Thursday, October 24, 2013

30. The Angolano

Down along the road, in an aging concrete house, lives the famous Angolano.  

He was born in Angola in 1923, into a semi-wealthy family of Portuguese colonialists.  He met his African wife, Helena, while working internationally, and fell in love with her immediately.  She was 18 years old.  He was nearly fifty.  They got married in Mozambique, had eight children in succession, and have been here ever since.  They've been married now for over 40 years.  

The Angolano and his Dona are some of our favorite people in Zobue.  Their stories are fascinating, and they're such wonderful company.  We make sure to visit often, but only when we have ample time to sit and talk (and listen).

The Angolano and his wife

Our conversations are usually circular and repetitive, but always entertaining. Today, I sat down with the family for an hour while Dan was away.  The couple greeted me with their usual enthusiasm, and launched into a giddy and one-sided exchange.

For the sake of amusement and clarification, here is a sample of our conversation:

The Dona:  Ahh!  (Claps hands)  It's you!  My friend!
The Angolano:  Ehh.  Who's that?  Is that my grand-daughter?
Me:  Good afternoon, Dona.  Good afternoon, Senhor.  
The Angolano:  Ehh.  Come over here and say hello.
The Dona:  I told you that they didn't leave for good.  I told you so.  
The Angolano:  Don't you kids go away with out saying goodbye to us.  
The Dona:  They won't go away without saying goodbye!
The Angolano:  I didn't say that they would!  I was just telling them!
The Dona:  Well, they won't.
The Angolano:  I'm just making sure. (To me)  Don't you go away without saying goodbye.
The Dona:  She heard you the first time.
Me:  We won't.  We promise.  
The Dona:  See that?  She promised.  She's a good girl.  
Me:  Thank you.
The Dona:  What are you doing these days?  You look so fat and happy!  Do you have a baby in that belly?
Me:  No... 
The Dona:  You are going to have so many little babies!  I can just feel it.  
Me:  Oh.  Thanks...
The Dona:  You have to come back and visit when you have your babies.  
Me:  Okay.
The Dona:  When you come back, we'll cut our yard in half and give the second half to you.  
Me:  Oh.  That's a very nice offer...
The Dona:  And you will open up a preschool and care for the orphaned children.  
Me:  Oh.  Okay...
The Dona:  Aiiii!  The poverty, the poverty.  Problems with money.  
Me:  Yes...
The Dona:  Thieves.  Thieves and robbers.  Do you know what they did?
Me:  No, what?
The Dona:  They entered my yard and murdered my poor dog.  Beat her to death with a stick.  Sold all of her parts to make medicines for the witch doctors and nguli-ngulis.  
Me:  Oh, that's horrible.
The Dona:  They beat my son with a katana.
Me:  Oh, gosh.  Is he all right!?
The Dona:  Of course he's not all right!  He's a useless alcoholic.  
Me:  Oh...
The Dona:  He married an old woman, you know.
Me:  Oh.  Did he?
The Dona:  She's 35 years old.  35!  He's 30.  She already has big grown-up children, but she's not giving him any babies.  I didn't ask her why.  
Me:  Gosh.
The Dona:  You look pretty.  So fat and happy.  (To her husband)  Old man, doesn't she look nice today?
The Angolano:  What?
The Dona:  Isn't she a pretty one?
The Angolano:  She's normal.  
The Dona:  Ehh, you don't know anything.  You're just an old man.  
The Angolano:  Ehhhhhh.
The Dona:  Work, work, work.  That's all I do.  I take care of this old man.  Look at me!  I'm getting old like him.  
The Angolano:  How long does it take to get to America?
Me:  By airplane?
The Dona:  I'm old and fat.  My husband is sick.  My good children are in Portugal.  The two sons that I have with me here are drunks.  
The Angolano:  By airplane.
Me:  About 20 hours, I guess.  If you go through Johannesburg.
The Dona:  What did I do to deserve these sons?  What bad luck.  
The Angolano:  Don't you leave without saying goodbye.
The Dona:  They're not going to leave without saying goodbye.  (To me) You're not going to leave without saying goodbye, are you?
Me:  No, of course not.  
The Dona:  I told you that they wouldn't.  (To me) You know, he doesn't like anybody but you.  He hates everybody.  
The Angolano:  I don't hate everybody.
The Dona:  You hate everybody.  You don't know what you're talking about.  
The Angolano:  Ehhhh, you know what?  You know what?  These two will get a phone call in America in December to tell them that the Angolano is dead.
Me:  Oh, no.  Are you feeling sick?
The Angolano:  (leans back and closes his eyes)
The Dona:  (To me) You are going to have so many little babies!  I can just feel it!  

... and so on and so forth.  

What funny and wonderful people!  Dona Helena has been a bit of a grandmother to me, and it will be hard to leave her.  We promised to send the next visitors down to her house to visit, but she shook her head indignantly.  

"Not the same," she said.  "Not the same.  You're the best ones, you two are."

Me and Dona Helena

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