravenous beast of hunger within, as he did every day.
With lunch finished, he announced that he was going to take the carroça out and collect the recyclables, as he did every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. As usual, his mãe and pai barely noticed; this was his job and had been for almost five years now; after all, he was 13 years old now; a man!
Duda, the chestnut mare, had been furtively chomping on the thin and short scrubby grass where she had been tied; her bony ribs clearly showing through her thin hide and various pressure sores were plainly visible where the harness and furniture had brutally dug into her delicate and gaunt flesh. In many ways Dionathon saw Duda in much the same light as he saw Veronika, but he had, if he was honest with himself, more love and sympathy for Duda; she was not responsible for her own condition! He lovingly ran his hand over her head and opened his hands to reveal some beans which he had secreted within from his meagre lunch. The mare spread her thick lips with an almost human smile, exposing her browning teeth and snaffled them down gratefully.
Dionathon, like so many other crianças his own age and younger, was required to work to support his family and, like so many others, this included helping to pay for the cachaça that his pai drank every night of the week, drinking himself into oblivion, washing away the despair that swept over him and would crush his soul if ever he allowed himself to contemplate it without the anaesthesia and, once the intoxicating power of the liquor freed this despair from the constraints of the cage that contained it, it was brutally manifested. And then, when the dust and angry words had subsided, his pai would collapse onto the rough cot next to his mulher, his faithful wife. Dionathon thought nothing of this; this was normal for him and normal for almost everybody he knew and he knew to stay well out of the way of his pai when he was like this, railing against the injustice of it all. He only wished that his pai didn’t get so nasty when he had had a few. But again, this was normal for him and his friends; they all complained about the same thing, it’s just that the pais of some of his amigos had the good judgement, or maybe it was merely the good luck, not to leave a reminder of where their fists, in desperation, had struck their esposas or crianças.
Dionathon fixed the horse to the carroça – the once elegant blue and white swirls of paint that patterned its wooden sides now dull, faded and peeling – and set off down the rua, hopeful that he would find something extraordinary and valuable in the lixo that day. In the back of his mind – well back in his mind, for this was something he daren’t think about – he was already rueing the day when he would not be able to make his rounds, as the local prefeitura had already announced that the carroça would be banned from the street; they were nothing more than a menace to the cars on the ruas and disrupted and slowed the traffic; but he still had until the end of this year before that ban would take place, but then what? The quaint, old fashioned symbol of the struggle of the desperate poor would forever vanish from the modern cityscape. Leaving what? He shuddered and dreaded to think of that and quickly pushed that thought even further to the back of his mind as he gave Duda a slap on the flanks and the horse pulled away.
As the iron shod beast clopped on the uneven cobbled surface of the rua, shortly after leaving the soft, muddy, clay road of the vila, he spotted o inglês. Dionathon liked o inglês, not just because he gave him money, occasionally, but because he treated him with respect, as a fellow human being, laughing and smiling and playing jokes on him, the antithesis of the other wealthy in the city. The Portuguese o inglês spoke was terrible; Dionathon understood that he had not been in Brasil long and accepted this, but took particular delight in the way his foreign tongue uttered familiar words in such an unfamiliar, awkward, alien fashion, enjoying the way o inglês tried to communicate with him nonetheless. O inglês was rich; he had to be; he was an estrangeiro and lived in an apartment, but it never occurred to Dionathon to ask for more than he received or even the nothing he sometimes got, instead accepting things with good grace!
“O inglês!” He shouted, when he spotted him; a huge smile lighting up his tawny face.
“Oi Dionathon, tudo bom?” – Hi Dionathon, everything ok? He replied, waving at him and coming over and patting the flanks of the chestnut mare before warmly shaking Dionathon by the hand.
“Amigo, to com fome; pode me ajudar?” – I am hungry my friend; can you help me? – he asked, his speech exaggeratedly slow and plaintive, his almost ebony eyes wide with an expectant, hopeful expression.
“Amigo, eu acho que tu ta sempre com fome,” – My friend, I think you are always hungry, o inglês said looking at him and a deep and heartfelt smile split his features, before he rummaged around in his pocket and fished out some coins.
His hand dragged out fifty centavos in mixed coins and handed them to Dionathon gladly who thanked him profusely and, spotting some of his amigos on the rua, invited them over to join him at the mercadinho.
