Sadly, I was named after my Portuguese Grandma who died long before I was born. I will call her M. 

*******

In the early 20th century, M enjoyed an idyllic carefree existence on the picturesque equatorial island of Sao Tome. The only child of thriving coffee plantation owners, her life wanted nothing. Nothing. Cornucopias of exotic fruits, meats and bread sated her, while enticing Arabica aromas welcomed. Workers respectively quietened as she waltzed in her new attire past bountiful guava and mango trees. Life was wonderful; the plantation was a safe haven of privileged prosperity far removed from poverty. Cotton wool wrapped, M was blissfully unaware of anything distasteful like squalor. Of Portuguese peasants scraping a meagre existence fishing and farming, she knew nothing. Ignorant too of their ragged children who like mangy dogs foraged and swam in crocodile-infested rivers. Meanwhile, M danced in her insulated cosmos. 

As a teen, M admired Rodrigo’s sinewy muscles move tirelessly under his light skin. The skilled worker hand-fed donkeys and hitched them to wagons of coffee beans. His steeled back, arms of tight muscles and steadfast work had laboured long to collect those coffee beans.

Life was beyond wondrous for M. Her future was secure and beautiful.

Her parents, admiring the work ethics and skills of Rodrigo, promoted him. 

*******

The bells rang from the quaint Catholic church as Rodrigo and M emerged hand in hand. Reverently, they bowed to the Cross, Trinity and Saints before heading to the plantation. In the distance, rough labourers from the morros and fields threw Luso-African creole and Portuguese at each other while heckling the Angolan slaves.

Rodrigo’s extravagant wedding present was a share in the plantation. A greed seed ballooned as he surveyed “his” plantation. 

Sweat drenched, M lay back on her bed lovingly watching Rodrigo cuddle their first born while her Mother cooed in the birthing room. The son and heir had Rodrigo’s light skin and M’s pleasant chubbiness. 

Rodrigo still strained beside the magnificent plantation home, but now escudos occupied his brain. Each wagon of coffee beans had a new value. It was HIS.

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Allan Neil
Allan Neil(@allan-neil)
2 months ago

A subtly introduced black cloud over a tropical paradise. Another nicely paced story Margarida. The first part had me wanting to get on the next plane to Sao Tome! Thank you, or as your grandmother might have said ‘obrigata Senhora’

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
1 month ago

Just loved your description of the island, the colours, the smells, the contrasts, the lights and shadows pervading the fiber of your narrative. Your characters have a delicious quality as always!

Voice-Team
Voice-Team(@voice-team)
Admin
Reply to  Margarida Brei
1 month ago

We changed three instances of Rodriguez to Rodrigo. Now everything seems to match!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago

I crave coffee as I am reading your story, Margarida. I smelled its fragrance. And you expressed well the beauty of the island of Sao Tome. That makes me do some research about that place. So captivating. I love it.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Margarida Brei
8 days ago

You’re most welcome, Margarida. I am in love of the photos of Sao Tome too. Please share your experience when you get there.

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