Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Chapter 9 - Bonfire


Sometimes, when the day is really hot, the rain evaporates before touching the ground. Somewhere on its way from the clouds to the earth, it sizzles into nothing. That's how Kima felt, running out of the house. She felt like she would evaporate before reaching the river. She ran, fast, hard, tears streaming down her cheeks; her eyes the puffy dark clouds they came from. She slid on the trail that went down to the riverbank, got up and kept running downhill. When she reached the river, she knelt next to it and cried silently.

Under the canopy of the trees that leaned over the river, her hand touched the water. Softly, gently. It floated. The leaves in the branches above, the stars, the river, her hand, they all floated. She breathed deeply. She felt she was flowing, expanding, and in that expansion everything was linked. In that moment, everything was pulsing together, together in the night and the darkness.

She realised it was very late when she started shivering. The moon was out and the temperature had dropped. She got up and started to make her way back to the senzala. The cool night breeze touched her wet legs and her arms, and she had goosebumps. The grass was soft and cool under her feet.

On her way up the small slope that lead to the green behind the senzala, she heard a rhythmic buzzing. A metallic beat, drifting down mixed with smoke and a strange oaky smell. She kept climbing the hill, and when she was high enough she saw a man, sitting by a bonfire, holding a long instrument she had never seen before. It was a wooden bow, with a steel string tightly strung to it, with a dry, hollow gourd at the bottom end. The man was dressed in bright reds and yellows, he held the gourd against his stomach, and he played it striking the string with a stick. In the same hand with which he held the stick, he held a small rattle and made it sound every now and then. Kima walked closer to the fire and then stood, looking at him, her eyes reflecting the flickers of the flames, her shoes in her hand and her wet feet in the grass. The heavy smoke made her throat itch.

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