Sergio L. Parreiras was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and immigrated to the United States in the late 80´s. He has worked as a social activist and advocate for Brazilian immigrants in Florida. He now lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where he completed a master degree in Latin American Studies at Stockholm University – writing about the implementation of the Maria da Penha Law in the Belo Horizonte-Contagem area. The text is the result of writing seminar in which he participated at the English Department at Stockholm University.
Serenity, peace came to me when we arrived at this lake. Such a journey to get here! We left home sometime ago where the wind was strong, cold and arrived to this land in search of an exotic animal that many claim that do not exist. Perhaps, it is just a folktale, an invention to attract tourists, or people like me. That for different reasons left the old continent and embraced this journey to find something, either an exotic animal or myself. I always felt that something was missing; perhaps, the part that has a soul, a spirit. That side of me immune to the impositions of consumption; able to notice beauty and pleasure on the little things.
We traveled through many dusty roads since we arrived on the land of Angola and little by little we came in contact with the wounds of war; damaged buildings without color, light, or façade. They are just buildings; explosions of memories, of tears and despair. I wonder about the children and the people that lived in those buildings. Not so far from such sad revelation of man’s cruelty and hard hearts, we also noticed the poor, fenceless cemetery. Shouting at us through this powerful sound of silence, we are dead. We are free. Move on; and we did.
We walked away feeling tired, emotional, but yet we could see the sun shining ahead. Therefore, it was important to carry on with our task, our journey, to take advantage of the light and be aware of clues, signals that could lead to the capture of a palanca. We walked about a kilometer and we could see an old destroyed military tank abandoned on the field and green vegetation growing over its dead body of metal. We kept on walking and a little further down the road; to our left stood the little church and its enormous blue doors and above it, cemented on the edge of the building, a big wooden cross. As we continued walking and came closer to the church we could observe an impressive shadow cross lying on the road—a projection of the cross on the top of the little church. I was touched, such poesy! Coincidently, as I walked over the shadow of the cross lying on the dusty ground, a breeze started blowing and embraced my body making me feel for a second that I was flying. Suddenly, I felt some kind of relief, I became lighter. I said nothing and I just kept walking.
If I think about it, which I did not at that time, it felt like I was in some kind of trance. And I do not know the duration of this transformation, but I remember coming to my senses when I heard children’s voices. Along the road, they appeared smiling and staring at us with their black intense eyes. There was a mystical aura, innocence, and curiosity in those eyes that captivated me. They spoke to me; they comforted me. I felt safe and inspired. We came to the end of the road and to our left I could see the village made of mud and straw, more children, a meatless dog, and the face of a beautiful black woman looking at us from her window. She seemed to be in peace; her face was neither sad nor happy.
Once again, the breeze began to blow bringing to me the sound of voices, splashed water, and laughter. I was immediately attracted to this magical melody and naturally walked forward and arrived at a lake—magical and serene. I felt peace and beauty watching the many women with their colorful dresses, washing clothing and talking. Young children were jumping, swimming, and smiling. Down the lake, not so far from the other shore, fishermen and their wood canoes were involved in choreographed movements full of rhythm, patience, and precision to catch fish. At that moment, I could not do anything else but to stand there and admire such a stunning image, a lovely live painting. Strangely, I had an instantaneous connection to this real life scene and emotions echoed in my heart, liberating my soul. I had arrived to the place, my place, where the present moment contains all the real passions and beauties.
Such a fool I was! I had not noticed it before. But since I started in this journey; I was able to really see true suffering, pain. I had no reason to complain about my life on the old continent. At the same time, I was touched by the destruction caused by greedy hearts and the resilience and grace of those that encounter such an evil; the sons and daughters of Angola. Here, in this lake, they gracefully showed me beauty.