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  • Ana Davenga
  • Conceiçăo Evaristo (bio)
    Translated by David Brookshaw

The rapping on the door reverberated like the drumroll to a samba. At that midnight hour, Ana Davenga's startled heart grew calm. Then, all was peaceful, relatively peaceful. She jumped up from her bed and opened the door. They all came in, all of them except her man. The men crowded round Ana Davenga. The women, hearing the commotion in Ana's shack, came over too. Suddenly, the whole world seemed to fit into that tiny space. Ana Davenga had recognized the knocks. She hadn't misinterpreted the signal. A knocking that imitated the start of a samba or macumba session was to say everything was okay. All was at peace, insofar as it was possible. A different signal, consisting of hurried knocks, indicated something bad, awful, dreadful was imminent. The rapping she had heard didn't forewarn of any disaster. In that case, where was her man, given that the other women's men were all there? Where was her man? Why wasn't Davenga there?

Davenga wasn't there. The men surrounded Ana with due care, and so did the women. Caution was required. Davenga was good. He had God in his heart, but when provoked, he was the devil incarnate. They had all learned how to look at Ana Davenga. They looked at the woman while trying to ignore the vitality and allure that burst from every pore of her skin.

Davenga's shack was a kind of military command center, and he was its boss. Everything was decided there. At first, Davenga's companions viewed Ana with envy, desire, and mistrust. The man lived alone. He and the other men devised and planned all their exploits in that place. And then, all of a sudden, without consulting his companions, he installed a woman there. They thought of choosing another boss and new headquarters, but didn't have the courage. In due course, Davenga announced to them that the woman would be staying with him, but that nothing would change. She was blind, deaf, and mute in matters that concerned them. At the same time, he wanted to make one more thing clear: if anyone interfered with her, he himself would castrate that person like a pig, and leave him to die in his own blood. His friends got the message. And when they felt their desire rise on seeing the woman's full, round breasts, something like a deep pain spread through their nether regions. Desire then waned, faded away, dissolving any chance of physical excitement and ensuing pleasure. Ana thus became like a sister to them, inhabiting the incestuous dreams of Davenga's partners in crime and law breaking. [End Page 60]

Ana Davenga's heart ached with anxiety. All the men were there except hers. The men stood around Ana. And the women, as if they were picking a partner to dance with, stood in a circle around their male companions, each stopping behind the man who belonged to her. Ana looked at them all and didn't notice any sadness whatsoever. What was going on? Were they harboring a deep pain and merely masking their suffering so that she shouldn't suffer? Was it some practical joke of Davenga's? Was he hiding behind them all? No! Davenga wasn't a man to do such things! He wasn't beyond a joke, but only with his comrades. And when this happened, the horseplay was of a brutal kind. Punching, kicking, shoving and slapping, you sons-of-bitches … it was more like a fight. Where was Davenga? Had he got mixed up in some fracas? Yes, her man couldn't keep to himself. And he was a child in everything. Hed do things she just didn't want to think about. Sometimes hed be on the run for days, even months, and then when she least expected it, she stumbled across him right there inside the home. Indeed, Davenga seemed to have the power to become invisible. Sometimes she would just go out for a minute to take some washing in from the line or chat for a while with her women friends...


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pp. 60-65
Launched on MUSE
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