Journal: Africa reveals itself to discovery. December 10, 1967.
The hiss of the steamer “N / T Príncipe Perfeito” can be heard for miles around. It is a stunning sunny day. The morning had awakened with a gentle breeze that blew from the East, bringing the song of the gulls, lulled by the hope of a new dawn. Próculo Augusto aims at the infinite, opening his arms as if trying to wrap the port of the city of Beira in a warm embrace.
Officially, he was searching with his friend, Diogo Lopes Pacheco, for the tomb of Queen Fátima Binti Zacarias.
In reality, he longed for a new life, a rebirth that would put an end to his long journey, which had began two decades earlier, in the distant lands of Vera Cruz.
The city of Beira is then a small metropolis and everything brings to mind the faces and images of his Portugal left some years ago. The gestures of simple people captivate him and everywhere smiles (sincere or not) revealed themselves from ear to ear. Happy people with so little possessions. Mozambican assimilates pique his curiosity during his city break. For the procedures of the "Estado Novo", the assimilated person is the black or mixed-race Mozambican who overcomes his condition as an indigenous, “non-civilized”, the reality being quite different, since the assimilated person does not completely abandon his indigenous practices and customs.
It is during one of these gatherings that he meets Helena Melânia, the greater Love of his life. And in which Diogo Lopes Pacheco, his longtime friend, comes to figure as the worst of his enemies, envious of the smiles of happiness from the two lovers, desiring to possess the beautiful Helena, eager to betray Próculo in his intentions.
After a few months of preparation, the expedition heads to the North, towards the Islamized lands of Nunu (Lady) Fátima Zacarias, ancient ruler of the Seremaje region, habitat of the hardened Macondes and matriarchs Macuas. Their journey takes them through the sacred tree Muanene Ilapo (Owner of the Earth) and the local female healer, seeing so many striking knights passing by, launches her challenge to the guide of such a showy expedition. Her husky voice seemed to take on a new life when she pronounced a name: “Melânia? Someone as sweet as honey? ”Próculo, upon hearing the name of his beloved one, turns his face in amazement to the old witch questioning:“ What do you know about Helena? ”, To which the healer said with an enigmatic smile: “Love will triumph!”. Feeling favored by Luck, Próculo continues his undaunted path, deaf to the last words of the old woman, carrying in his mind and memory, the image of the almond-shaped eyes with which he was enchanted ... he does not notice a strange frown on the healer's face, nor listen to her last few words, whispered in the breeze of the East wind: "After Love triumphs to the Earth you will return ... to the Earth you will return ...".
Diary: Love ... or unloved? January 31, 1968.
Beleza perdida – e encontrada (Quatro Estações)
Eras jovem e bela Primavera
Mil sorrisos nasciam em teu rosto
Flor mais bela que ao mundo a mãe dera
Flor de noiva em grinalda posto
O Verão em teu corpo esbelto
Em mim soltava ondas de paixão
E teus lábios doces – meu prato predilecto
Sol de desejo e sensação
Com o Outono fria não ficaste
Árvore de verde despida
Enrugada mas jamais sem vida
Confirmavas o Amor que germinaste
Ao chegar o fim da caminhada
De andares pelo Céu e pelo Inferno
Em teu sorriso vislumbro minha Amada
A Primavera que virá após o Inverno.
During the trip, everything seems new in the eyes of the seasoned explorer, Africa keeps within itself the deepest secrets of humanity. Like any good self-respecting explorer, Próculo wrote everything on the pages of his Travel Journal. That in the sacred trees, families seek to cure their illnesses, offering part of the little they have in ritual meals (either to various gods, or in honor of their ancestors), when Western medicine does not bring them such a cure or the answer ready for their ailments. Cassava and corn were the most common offerings for such purposes.
The first page of Próculo's Journal contained a simple poem dedicated to his first and only true African Love, Helena Melânia, a girl of small stature, with almond-shaped eyes as black as pearls from the Indian Ocean and her multiple shifts of fearful smiles. With a body sweet as honey, skin soft, firm and at the same time so fragile and tender. Passionate, but afraid about the true intentions of that (White men) mussungo that had come from so far. The saying prayed like this:
Young and beautiful spring ages
A thousand smiles were born in your face
Most beautiful flower
than in the world any mother had given
Bridal flower in wreath placed
Summer in your slim body
In me released waves of passion
And your sweet lips - my favorite meal
Sun of desire and sensation
With the autumn cold you didn't stay
Naked green tree
Wrinkled but never lifeless
You confirmed the Love that you germinated
At the end of the walk
Floating through Heaven and Hell
In your smile I see my Beloved One
The spring that will come after the winter.
