Writing 101 Day 4: Story of Loss – Menino Candulo Senhor Comandante

Day 4’s assignment is to write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

This post is not coming easily to me. Almost a year ago my Uncle Guilherme passed away. Last night my Aunt Salome died. When my Uncle passed on my Aunt honoured his memory on her Facebook page. Today many of her friends are honouring her memory on her Facebook page. They were not related as they came from different sides of the family.

Both loved books. My Uncle wrote books in Portuguese which were translated into other languages. My Aunt adored books and read in many different languages. Both were children of Mozambique.

In April of 1974 my Uncle, Guilherme de Melo wrote a book called “Menino Candulo Senhor Comandante”. This is the translation of his dedication page:

“Everything in life has an explanation. A why.

The why of this book then – it is for the little people, but one which adults can also read – simple.

It happened that, one day, I arrived at the family home for dinner, like all human beings, citizens or not – naturally do. My young great-nieces were playing with each other. The youngest, almost five years old, busied herself with colouring-in books. The eldest read fables with fairies and dragons – she was a playful eight year and in the third grade. My Mom, great-grandmother to both little girls, was very proud of her gifts which she loved telling visitors to the house about.

“Tio, why don’t you write a story for us?” the eldest asked me with a serious look on her face as soon as she saw me enter the house.

“But you’ve got so many books already with which you can entertain yourself and read aloud to your sister. ” I objected.

With a petulant expression on her face she said, “Oh! I’ve read them all. And the books Granny brings me all tell the same stories – princesses, witches, giants and the big bad wolf…But why is it that there are no stories for children that take place in THIS country Tio…?

They actually do. That same morning, the newspaper where I work had run such a story, a small insert sent from the correspondent in Vila Cabral:

“Five children from the area of the Luissa village, some 20 kilometres from Vila Cabral presented themselves to the Portuguese authorities. They had been kidnapped by Frelimo last May, together with a group of men and women. Candulo Bonomar, 11 years old, Anete Anjida e Lua Uinasi, both 9 years old, Adaima Aide, 6 years old and Abide Bara, were taken to Tanzania, where, on the northern banks of the Rovuma River, the kidnappers separated the adults from the children. The children and adults – it is not clear how many there were – were taken to the so-called “Escola do Macheje”. Candulo Bonomar planned an escape, telling his four friends about it. Under the pretense of going down to the river to wash their clothes, they made their escape. After walking through the bush for many days they came upon a Portuguese military patrol who took them to Pauila, and then to Macaloje. They were finally transported to Vila Cabral and Luissa where they are now.”

Newspapers sizzled with this news.

From which this book happened.

For all the children of my country to read. And the adults to meditate on it.”

My Aunt’s free-spiritness is something I will always remember and be inspired by.

My Uncle, Guilherme de Melo is the reason I write!

"Tio" is Portuguese for "Uncle".
The country is Mozambique, until 1974 a colony of Portugal.
A violent war was waged for many years, mainly contained in the north of the country.
Frelimo was the liberation movement.
Mozambique is now a democracy.
Frelimo is the current party in government.
Vila Cabral, Pauila, Macaloje, Luissa are all towns in Mozambique.
I haven’t been able to get information on the Escola do Macheje which I assume was infamous.
I don’t know what became of Candulo Bonomar and his 4 friends.

A paucity of information on my Uncle exists on the web - I guess it is up to me to right this.

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Writing 101 Day 3 – Three Songs

Today’s assignment is Day 3: Commit to a writing practice - Write about the three most important songs in your life -- what do they mean to you? Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don't censor yourself; don't think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you. 

So here we go...

I’m not a traditionalist so when it came to planning my wedding I aimed to eschew with as much tradition as possible mainly because of old fashioned wedding tradition has got to do with wives obeying husbands and such things. Those of you who know me, will know I was having none if it! I wanted to get married to a wonderful man, share my life with him. That’s all.

The song I chose to walk down the aisle (yes yes I know what you’re thinking, I got married in a church, mainly because my Mom wished it to be so and when parents are paying for the wedding there are some things that I had to let go of) was not the wedding march but Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale.

The organist was very excited to play a different song and had fun writing the sheet music for the organ. So why the Whiter Shade of Pale then? It’s a beautiful song, I like the melody and the lyrics are very mysterious. I’m not one of those people that reads much into the song lyrics, I often don’t remember them only the choruses. I just like what it sounds like.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller is the second song that comes to mind. It’s the ultimate party song that gets me up and dancing when it comes on the radio or the DJ plays it. The video blew me away, it was long, I adored the story and the dancing…wow! It had me, along with thousands of others trying to copy the moves. It still blows me away whenever I see it all these years later. It reminds me of my teenage years, finding my own taste in music (other than my parents’).

One by U2 surprises me each time. I surprise myself with how it surprises me. It starts off so softly, so gently and then surprises me with its power. With Mary J Blige singing it along with Bono the roof literally comes down. This song changes my state instantly. It puts me in a hopeful and inspired state, it uplifts me every single time. I’ve watched many versions of this song on YouTube, each one subtly different to the last one. When it comes on the radio while I’m on my way to work I turn up the volume and move to it.

Well this was fun and scary at the same time, uninterrupted writing, no editing. I’m publishing. If you’re reading this, be gentle.