Crow Blue

Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa Read Free Book Online

Book: Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa Read Free Book Online
Authors: Adriana Lisboa
the construction of the Trans-Amazonian Highway, a historic start to the conquest of this gigantic green world .
    It was forty degrees that day. The general had hung the Brazilian flag from a tree (everything was improvised in those parts, it seemed) and listened to a military band play the national anthem, after being greeted by the three thousand inhabitants of Altamira. Later, the felling of a 160-foot tree marked the beginning of work on the future highway. The president was deeply moved.
    His transport minister was also happy. He had an apple of his eye and the apple of his eye was a bridge: in addition to the highway slicing through Brazil from the Atlantic to the Peruvian border, in the southeast of the country Colonel Andreazza was building a structure, planned almost a century earlier, over Guanabara Bay to connect the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói. The bridge had an enormous advantage over the highway: it would be finished. Better yet, the work wasn’t inaugurated in the middle of the jungle, but amid civilization, and in the presence of two of the most civilized exponents of the civilized world possible: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
    A lot of people died during the construction of the Rio-Niterói Bridge. Legend has it that the dead stayed there, at the bottom of the bay, and the bridge was built over their bodies. If this is true, anyone driving over it is crossing a sad informal cemetery where cadavers rub shoulders with fish and concrete. The rumbling of the traffic overhead and the slight vibration of the heavy structure reaches their impotent, deafened ears. In their interrupted thoughts echo memories of the salty smell of the sea and the salty smell of the bay’s humid air, crisscrossed by gulls and planes. With or without legends, the bridge was completed, with all the boring into the ocean floor and other monumentalities befitting the largest country in South America.
    In Altamira, the tree trunk with the plaque commemorating the inauguration of the Trans-Amazonian Highway is known as the “President’s Tree.” There is some vegetation growing over it. Nearby is the municipality of Medicilância, but most of the population doesn’t know who Médici was.
    To me, he was (yet) another name in a history book, on a list of past presidents that we had to memorize. Someone who had called the shots in Brazil when my mother was still a child. When I wasn’t even an idea, or a wish, or a danger, when I wasn’t even holding a number waiting for someone to say off you go, it’s your life now, it starts in five minutes.
    It was as if Fernando and I were from different countries.
    In forty years, an unimaginable number of things can happen. A fraction of them actually do. People are born, die, sing songs called “Me & Bobby McGee,” don’t sing them, more people are born, more people die, several disappear from the map without a trace. Trans-Amazonian highways inaugurated with great pomp are never finished, and the size of the wound can even be seen from outer space. Jeep drivers and motor cyclists often travel it in pursuit of mud and excitement. National football teams become three-time world champions, then four-time world champions, then five-time world champions, knowing that it still isn’t everything and that history goes on. Eclipses take place. Tidal waves, earthquakes and hurricanes stir up many parts of the planet. Amazon forests start being cleared, non-governmental organizations emerge in their defense. Amazon forests continue being cleared to the order of one Belgium a year, basically for cattle farming. The miracle of the transubstantiation of forest into beef. (Soy? It too is transubstantiated. It is exported and becomes cattle fodder in rich countries.)
    In forty years, girls called Evangelina appear in the world. They grow up in front of the sea in Copacabana. They suspect almost nothing. They have never seen eclipses.

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