The woman standing near the door looked for a distant point on the horizon. The hot afternoon makes everybody feels strange. In the near cradle, a baby girl was sleeping. The woman turned to the baby inside and thought about what the future was keeping for her. Probably the same. House duties, unwanted sex, and children. Outside those borders, the one, the woman’s husband, had built for her. The city moves fast, people wanted better lives, more peace and less indifference walking from here to there as what they were searching was one gasp of lucky.
The woman entered the kitchen. The baby had awaked, crying for some attention. “No, you have to learn to be alone.” That was the woman mantra, we are all alone in our chains and despairs, no one come to help, dry the tears or cure the pain. Maria was a woman who decided to teach her daughter to be alone, fight alone, and live without the necessity of love. The girl stopped crying. It was a kind of understanding the two females built in that exact instant. The child and the adult, both not knowing where they are heading.
The dream was vivid as it was happening now. My mind agitated with the memory I even knew was there. My mother perfume impregnated my olfactive cells, the vision of her young face, one that still keeping hope something would happen to change the future was there. That woman, who was a force on my life, not always for good, had worked hard to make a lonely person since I was an inoffensive and a helpless baby. The printed flowered skits, the white blouse and the simple flip-flops on her feet said to me how unhappy she was. There isn’t pleasure on her eyes, either love, just a resignation mixed with angry. My mother was a woman full of dreams, had seen one after another, sinking in the name of duties and expectations, she has hidden behind a posture of righteousness and devotion to God.
Why was I dreaming with my mother? She was dead for almost fifty years. And why those memories? Memories I hadn’t lived but observed from the cradle or the pushcart where I spend most part of my two first years. Had I any regret about how my mother and I related after becoming an adult? Was I thinking about concerning the relationship I had with my only child?
The scenery changed. I was now in a small flat over a grocery store. My father chose the place because of its proximity to my grandmother home. “She can help you, Maria?” Could she? Aline, my grandmother, was a strange woman. Her strangeness was linked to the fact she was the second wife, as always occurs on this situation, gossips and comments made on her back fuelled the theory my grandfather had killed his first wife, and Aline had taken her place. Even my father had doubts about who was his real mother.
Jose, my father was a man of few words and many angry. I always thought about him as a bully who was not courageous enough to bully others apart from his family. That day he was working in the field. He has abandoned school in the middle school but learned topography by himself and now worked to a public water company. Most of the days he was in the field, as my mother told us, working with engineers to build water and sewer system to help modernise the city where we lived.
It was a cold morning in March of 1964. I was two years old. My mother, as usual, was listening to the radio. Suddenly the news broke the music accords. The president Joao Goulart democratically elected in 1961 was deposed by the military. Fear, I saw fear on my mother eyes. We have no telephone in our house, nobody was on the streets. The neighbourhood where we lived was silent the children on the next door who always played football on the backyard was absent. The children from the shantytown on the other side of the street we lived were silent. The nationalism and authoritarianism had won. The country I live in was officially a military dictatorship.
That night, my father came home, had dinner, seat in front of the television and watched the same soap opera and the news he always watched. Nothing had happened in his world. A nobody was a nobody, he said. He has no idealism, no preoccupation with the future of the country. If he had a job and money to keep him protected and fed, that was enough. Politics never was part of my family conversations. Not until I was an adult.
I grew up under the military government. As a middle-class girl, nothing had changed in my life. I went to school, read my books, watch television and eventually played with my sister. Our house was big enough, clean enough, well-stocked to give us peace of mind and live without noticing the atrocities the government was making in our name.
I am here now, facing my oblivion about what happened when I was growing up. The military in Brazil was smashing under their boots any opposition. Torture was something trivial, normal. The people had few concerns about what happened in the belly of one most terrifying place, the DOI/CODI or Centro de Operação de Defesa Interna (Homeland Défense Operational Centre or something like that). There, many men and women were torture, some to death, to clean the country of the communist influence. It was the military which spread information about how dangerous Cuba would be, and the communists could be. Creating a national disgusting to the Caribbean island.
The US, on the other hand, supported most of the South American dictatorship, sending specialists to teach torture as a method to obtain information. I only could understand what happened to my classmate Angela and her family when I was about thirty. After our lunch, Angela was called to the headteacher office one day. She returned without a word, packed her stuff, and never came to school. We asked the teacher about her many and many times. The answer was, she moved to another city.
When I was thirty and worked to the government, I crossed with a document explaining what had happened to Angela. My school friend was the daughter of one most unapologetic critics of the military regime. Angela’s father worked in a newspaper journalist and made every effort to jump the censorship and publish the truth about what was happening with people. That day, in a cold winter in Sao Bernardo, her father had been imprisoned under the accusation of treason. The paper point he worked to the Russian communist government, have been trying to create a revolution against the Brazilian government. The family, scared, heard their lawyer suggestion and flew from Brazil to the US and from there to Europe. Angela’s father never returned to his family. Until today, nobody knows where he was buried.
It was real. I remember my surprise, shame, and mixed feelings about how that could happen under my eyes, and I never see it. It was like what happened in the US in the second decade of the twenty-first century. Someone, calling himself patriot, come and promised clean the county from all the nightmares people have. Do they fear immigrants? We will clean the country form them. Do you feel Jews? Ok, we can clean the land from them. Black people, Asians, are they your concern? We will make their lives worse. He never said it was behind all these promises were a catch. The man wanted to be the dictator, the only one to create and punish, the one with all answers to all fears, prejudices and problems. The one president would enrich the wealthy at the cost of others’ lives. He almost gets there. The pandemic comes to show that the people wasn’t his concern. The people were a pawn in a game for money and power.
My mind wasn’t awake, I was sure about that. I was physically there, in a stasis, death to the world and myself. But the dreams come in a strip of time, making me revive even moments I wasn’t present to remember. “Don’t feel confuse.” A voice spoke inside my head. “Your dream is normal.” Normal? How could I remember my mother’s clothes when I was 1 year old? Or how could I still remember my friend Angela? Why, suddenly, my brain decided to revive the Brazilian military dictatorship and the Tramp era in the White House?
“You should stop questioning and learning from your dreams.” Learn. Humanity was a slow learner, that was why I was here now.