This was one of the things o inglês loved most about helping Dionathon: he always included his friends in his windfalls. O inglês was curious to see what Dionathon would buy and studiously watched him and his group of friends. Without wishing to seem as though he was checking up on them, he followed them across the rua to the shop, with the pretext of buying some cigarettes, although he had almost a full packet in his pocket.
“Tenho cinquenta centavos comigo; quantas laranjas posso pegar com isso?” – I have fifty centavos with me, how many oranges can I get for this? – he asked expectantly as his small fingers clung onto the iron bars that protected both the shop and shopkeeper from ladrões who would surely be tempted by the wealth of goods in the small shop.
This was one of the first things that o inglês had noticed upon his arrival in Brasil – the steel cages everywhere, often surrounded by electric fences, protecting innumerous shops, bars and domestic dwellings from the evil without, but, he had often wondered, were they locking the ladrões and malandros out or simply locking themselves in, prisoners to their own fear?
The shopkeeper took a handful of laranjas umbigo – navel oranges – and weighed them, returning to the metallic grill covering the entire shop front and part of the roof too, where it was vulnerable.
“Pra te amigo, pode levar três,” – For you my friend, you can take three – he responded smiling at the menino, even though three would have cost seventy centavos, and Dionathon cheerfully nodded his acceptance of the offer. With his prize in hands, he handed two to his amigos and began to peel the one in his own hands; the sharp, sweet/acid smell of the skin perfuming the air. The only problem was that he had four amigos with him now and only three oranges. He pulled off two thirds of the orange he had peeled and handed the other third over to his amigos. The boys counted the segments seriously and methodically, carefully ascertaining that each would have an equal share and, after many recounts, until everyone agreed on the number, they were all happy.
O inglês noted this with satisfaction; the children he knew in his homeland would have behaved totally differently to this. They would have run to the closest sweet shop and bought a handful of sweets and, more than likely, not been as generous with their friends, instead keeping them all for themselves. But this wasn’t England, this was Brasil and everything was vastly different here, he reminded himself. But this behaviour fit with what he had observed during his global travels; be it the outback of Australia, the shanty towns of South Africa or even the Kampongs of Asia; the world over, there seemed to be a general rule: the less possessions the people had, the more generous they were with what little they did have. Perhaps the poor understood the true value of wealth; wealth doesn’t exist in the hands of a single person, instead it lay in the hands of the many, ready to be shared when times became tough for one individual or group of people. That was true wealth; an antidote to starvation!
He called Dionathon over.
“Oi amigo”, he said in a conspirational whisper, “tome isso também”, – take this as well – and handed him another fifty centavos, “mas mantém isso pra ti, ta bom?” – but, keep this for yourself, ok? – he added, winking at him and ruffling his hand through the tight, black curls of the menino.
Dionathon smiled and agreed readily, but o inglês noticed that he couldn’t restrain himself from whispering into the shell–like ears of his amigos, bringing a broader smile to their faces too, and they all assiduously ignored the gaze of o inglês, hoping and pretending he wouldn’t notice. Chuckling to himself, o inglês left the store front and Dionathon and his amigos to their own devices and sauntered off, forgetting completely about the cigarettes he had intended to buy.
Considering that it was now April – early autumn – unusually, it was oppressively hot. Normally, at this time of year, the sun was insipid, barely bringing any warmth at all to the city, but the winds were from the north and the arctic chill of the Minuano that would blow unimpeded across the vast, flat pampas was being held at bay. Dionathon hated this heat as he desperately sought some relief from the long Indian summer the city had been experiencing. He usually had no way to find relief from it, especially at night, when he sweltered under the tin roof of his shack as it reflected back its stored energy.
He had heard talk that the rich headed to the praia for the summer and hot weekends – this he could believe as the city became like a ghost town in the summer – and just idly relaxed on the golden sands and cooled themselves off in the cool turquoise ocean, not a care or worry in their hearts, but he could only picture that in his mind; in all his thirteen years, he had never seen the ocean, but he had seen pictures; instead, he would just have to comfort himself with the cool brown waters and the beira of the massive lake that lay to the west of the city – for surely that would be the closest he would ever get to the ocean.