O longo braço da ditadura. 22 de Fevereiro de 1968
The long arm of the dictatorship. February 22, 1968
Dreams can be blissful, but reality falls far short from what is sometimes dreamed of. The dictatorial regime seeks to control everything and everyone, both in the Metropolis as in the Colonies, using the inquisitorial claws of their henchmen spread throughout the four corners of the Empire. Próculo proclaims, innocently... in all his actions, he shows to be a man of values, principles, honor... unfortunately he utters words and speeches admittedly from the left wing.
Diogo Lopes Pacheco sees his opportunity there. When they finally arrived in Nampula, the expedition's fame had already preceded them and its most illustrious members are invited to dine that night at the residence of the local governor.
Intermingled among the guests, two PIDE inspectors wait for the right moment for the capture. Proculo in all his acts says nothing to confirm openly his political preferences, but the sentence was dictated and drafted for a long time. When they finally leave the reception, following a poorly lit path, Diogo strikes his friend on the back of the head and he falls limp on the floor. Captured, he is thus taken to prison.
Diary: In the Ides of March, betrayal. March 15, 1968.
Álvaro Gonçalves, a stocky body with a little prominent chin, a bad judge, corrupted by Diogo Lopes Pacheco does not lead the trial to drag on for a long time - were it not possible for someone to dare to ask for clemency for this man - advocating his death sentence for crimes of betrayal of the Fatherland and the State. Torture for 24 hours a day is a constant for almost a month.
Diary: Finally got home! April 4, 1968.
Próculo walks slowly because the torture of sleep and the broken chairs on his back thus leave their marks, sore body, purple knuckles, almost deaf from the tortures inflicted, face raised in a sign always defiant, surrounded by his henchmen who do not then dare to touch him, stunted and bent by the force of his character. The cell is then empty. On the walls of the prison, a small poem recorded as a filiform went unnoticed by all eyes:
The morning had started with a gentle breeze blowing from the East, bringing the song of the seagulls lulled by the hope of a new dawn. Próculo targets the firing squad, firmly clenching his wrists.
The last words exchanged with Helena echo in his mind: “Do you promise to come back to me when you finish your expedition, Augusto?”. Helena had always called him by his second name. "Yes, I promise my Goddess, don't you see how I love you already?" That tenuous moment of farewell seemed to have happened decades ago ... he would have given everything at that moment to return to that courtyard, pick up Helena and take her back to Portugal, to a safe place and away from all those scenarios.
Pedro Coelho, the firing squad leader, was a man whipped by the desire of revenge for the massacre of his own a few months earlier and that man in front of him personified centuries of antagonism and the anger he felt. However, the few days of living together that they deprived made him see that Próculo was a good Man. A mixture of feelings invades his mind in a whirlwind of antagonistic ideas. Again and again, he looks out onto the balcony, where Álvaro Gonçalves finds himself unmoved and serene. He hopes to hear a different order, but it is not enough: “Fire!” Is his last word spoken to the firing squad.
Próculo's body, swept by the bullets resulting from the rifles, kneels as a sign of last prayer to his executioners and finally fragile falls to the muddy ground, clenched fists.
On his firmly clenched fist, when they were able to open it at great cost, they found a bracelet with a heart in pure gold ... engraved, a moon with the initials HM. Those looking for spoils in the explorer's body lay away, smiling yellowy among themselves, they had already won the day.
Suddenly the clouds closed and the monsoon rains in the Indian Ocean started to pour out, as if the skies themselves were weeping for Próculo's death. All of them abandon the courtyard and veranda in an unsteady and clumsy way and, some time later, a small and fragile figure covered by a long black cloak approaches the inert body. After making sure that no one else had noticed it's presence, it called two tall men for himself, taking the body to a shelter ...
That same day, more than a dozen thousand kilometers away, another body had fallen, murdered. In a newspaper spread across the mud of the street, fallen from the balcony of the bad judge, one could still read the following emblematic sentence uttered by such a man: “What worries me most is not the cry of the violent, nor the corrupt, nor the dishonest, nor the unethical. What worries me is the silence of good men."
What was done of Próculo's body was never known to anyone else. The old men playing cards on the Island of Mozambique, on the steps of one of the multiple mosques that rise there, for those few who sometimes when passing by asked for news from Próculo said:
“Fátima Zacarias took him with her!” Others claimed that he was now with Helena Melânia, who would have survived his firing squad and now they would be living happily on a small island in the Quirimbas archipelago, where no envy, malice, scorn or bad saying could reach them now.
After the hardships of the long journey, for the first time the explorer had finally arrived home!
P.s. - Under the pseudonym Luce Fecit, written for the Tertúlia João de Araújo Correia Competition.
It is currently being adapted to a Theater Play here in Mozambique and we expect to take the stage during the next year of 2020.
(Dedicated to an African Princess)