The Bewitching Braid
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
Title and Copyright Pages
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One of the characteristics of Portuguese overseas expansion in the sixteenth century was the early appearance of mixed populations in the territories that came under some form of Portuguese political or economic control. ...
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Whoever goes down the Cal�ada do Gaio and wishes to take a short cut to the Rua do Campo, turns the corner and inevitably has to cross a labyrinth of narrow thoroughfares, dominated by an untidy and uncharacteristic mass of dwellings that make up Cheok Chai Un. ...
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Adozindo hailed from the Largo de Cam�es, so he was a true son of the Santo Ant�nio quarter of old Macao. The same went for his parents and his other closest relatives. ...
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Among the water-sellers who 'drew the water' most energetically from the well at Cheok Chai Un, was A-Leng, at the time twenty-two years of age, brimming with health and life. She fetched and carried tirelessly around the well from early morning, filling buckets of water, transporting them, one on either end of the long pole she...
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It was a beautiful autumn day for fishing, the sky was limpid, the scenery all lit up in metallic tones, something that only happens in October and November. The Handsome Adozindo had sneaked out of the house early, so as not to bump into his father. ...
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All afternoon, Adozindo chewed over this latest offence. In his injured pride, he felt as if a large thorn had penetrated right through his self-esteem. It was a case of impertinence, and she needed to be taught a lesson! ...
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He didn't have the courage to risk a fourth unbecoming incident. A stain had blemished his reputation and he was astonished at such an unusual display of resistance, an aversion so unequivocally demonstrated. He had suffered a humiliating rebuff. ...
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That triumph over the water-seller's distrustful heart made the Handsome Adozindo jubilant and fed his bravado. At night, over billiards, he was profuse in his rejoicing, and bought beers for everyone, even those he hardly knew. ...
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At 5:45 on the morning of that fateful day, 13th August 1931, at the end of a radiant dawn, the entire city was shaken from end to end by a horrendous explosion. Doors and windows were blown in by the rush of air, accompanied by the crash of glass as it shattered into thousands of razor sharp splinters. ...
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The Handsome Adozindo slid like a thief over the cobblestones of the sleeping streets. He had come from the Rua Nova � Guia, avoiding the light from streetlamps, and had come down the last side street, his footsteps muffled by the rubber soles of his gym shoes. ...
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Well, it had been hard, but he had achieved what he set out to do. He had proved worthy of his title was still the irresistible Handsome Adozindo. He could now perfectly well cast off the defeated water-seller and devote himself completely to the adorable, wealthy widow, for the good of his social standing and pocket. ...
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He thought it ridiculous to make such a short journey by rickshaw to the Rua do Hospital, But it was at his father's insistence, because it looked chic. At the end of the street, he jumped out, paid the driver, and began to climb unhurriedly the steep gradient of the Cal�ada do Monte. ...
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He stalked off, furious with the governess's open disrespect, but at the same time, he felt strangely relieved. He hadn't promised anything, hadn't given an answer and therefore had time to think. He bridled at pressure put on him to take this or that decision. ...
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Shut away in the comfort of his room, Adozindo barely slept a wink. My! What a night! Everything had conspired to make him unlucky. A complication involving women that the Handsome Adozindo hadn't bargained for, and all on the same night! ...
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He beat on the back door because he had forgotten his key, and A-Sam, perplexed, let out a cry of horror. She had never seen the Young Master looking so dirty and ragged, his hair all ruffled. He spoke to her brusquely, told her to keep quiet and asked where his parents were. ...
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That night, there was much agitation on the Estrada da Vict�ria. An entire family was mired in shame. The mother, grandmother, aunt and cousin Catarina wept and fainted more than once, in dramatic displays of hysteria. ...
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They struggled across the streets, while the attention of many was attracted by this unusual and unexpected scene. The Handsome Adozindo, without his customary arrogance, lugging his heavy suitcase, followed by the Chinese girl, barefoot, her tam-lon over her shoulders, her baskets swaying, blindly following her man through this strange city. ...
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Luckily a rickshaw appeared and the driver want to fetch another two, the third to carry the rest of their luggage. It was a caravan that attracted attention, but there was nothing to be done about it. ...
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He hadn't adapted at all well to the house, which was short of comforts and far below the standards he was used to, and he couldn't hide his humiliation. On the other hand, he had to admit that it was better than the hostel or the hovel in Cheok Chai Un. ...
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He didn't stop her leaving for he was sure she would come back. He smoked half a packet of cigarettes, watching the door and listening for the slightest sound, and he began to get worried. She hadn't been play-acting in order to soften him up and awaken his sense of pity. ...
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She had gambled everything when, carrying her bundle of things, she had left the house, deliberately treading in the mud and puddles in the street. She was taking a risk by abandoning him, but she couldn't see any better solution. ...
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The shipping company was situated right on a dilapidated old pier, which was badly in need of repairs. It wasn't very grand, much to Adozindo's disappointment, but then his opinion changed when he saw how busy it was. ...
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One evening, when he got home from work, he found her singing as she huddled over the board, pressing his white shirts with the wood-burning iron. That same morning, she had woken him with the same catchy song, which left him truly mystified. ...
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Their wedding was a simple affair, devoid of any pomp, and followed straight after A-Leng's baptism, in which she received the name of Ana, which was easier for her remember. It was eight o'clock, one weekday morning. ...
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The months passed slowly and monotonously while they waited for the end of the pregnancy. Adozindo occupied his time by throwing himself heart and soul into his work and the many and varied activities that his boss was involved in. ...
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Their son grew up and grew bigger, and a second child came, another robust boy who, in his first months, sucked his mother's breast with a noisy, voracious appetite. ...
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In spite of the isolated life they led, the couple were well informed and didn't need to ask what was going on in town. On her visits to the house, the Queen-Bee brought news of all the goings on in Cheok Chai Un and the Bazaar. ...
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One Saturday, Adozindo decided to devote the afternoon to his wife, who had been insisting on the need to do some shopping in the Bazaar. It was a long time since he had been out with her because he always had some work to do for the firm. ...
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After mass the following day, he did indeed take a detour from his usual route home. He struck out in the direction of the Rampa dos Artilheiros, by descending the steps of the Cal�ada de S�o L�zaro. ...
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She had never demanded any revenge or at any time even hinted at anything like it. Everything had happened upon Adozindo's initiative, and the incident could have had more serious consequences. ...
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Big Fist Joaquim didn't approve of his mother's volte face. At heart, his opposition came from the antipathy he felt towards Adozindo. Clumsy and coarse, he tried to place obstacles in the way of a lease by imposing ridiculous and unacceptable conditions, before even showing them the house. ...
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A few more years rolled by. Papa Aurélio had aged considerably, and had a marked stoop. His heart was still strong buy his knees were full of rheumatism and he found it hard to walk. ...
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The paper kite was fluttering uncontrollably, veering to the right all the time, and responding only sluggishly to the commands of Adozindo, who held the big reel of line. It was magnificent Malay, one of half-a-dozen that had been bought in Hong Kong to the delight of the boys, Paulo, aged eight, and Jaime, who was nearly six. ...
... LAST WORDS
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On the eve of my departure to Portugal, where I was going to complete my studies, I ran into Adozindo by chance, sitting on a bench in the Sao Francisco Garden, in front of the main entrance to the Santa Rosa de Lima College. ...
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Page Count: 212
Publication Year: 2004