It was said that the water was dirty, polluted with everything from sewage to industrial effluent, and Dionathon could not argue with this as it smelt awful. It was huge and refreshing nonetheless and had tiny waves that washed the shore, but, best of all, it brought welcome relief from the relentless heat. But Dionathon knew that the heat would be fleeting; already there had been nights that he had needed to pull his thin, holey blanket over himself to keep warm. Today, however, was hot, very hot, without a breath of air stirring the leaves that remained on the deciduous trees, let alone those hanging lifeless on the more numerous evergreens.
Winter, with its biting cold wind blasting across the plains, was coming and he felt in his bones that it would be exceptionally bitter this year, but for now he merely wanted to escape this fierce and oppressive heat. He knew that he would not be able to do so for many hours; there were many lixeiras to forage through, gleaning what little treasures he could from other people’s waste, before he could finally relax, but, if he timed things right, he would just make it to the massive lake before the sun set and the possibility of the chill of an autumnal night returning with the shadows, especially with the rain that looked likely.
As he made his way from lixeira to lixeira, street to street, the sky darkened ominously, filling with thick, roiling black, heavy, almost liquid looking pendulous mammatus clouds, reminding Dionathon of ‘as tetas’ – the tits – monument on the outskirts of the great lake, which, to him really looked like a mass collection of breasts with exquisitely long nipples, of which he was just beginning to fantasise about; although the monument was not really meant to represent tetas, intended instead to represent the traditional Gaúcha cuia – the gourd used by so many Gaúchos in their daily chimarrão ritual, from which they sipped the hot and bitter caffeinated erva mate beverage. The heavy and sultry clouds only served to further increase the oppressiveness of the day as the humidity built, combining fiercely with the stifling heat.
The huge uva japonesa brought a welcome smile to his face and a hungry rumble to his stomach as he eyed it standing, sentinel-like, over the final lixeira of his route. Dionathon could never understand why it was called uva japonesa, for the fruit neither looked nor tasted anything like the grapes he had, on more than one occasion, surreptitiously pilfered whilst out shopping with his mãe. The uva japonesa however was the strangest fruit imaginable, resembling a bunch of small, fat twigs writhing and twisting at right angles to each other, its skin the colour and texture of nashi pears and the fruit inside soft and deliciously sweet, reminiscent of a very sweet pear, but the skin adding a sharp, tannic after taste.
Dionathon only knew of the taste of pears because he had discovered a pereira in a long abandoned terreno, but unfortunately for him, the fruit had never stayed on the tree long enough to reach full maturity and approach the sweetness of the uva japonesa; he wasn’t the only menino to have discovered it, and he and none of the others seemed bothered by the endemic blight which affected it and so many other trees in the city!
Around the base of the tree, small bunches of the sweet and once succulent fruit had been trodden underfoot and Dionathon cursed those that could waste this delicious food. He optimistically scoured the calçada for any that were un-trampled, but his luck was out, they were all crushed and bruised beyond redemption. He lifted his large, round, dark eyes to the lowest branches to see if he could find a bunch within his reach, but the lowest bunch hung cruelly beyond his eager fingers. Gauging the distance between himself and the much sought after fruit, he concluded that he would need the aid of his trusty carroça.
He pulled Duda to the side of the rua; carefully positioning the carroça beneath the fruit laden branches, quietly and politely asked her to remain still while he performed this act and then eased himself into a standing position on the seat. He tentatively reached up to the nearest bunch and, just as his fingers were greedily wrapping around them, a speeding car screamed around the corner behind him, its horn blaring at him and the horse and carroça obstructing the rua. Duda’s eyes shot wide open in shock, her ears twitched furiously and pointed heavenwards then she streaked off in a blind panic.
Dionathon’s precarious footing gave way as the cart disappeared beneath him and he fell face forward, smashing his head painfully on the deck of the cart and then tumbled head over heels; the rotting timber framework at the back, eaten hollow by termites, unable to withstand the sudden shock, disintegrating as he crashed through it and fell painfully to the rua, first landing on his scrawny bunda before tumbling, excruciatingly, onto his face again.
He stared in painful, dumbstruck horror as he watched Duda galloping away at full pace, dragging the carroça behind her. Gingerly, he tried to get to his feet, but a wave of nausea and weakness washed over him and he thought better of it and remained lying on the rua until he could once again regain his senses.
