Saturday, April 14, 2007

Last Day in Angola

Why would I want to leave behind a view like this?

Even Pandora knows what it’s worth…

And its price is too high.

I can’t exactly remember why we are leaving. All that decision-making seems like a long time ago now. I know it has to do with not fitting, and not being able to claim this as home: it is not our home.

Once it was the home of a large colony of Portuguese people: spreading out, threading through this land, rooting saplings that sprouted trees – born here, raised here – but their branches had trouble sharing the air: instead of twining and combining, they clashed like antlers. New trees can be uprooted. Old trees can be sawn down. The houses are either empty, blown apart by civil war, or re-inhabited by the people with deeper roots: although civil war proved that even these are not beyond ripping up and tearing apart. The pavements are heavily cracked. Angolan mud disturbs the order of Portuguese tree-lined streets. Ghosts of every colour roam the streets and visit the houses they built, lived in once, but never possessed.

We don’t even have roots. We stood on the boulders and built a house… that began sliding as soon as it rained.

Our first home in Wako-Kungo was crisp and clean and hopeful. It was only warm when the sun melted through the windows. But it became overcrowded and packed with various tensions.

Our second (and final) home chattered with stories we couldn’t hear. I was furious when the construction workers were told to paint over the mural in the large dining room. The salon area upstairs had a spectacular view over the Kwanza-Sul valley: winds blew the blue curtains into the hallway; blowing the view – touches of trees and water – through the hotel and out the other side. We were no obstacle.

Our third home – on the edge of the woods – was haunted. There had been fighting in the woods: there are still some landmines, like a deadly matrix, matted into the soil: a forest of trees so thin and tall, the place where the branches began could only be seen by tipping your head right back. At night the only sound was the creak of tree-trunks pressured by winds, and the sporadic crash of falling leaves and branches onto the tin roof. When the strange smells crept out of the fireplace as night fell, and the worms crawled up from the tiled floors; when the big, wide-eyed, black-and-white dog from the opposite house appeared silently at our open front-door and stared at me; when Hal became sullen and silently hostile; I knew something was going to happen. The spirits of the tall trees grew flesh and visited our home with knives and guns, robbed us of our confidence, and killed themselves when they tried to escape the woods. We left the same night.

All the goodbyes were painful, but it was Bany’s who’s was the most shocking. He took my breath away. I’m still wondering if I’ll ever to get it back.

Turbo Tagger


NhaLuany said...

I must say that reading this was very disturbing to me. Maybe because I allways think of us (angolans)as fairly welcoming people... or maybe because my english is so bad that I didn't really get the real meaning of what you wrote...

jennifletzet said...
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