And now, the second episode of “About a Little Black Country Girl”, an esterical minisseries in five parts.
In the Middle of Nowhere – I spent last week on my parents’ farm, in a rough and arid countryside where neither asphalt or telephone (fixed or mobile) can reach, and where electricity only arrived about two or three years ago. Every time we go we take a pick-up truck full of things to give away, not because we’re terribly rich, but because our extended family, having all come from this region, remember how scarce things are over there. Every single shirt their children outgrow, or toy their children have abandoned, is cherished there like a treasure. This is a place where, as Luiz Gonzaga says, if you ride a mule you’re rich, if you´re poor you go on foot. I don´t want to brag, but my family ride on mules.
The Crib – To give you an idea of the situation, this time, in addition to the assortment of clothes and toys from my aunts, we also brought a crib, that my baby cousin, now at the age of 4, no longer needs. My mom carefully separated the bounty among 6 families, and then the two of us drove around the community to distribute the lots.
The crib fell to a woman who had just had twins. We arrived late in the afternoon in her little hut, half of which was the main room, kitchen and living room at the same time, and the other half were two or three small bedrooms. The walls were made of clay, and the floor, just the unpaved earth.
The eldest child, a boy of 15, was not home. At school? No, the mom had just found a place where he could earn $5 a day helping with the harvest, and told him to skip school and work there instead.
Seeing the woman alone with the babies and the other children, very soon my mom and I realised that it was not enough to leave the parts of the crib there for them to assemble. They wouldn’t know what a crib was, they didn’t even have a bed. If she and I did not put it together, it would just sit there, or, at best, be used to improve the housing condition of the chickens.
I felt to assembling the crib with the excitement of a jigsaw puzzle addict. Rolling up my sleeves, I asked for the tools for the operation. Could you get me a screwdriver? They didn´t have one. A knife then? Didn´t have one either. Got a rusty swiss knife, to assemble a full size crib. I sat on the unpaved red earth and started putting together this crib with this swiss-knife-key- ring-thing which happened to have a foldable blade smaller than my pinky. I felt like McGyver himself.
The crib was too big to go through the doors when assembled, so we had to put it together in the kitchen, its final location. Sunset came, and there was no light. The bulb was gone, and there was no money for a new one. Besides, there was no ladder or anything that reached the ceiling where the lamp was. I asked her to turn on all the other two lights in the property, one in the veranda and other in the bedroom light – that was as bright as it got.
After much insisting, she brought be an old rusty dagger without tip or handle, and that was how the crib was assembled, by far the most elegant piece of furniture in the house. We drove home then in the pitch black night, with many thanks and three chickens as token of gratitude.
Tune in tomorrow for the third episode of this minisseries!