After resting for a few moments, his head spinning less and less, suddenly conscious of his precarious prostrate position on the rua, cars pelting past him, passing perilously close, he unsteadily scrambled to his feet and assessed his injuries; his head hurt like hell and he could feel a huge galo on his forehead. His hand came away from the lump bloodied, at which he was not the least bit surprised, but fortunately there was not too much. His whole body was stiff and aching, marred by innumerous scrapes gently oozing blood, and he discovered he had worn some fresh holes in his threadbare clothing. Concluding that there was no major damage, except maybe to his pride, his mood now as black as the threatening sky above, he lumbered off after Duda.
Fortunately, she had not gone too far, maybe 500 metres, before hauling herself and the damaged cart over the kerb and onto a patch of lush, verdant grass. By the time Dionathon reached her, she was greedily chewing great mouthfuls of the luxuriant grama, seemingly none the worse for her scare.
He surveyed the damaged carroça, cursing loudly: “Caralho!!! Porra!!! Puta que pariu!!!!”
His pai was going to be furious with him. He had better see if he could find some timber to repair it on his way home, he thought, but knowing that any dressed timber he found would be as rotten and worm eaten as the shattered timber that still remained, he climbed back into the seat after giving Duda a friendly, reassuring rub on her neck. Fortunately for him and his bunda, the sacks of aluminium cans, PET bottles and other assorted valuable recyclables were still safely wedged onto the steel frame of the cart and his bamboo fishing pole had been left undamaged, he noted gladly, for he was even hungrier than before, his sweet treat cruelly denied him but, with any luck, he could snag himself a nice pintado, which he could then roast on the beira of the great lake, where numerous cooking fires had already previously been prepared.
The atmosphere was now even thicker and heavier, almost cloying; the roiling, fluid clouds hanging heavily in the sky, even darker and more threatening, the air still, pregnant and alive, charged with electricity, oppressively hot. Dionathon was eager to reach the lake, primarily to cool himself down, but secondly to rinse the crusting blood from his fresh wounds as he flicked Duda’s flanks and trundled towards it.
The air around the colossal lake was somewhat cooler, with a slight breeze blowing over its surface, but still not enough to ripple it as he pulled the carroça up onto the beira.
Dionathon spied some meninos he knew already playing boisterously in the deliciously cool water and he stood up in the carroça and called out to them. They were splashing around and obviously having so much fun, doing the sort of things children loved best behind a bright yellow sign. He had no idea what it said; the letters and words were so familiar to him after seeing them so often, but they were meaningless all the same; he couldn’t read. His time at school had been very sporadic, and since he had been obliged to collect the recyclables, there had never been a single thought of returning, even though he missed the companionship of his friends there.
“Oi caras,” he cried out, waving excitedly and impatiently at them. They just managed to hear him over the sound of their splashing in the water and gestured for him to come and join them. Dionathon hurriedly stripped down to his cuecas so he could do just that as quickly as possible; he was hot, grubby and sore as hell and the cool water looked so inviting.
The air was at that instant suddenly rent by an almighty explosion of electricity, heat, light and noise, but Dionathon was totally oblivious to this as he was blasted from the carroça, landing flat on his back some five or six metres away; his shoes landing even further away; a thin grey wisp of smoke coiling from the burnt ragged holes in the ends of them as they settled onto the sand at the edge of the lake like fallen guns after a savage gunfight
As the pressure wave from the blast expanded outwards, enveloping first the exotic frangipani tree to the left of the carroça, then the one on the right, it stripped the creamy, scented, yellow centred flowers from both. The air rushed back to fill the vacuum created by the blast wave, sucking the blossom in to fill the void, falling on and around the collapsed child and cart like exotic frenetic snow flakes.
Dionathon gawped at his friends, a puzzled frown creasing his features as he wondered what was wrong with them; they looked totally shocked and horrified about something as they raced out of the water as fast as their little legs could carry them. They were shouting and gesticulating wildly; obviously interested in something behind him. He turned to look behind himself to see what had so excited them and was somewhat surprised to discover that the carroça was below him, lying on its side, but he was not standing on it; in fact, he was totally unsupported, simply suspended in mid air!!!
Bamboozled and bewildered, he took stock of his surroundings and noticed a menino lying flat on his back, covered by a colourful cloak of petals, a smoky haze rising from his skin and clothing. This was really bizarre; how had he not noticed him before? But not only was there a boy lying on the ground next to the fallen cart, but Duda was also lying down, motionless enshrouded by blossom, as well. He had never once seen her lying down in his life!
