To my family
Listening to the national language at the entrance of the airport, cars following like mules an unknown direction, I arrive somewhat lost. What are you doing around here? The driver asks me when he finds out that I come from another country. Here is my home too, I say, without confessing my constant search for references and identifications of belonging.
On the way, a scent of my childhood, mint in my great-grandmother’s yard, the one that prayed non-stop. I try to undo the rosary knot from my fingers, the prayers crossed in my throat, a fear of her hurried steps. Someone shouts macumba, watch for the crossroads, throw a plate of coarse salt on the asphalt. The town where I used to live, there were lots of cross streets and I avoided them, but also the words full of mercy and sin.
As I pass through a corner market, I remember my mother pulling me by the hand, taking me away from the television – in a time when there was no cell phone – but Disney’s cartoons and woodpecker. And I having to do the grocery shopping with her, which prepared me for life, today I know, buying chicken in the São Mateus neighborhood. At once, they would break its neck, killing the bird, and spreading its blood everywhere.
How horrible, I say out loud, without realizing it. But the driver doesn’t notice me, he’s kind of talking to himself, back and forth screaming, outraged, what’s happened to this country? I get nervous, I want to help, but I don’t know what to say. I have no answers either, only other, multiple issues, he won’t even want to know. I remember a French song where the singer sings “my country is my life” and that statement is calming, grounding.
In my suitcase, I bring several gifts for my nephews, but also little bits of memory, things that they don’t know about their grandmother, my mother, who left me many diamonds, but also sweet memories, which I keep in my heart. Secretly, I know a map has been imprinted in my blood, teaching me how to conquer and survive this land, from where I inherited so much gold.
Put the Brazil-Wood in that place, someone shouts from the stands, and I realize I’m already inside the Minhocão, it’s hard to believe this is a tunnel and not an armadillo track. That’s okay, we must be in Minas Gerais. Why did you trade us for the English? The young man behind the steering wheel wants to know.
At the question, I turn red, half guilty for being terrified before disorganized objects, an inheritance from my father’s Germanic family. Yet I try to go along with his inquiry, excited at the prospect of being a national again, shouting yes, we need to defend the Portuguese language, my voice high emotional and nervous, carrying a dated extremism, fora de moda, like cheering for the World Cup after the Brazilian defeat against Germany, does the samba still exist?
Then I realize I no longer need to pray all the time or sing the national anthem in the courtyard of the Academy, the school where I studied, the marks of time clung to my skin, even if I can’t exactly remember where my country is, always searching for the sea. Visit Often! The driver says and I’m already at my front door, awakened from my journey.
Stepping out of the taxi relieved, I decide all this intensity must be caused by heat, and I exit the car leaving behind all the change and unanswered questions.