Mia Couto at the TLS:
I manage to travel two weeks after the cyclone. The pilot of the plane is a friend and he tells me that he is going to fly over the area around my city so that I can see the extent of the flooding. He’s right to show me: for miles around, the land is sea. Villages and small towns that I would normally recognize are still under water. I regret sitting next to the window. I regret not taking Dany’s advice to cancel my trip. I remember the moment my brothers decided to go to visit the body of my father in the morgue. I refused to go with them. I wanted to find again the living expression and warm hands of the man who gave me life. And once more, I’m torn apart by what I must confront. Beneath me is my decapitated city. I have to wipe my eyes to keep on looking. The other passengers are filming and taking photographs. And all this is unreal to me. I’m the last to leave the plane, as if afraid of not knowing how to walk on that ground, my first ground. As children, we don’t say goodbye to places. We always think that we’ll come back. We believe that it’s never the last time. And that trip had the bitter taste of goodbye.