sábado, 2 de febrero de 2008

Candle light


It was raining outside. Kima could see the fat drops bursting on the window. The fields were empty, now that the horses where in their pens to spend the night. She sat on the kitchen’s chair. She was used to spending a lot of her time there, the other room was full and loud, and ma Ayé had been clear about the fact that she was only borrowing space with them. She had already been turned away from two huts when she came knocking on her door.

‘Alright,’ ma Ayé had said as soon as she finished asking. ‘You can take a small corner in the room. But let’s be clear about two things. I am not your mother, and I don’t need to feed you. What food you bring to the table, you can eat. And don’t start taking more room than your corner. My children belong here and they always come first. Now don’t look so sullen, girl, make the most of it. It’s not my fault that your da decided to die on that ship.’ She had made it sound as if her da had chosen to die, as if it had been his fault. The fact of the matter was that he had been ill even before they were chained on the ship’s lower deck. The journey in the closed space, with all that coughing and so little to eat, that had killed him. ‘Orphans don’t survive long here.’ Manu, the smallest son of ma Ayé had told her, pursing his small mouth, trying to look serious.

Outside the clouds where long and heavy, a fibrous Kapok tree the only contrast against a grey sky. That day she had gone to work in the plantation. Her hands were covered in blisters from chopping sugar cane. But she didn’t care. So what if orphans didn’t survive long. This place was as empty as the ship had been crowded. There were all these people, but she felt far away from them, as if they were out of focus. Morning was the same as evening. She hadn’t joined in any of the singing either, when they had started clapping a rhythm on the side of the wagon on the way to the fields. She hadn’t felt like it. She pressed her fingertips against the window, following the path the rain made as it streaked down. The sun had gone below the horizon but she didn’t light a candle.

Once all colour went out of the world, the alebrije came to the window: Skinny red legs, body of a butterfly, dragon wings, chicken feet, and the face something between a horse and a snake. Of course its wings were green, with red dots, its body blue and yellow, a shower of colour expanding out from its silver middle. It was about the size of her hand. She opened the window enough to let it through. It stood on the kitchen table and splashed her as it shook the rain off.

-‘Where do you come from?’ she asked. The alebrije peered at her from the tiny specks of black that were its eyes.
-‘An egg.’ It shifted its weight to one foot and flapped its wings. Kima got the impression that it wouldn’t be extremely talkative, but it felt nice to be distracted. She watched it as it made itself comfortable, lying on its belly and letting its wings flop loosely at its sides. Kima thought it was smiling. She looked beyond, the grass outside was a grainy grey and the Kapok’s leaves were pausing, waiting for some resolution. She looked back. The alebrije still stared at her.
-‘What?’ She said.
-‘That is a very good question,’ it replied, and rested its long face sideways. It made a strange clicking noise. It kept her eyes fixed on her. Kima noticed something was drawn on its forehead. Was it writing?
-‘What’s that?’ She asked, pointing, almost poking the creature with her finger. It pulled back, tensed up. Then it relaxed again and yawned.
-‘That,’ it said with a whisper, ‘is not such a nice question.’

There was a creaking sound, and light spread through the kitchen as ma Ayé looked in, a candle in her hands. ‘What are you doing awake, girl? If you don’t rest you won’t last a week. Get to sleep. Now.’ The door closed behind her and the candle light ebbed back out of the room. Kima turned her head quickly, but all she saw was the slender, worm-like back of alebrije as it squeezed out through the open window, its yellow spots like bright freckles. It left, and it was then that it got really dark, as if she were inside a box and the lid had closed above her.

2 comentarios:

Alina dijo...

Nada qué criticar, me encanta :) Quiero leer el siguiente capítulo YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Nittai dijo...

Gracias! Eso es una gran motivación. Escribamos el siguiente capítulo :)