because people speak English
This time I would like to tell a short episode In my turbulent life. But before I start unrolling my thread, I would like to lay out the scenario my tale is set in.
At that time my father was working for a Canadian firm “Light & Power” which did business in constructing hydro-electric dams in Brazil. My Dad was employed as a geodesist measuring the height spots along a river for the construction of a future hydro-electric dam. A work group or land surveying team broke camp at a best chosen place and carried out their measurements from there.
The camp usually stood by the river in the backwoods and was composed of 8 to 10 big tents, a kitchen usually with walls make from bamboo with a canvas roof and a mess room built as the kitchen. I shall not waste time describing the localization and construction details of the toilets.
All my summer vocations I used to spend in those camps. That year my Mom had some trouble with her health and was undergoing complicated treatment which demanded a longer stay in hospital from time to time. To make things easier for her, Dad decided that he would find me a room and boarding in a town close to the camp, where I could be fed and cared for and would also be able to attend school. The town was called Santa Branca and I was given shelter in the local parish. On Fridays, straight form school, I used to march to the camp some 7km away and return on Sunday afternoon.
Came Friday, and off I set to my Dad’s camp, wondering what was for dinner that day. The dirt beaten and dusty road to the camp meandered in a hilly country side through groves on hillocks, crofts in shaded dales with bamboo bosks , through sparsely scattered thorps, it vanished over grassy hummocks to appeared on the next crest covered with hurst of thorny bushes, crossed brooks murmuring their way through cool coppices of trees laden with aromatic blossom…[What was that, ya Med…them words not found in google…nah, pal… ..not the creation of my imagination, they’re pure English words, lol ]
The day was pretty hot with clear skies and I was getting hungry, not wanting to miss my dinner at the camp, I hastened my pace. I took a look around to find out how far I was from the camp. From the bottom of the dale I found myself I could see a wide, slowly flowing river, here the Paraiba river spilled itself wide on a flat valley among many hillocks, from which I deduced that it would be a question of a half an hour’s walk to hit camp so I started climbing the hill with high hopes for a savory dinner.
Approaching the summit of the hill I felt the heat of the setting sun full on my face and as I reached the top, I caught the view of something that made an 11-year-old kid stop dead on his tracks. Not more than 30 meters down, on a termite hill, sat a big cat, locally called onca, [read – onsa] or a jaguar. Its silhouette was clearly outlined in the reddish hue of the dying day. [yeah, I was dying too] The beast sat there, majestic in its unruffled pose looking at the setting sun slowly sink over the hill tops only the tip of its tail twitched like an earthworm on a fishing hook, . [uhu..my heart also sank with a thud]
Although my legs suddenly went jelly, something inside me told me to keep going as if nothing had happened, [sure, nothing…..only a wild cat waiting for its dinner] painfully I forced my legs to keep on moving. From many heard and read tales, I knew that I should not, under no circumstances, look the beast in the eyes. Being scared to death as I was, I could not refrain myself from looking at that magnificent creature. One part of its body was hidden in its shade, the other, exposed to the warmth of the sunset, was clearly visible. Wow…those fantastic spots on the silky fur covering strong, sleek muscles. The ears turned once this way, another time another way, just like radars, yet the proud head remained motionless as if to show off those splendid whiskers. Bet them radars caught my presence and my days were counted, I thought to myself and wondered whether I’ll make camp on time for dinner or…. be dinner. My whole entity desperately desired to be far away and as quickly as possible, but time seemed to have frozen…although I succeeded in maintaining my pace…I felt as if I was moving at a sluggish rate. Frightened as I was, I felt an insuppressible desire to look at that grandiose creature.
As I was passing by that marvelous cat, it turned its head and looked at me. My already throbbing heart missed a beat and the whole world around me went silent. As our eyes met, I whispered – Por favor, bonita, deixa me passer – please, pretty one, let me pass] . The radars homed on me, the whiskers bristled and the yellow eyes slammed on my wide open and terrified dark brown eyes…and all the blood form my head freaked off to my feet. The most wonderful eyes I had seen in my short [and probably soon to end] life slowly blinked and impassively went back to admire the picturesque sunset.
The relief was so great that I almost fainted. Suddenly everything went normal. I could hear the birds sing, feel the smell of trees in blossom and hear the wind whisper over the trees and my feet felt the ground under them. Wow – I was completely amazed and fascinated….the gorgeous cat spared my life and I will have dinner and not be dinner.
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