As he studied the boy, he was struck by an overwhelming feeling of familiarity; but who on earth was he? He noticed that the boy, beneath his funereal mantle, was wearing similar clothes to him, but his dirty brown feet were bare. It then suddenly dawned on him that that boy was him!!! Was that how he appeared to other people?
He became confused, not quite knowing how to feel about this, finally deciding that an ambivalent indifference best summed up his feeling; it just didn’t seem to be too important to him.
“Oi Zé, Paulo,” he called out to two of the bigger boys when they had finally reached the carroça, their chests heaving, breath coming in short gasps, but they simply ignored him. What the…?
“Oi caras, tó aqui,” – hey guys, I’m here, – he cried louder, frustration creeping into his voice, but again they just simply ignored him. What the hell was going on?
He thought about moving towards them and the thought alone was enough for his wish to be fulfilled and he glided effortlessly in their direction. He tried to tap Zé on the shoulder, but his hand simply passed straight through him. Zé reacted to this nonetheless, straightening upright in an instant, a shiver running through him and his skin erupting in pele de galinha – goose bumps, and rotated his head around repeatedly, looking for what, he didn’t know, but it had felt as though someone had walked over his grave. His gaze passed straight through Dionathon as though he wasn’t there. Seeing nothing to account for this strange feeling, he shook his head and returned his attention to the body of his amigo on the sand.
Noticing his reaction, Dionathon’s cheeky nature was too strong to suppress, so he decided to have some fun with his friends who, by now, had all gathered around the boy and horse lying motionless on the beira. He started softly singing the happy songs that he had sung with his friends and family ever since he could remember, reflecting the light mood that had settled over him and danced in the air above and around his friends, occasionally swooping down and passing right through them. He laughed an impish, cheeky little laugh to himself as he watched them react, each in turn, as he did this, but he soon grew tired of this game and simply drifted away, bored by their lack of attention, leaving his friends to fuss over the other boy on the ground who was not really him anymore.
Surveying the rapidly darkening sky around him, the occasional flash of lightning illuminating the air above the city behind him as if caught in a massive photographer’s flash, he noticed, with a perverse sense of propriety, that the heavens above the lake had now become almost hellish looking as the last rays of the pôr do sol set the clouds ablaze and fire burned above and on the surface of the lago.
Never having been to any other city in his life, he was totally ignorant of the fact that his city had the most incredible sunsets in the whole world; unaware that the subtle interplay between the water of the largest lake in the southern hemisphere and the atmosphere was responsible for this phenomenon. This was nothing more than normal for him, but that still didn’t diminish his appreciation of the spectacle that had become almost as routine and regular as a metronome.
Dionathon was somewhat different to other meninos his own age; he had taken a very deep interest and pleasure in all that nature had to offer, from the humblest of insects to the incredibly powerful fury of a tempest and now he suddenly felt freer than at any other time in his life; free from the physical constraints of his mortal body, free from the pangs of hunger that had plagued him nearly every waking minute of his life, free from the bondage of the ever present pull of gravity, free of everything and he resolved to take full advantage of the new found freedom to soar and dive across the blazing surface of the lake, feeling truly alive for the first time in his life.
As he bathed in the spectacle surrounding him, his mind began to wander, wondering exactly what had happened and was happening now. He had no idea that the iron frame of the cart had sustained a direct hit from a lightning bolt, discharging over one terawatt of energy through the vehicle and, consequently through him and Duda as well. His spirit, and Duda’s too for that matter, had departed their earthly bodies at the very moment the gargantuan surge of power had raced through them and stopped their biological motors. But except for the sense of freedom coursing through him, he felt no different to the way he had felt when he had been imprisoned in that selfsame fragile shell; he still had the same thoughts and the same feelings.
Was this ‘him’, flying and swooping over the water, the true ‘him’ instead of that lifeless biological cage back there on the beira? Such a question had never crossed his teenage mind before, but if it ever had, he would have been unable to answer it and probably would not have cared one iota, but he thought about it now and also had the answer now: this ‘him’, detached from his corporeal self, was the real, true ‘him’.
