In the city I heard the sounds of women chanting in sidewalk churches. There were sparks of sunlight reflecting on spotless Sunday attire, flickering over the dirty street. Echoes from puddles of water stained with oil and salt, sitting like guard dogs at the entrance of old apartment buildings. There were windows too, and doors and balconies, or what once were windows, doors and balconies, concealed by drying clothes that almost wanted to make the structures sail away into oblivion. But they struggled, they couldn’t.
What remained were quiet streets lined with trees and small signs with big names like Lumumba or Ho Chih-Minh, that made the word anticolonial something less foreign, less old. And statues sleeping under old newspapers, wooden crutches, pictures of fists, blurry words, crumbling neon and glossy eyes behind thick glasses that told me there was no way for me to ever see what they had seen.
Beira, March 3
Overlooking the ocean like an aging body on a death bed, shadows danced over the corpses of their glories. Desires roamed like ghosts. And the smell was of rancid sex.
Maputo, May 5
At the edge of the beach rose a new electric fence. Beyond it, mountains of rubble and styrofoam. And old suitcases. This is where they left their crates with tables and chairs and vases, the Portuguese, and behind them the soldiers, the militias, and then the workers and the many that ran and whose memory time has claimed for itself, for its own selfish self.
Homoine, September 15
There was heat that smelled of bread and dead fish. A cloud of red dust covered everything as he rode in on his motorbike, sweaty, big bellied and arrogant. His Frelimo t-shirt torn under the armpit. Loudly he improvised a speech about politics, old power and skin color. Of the transformations of destrution into political victories. Political victories as residues of war, or rather war become a victory that nourishes the Party.
But all that was left was a hint of alcohol and a rounded mass of his spit marking the ground, and all the memories beneath it.
I wondered what the word ruin really means here.
EN 6 Highway, June 5
As we drove I thought of how they stand alone, so many baobabs and carcasses sitting on the side of the road.
And all along I heard her words. The war, she had said, was a long time ago. So why worry now?
But she did not ask me to imagine the end of the devastation, the leftovers of many years of war sitting quietly under the sun.