His pais had often spoken of his soul, as had the pastor in his local church, but it had all seemed somewhat abstract to him, totally removed from any context that he could believe in or even associate with anything he knew. Now, at this moment in his “life”, it all made sense to him. This ‘him’, here and now, was his true essence; his true core being; his true soul!
He spent many delicious moments wheeling over the cool, darkening water, diving like one of the yellow bellied bem-te-vi, – a native flycatcher bird – who would occasionally break the surface, snatching up a wriggling fish in its beak, but one difference between it and he was that his hunger had finally abated; it was no longer important or even relevant. For the first time in his memory, he couldn’t feel hunger gnawing like an untamed, ravenous beast at his stomach; the thought of catching and roasting a pintado was so far removed from the thoughts that now occupied his mind. For that matter, nothing seemed to hold any importance at this moment in his “life”.
Watching the bem-te-vi flitting above the water and plunging beneath the surface gave him a bold idea. He climbed an immense distance upwards, not feeling the cooling air as he soared through the cloud layer then, turning himself around, he steeled himself for his return journey and dived straight down towards the ever darkening surface of the brown lake. He braced himself for the impact; his “body” rigid, waiting for the delicious coolness that would surely envelope him. His thoughts then became scrambled and confused as his vision blurred and darkness enshrouded him and he wondered what on earth had happened. Rising up again, his sight suddenly clearing, he realised that he had broken the surface of the water, and was now breaking it again, but had felt nothing! This was no fun, he thought. Had it been brighter and clearer under the water, he would have enjoyed exploring the underwater depths of the lake, searching for the sunken treasure he was sure must be buried somewhere beneath the surface, but as it was, it remained a hidden, murky, unknown landscape; his eyesight, apparently, not evenly slightly improved by the change in his circumstances.
At that moment, things unexpectedly became even more confusing. The sky and earth began to blur and together they slowly started to rotate, building up speed until there was nothing left beyond an omnipresent rotating blue vortex surrounding him. Inexorably, Dionathon felt himself being drawn, faster and faster towards the epicentre of this airborne eddy; totally powerless, helpless as he was sucked into its gaping belly.
There was an immense, incredible, awe-inspiring glowing light, at the very centre of the tunnel, brighter than anything he had ever seen or could ever even imagine in his entire thirteen years; it was like a hundred suns burning in the sky, yet it did not hurt his eyes to look, in fact, it was almost as if the blazing light wanted, nay demanded the attention of his vision. There was no fear as he was relentlessly drawn inwards, only positive expectation, although expectation of what, he didn’t know as he sped towards it.
His ascent slowed until he felt an overwhelming sensation of peace, love, tranquillity and supreme greatness settle over him as he approached the lustrous core of the spiral and he knew beyond a shadow of doubt that he was in the presence of God.
As if in answer to his unspoken thoughts, a warm, mellifluous voice filled his mind. It wasn’t masculine and it wasn’t feminine either and Dionathon would have found it almost impossible to describe the transcendental beauty of that sexless, inhuman voice; all he knew was that love poured forth from it and filled his entire being at the very sound, and he felt a hitherto unfamiliar serenity and joy in the very presence of this “being”.
“Meu Filho, todos os minutos, de cada dia, você está sempre na presença de Deus. Você esqueceu tão logo?” – My Son, every minute of every day, you are in the presence of God. Have you forgotten so soon?
Forgotten so soon? What did this mean? Forgotten what?
“Meu filho, não faz muito tempo que você estava abraçado comigo depois de sua última vida, mas claro que sua mente ainda é embaçada por sua encarnação terrestre,” – My son, it was not so long ago that you were as one with me after your last life, but of course, your mind is still clouded by your earthly incarnation.
“Mas não se preocupa, você se lembrará logo,” – But don’t worry, it will all come back soon enough, the voice continued in its soothing, androgynous tones.
With these words, Dionathon suddenly remembered that he wasn’t Dionathon, in fact he wasn’t Madalena, his previous incarnation either. For that matter he wasn’t even Captain Mark Johns of the British royal dragoons, his incarnation prior to that one either, or any one of the hundreds of his other previous incarnations, both male and female, which he had inhabited and was only now becoming aware of; he just was and always had been!
“Ai, eu vejo que está começando a voltar,” – Ah, I see it is starting to come back, the voice continued warmly, “mas você já se lembra de seu propósito último?” – but do you remember your ultimate purpose yet?
But Dionathon, Madalena, Mark, he, she, it, couldn’t quite remember this, no matter how hard she tried to wrestle with this question; it seemed to be dangling in front of his face, taunting and teasing herm.
“Tenha paciência, meu pequeninho; você vai, você vai,” – Have patience my little one; you will, you will.
The soul that humbly “stood” before the ultimate creator had no doubt of this and wasn’t even slightly concerned about it; it knew that everything was/is/will be exactly as it should.
“Você sabe por que hoje eu o trouxe aqui?” – Do you know why I brought you here today? The voice asked and a broad, loving smile could almost be heard behind the question.
Now this seemed to be a question which the soul that was once Dionathon did know the answer to.
“Porque eu me esqueci de meu último propósito,” – Because I forgot my ultimate purpose! It was a statement, not a question and was stated with the full authority of absolute truth.
“Exatamente, meu filho,” – Exactly, my son, the compassionate voice responded warmly, tenderly, lovingly. “Mas você se lembrará, você está se lembrando, não é?” – But you will remember; you are remembering, no? The voice continued.
And it was true; the soul that was once Dionathon, once Madalena, once Captain Mark, once a thousand others, was remembering and he gave herself a metaphorical kick in his metaphorical bunda for being so forgetful, so stupid. In the divine presence of God, the soul at last remembered that it itself was God. Its soul/sole purpose was to be conscious of this one fact, and to bring each and every soul that it came into contact with back to the memory that it too was God, the ultimate creator, whose very actions created the present and the future, in fact created the entire universe.
Each and every action, of each and every God soul, has an impact on every single thing that follows; it is ultimately responsible for every tiny little thing that happens as a result of its very actions, words and thoughts. There is no good, no bad – these are merely human constructs – only consequences which may be perceived as either good or bad depending on your perspective.
The divine purpose of Dionathon, that one soul, was to reunite God; to bring every single aspect of God back to that one realisation, that one understanding that it was God. How could it possibly have forgotten such a monumentally important task as this?
The loving energy that was God beamed with an air of almost self satisfaction and the glow of divinity winked out of existence before the soul that was once Dionathon and was now once again God.
So, what is Bizarre Bites of Brazil? In a nutshell, Bizarre Bites of Brazil is a veritable smorgasbord of bite sized tales of Brazil which offers a taste of the diverse cultural and social flavour that this enormous country has to offer, seasoned with a touch of the unusual and bizarre.
Before arriving in Brazil, I knew little of its rich and complex society. Of course I had seen images of the indulgent hedonistic carnaval, with its delicious, scantily clad coffee coloured women and exotic colourful costumes; I knew that girls wore dental floss bikinis, highlighting their golden peaches, and cavorted on the golden beaches; I had seen a documentary about the Police of Rio de Janeiro and their war against the drug traficantes and human life appeared to have little or no worth; from what I’d seen, football was placed on an equal if not superior footing with religion; and I was aware that there had been a military dictatorship in the not too distant past, but beyond that I had little knowledge.
Whilst these tales and the characters that populate them are purely fictional, there is a kernel of truth in many of them and I have tried to mirror Brazilian society as viewed through the eyes of a foreigner brought up on a different cultural diet, but who now feasts from the same table as the local inhabitants.
I think here is an appropriate place to thank those who have helped correct my terrible Portuguese. Jean Marie Désir and Dani Rocha, I am truly indebted for your assistance and friendship. Abraços e beijos para vocês!
I haven’t yet figured out how to display these in the reverse order of posting, but I strongly urge you to read them in the numbered order.
After speaking to a few people, they mentioned they had trouble navigating this site. If you go to the top of this page you will find a navigation bar on the right hand side that displays the numbered tales.
And so we now come to the first instalment from Bizarre Bites of Brazil. If you enjoy reading these twisted tales please leave a comment or a rating and please pass it on to your friends to share.
Just a little addendum.
If people find this post through the tags I have used, I just want to say that the tags relate to the entire collection, many of the tales still only written in my head, not on this page.
A commentator asked when I will update and I hope to update at least once a month, but it is tough because Rio has given me so much inspiration that I can’t keep up with my brain and work is consuming a great deal of my time and energy. If you subscribe, you’ll be notified of updates, so please subscribe and please, please comment, even if to criticise!!!!