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NANCY & EDUARDO
In a small town, a civil parish, in the northern coast of Portugal, Richard was born. Barely a few months later, his father Eduardo Gelo, once again ventured into Africa. He wanted a new life for his family. It took Eduardo three years to establish himself well enough there and only then did his wife, Nancy, his daughter Ella and son Richard, join him in the city of gold, Johannesburg, South Africa. Those three years waiting in Portugal had been tough for Nancy.
She had spent some time in Angola, where her daughter Ella was born and had fallen deeply in love with Africa. The prospect of returning was exciting but even more so, that of seeing and being with her husband again.
Nancy and Eduardo had first met in Angola. Nancy was a beautiful, elegant blue-eyed woman with long goldilocked hair. Her passion for the theatre had seen her become an actress.
Eduardo, dark and handsome, often called an Elvis lookalike, was acting in a movie for a French company. He had been given a lead role as a sheriff and the producer had chosen Angola as the location to film the movie. A hidden gem of rambling nature reserves with rugged highlands and scads of pristine scenery situated inland to the east of Lobito, was a perfect spot for a Western production.
Both Nancy and Richard were based in the picturesque shore town of Lobito, a hub of maritime activity. Before the country was ravaged by war, it was at that time one of the main harbors in West Africa. Besides the miles of beautiful beaches, one could never tire of the daily ritual of watching the fiery golden majestic sunsets rippling across the evening sky, enlivening the ocean with glistening and shimmering rays. The local community, were also known for their fun loving and friendly nature, making living in this port paradisiac.
In time Nancy and Eduardo met. For Eduardo it was love at first sight. For Nancy it took a little longer before she fell head over heels in love with Eduardo.
One late afternoon, Eduardo together with his crew, were at a local pub after a sweltering hot and demanding day, when the dames from the theatre company arrived for a refresher. Due to the intense and scorching African heat, it was common practice for the men and woman to spend late afternoons in the local pubs drinking the local beer or cerveja, as it was called.
Nancy glanced over her shoulder and noticed Eduardo perched on the upper deck of the pub, intensely gazing at the picturesque shoreline and the mile long pristine beach impregnated with coconut trees. Looking at Eduardo shirtless, in bermuda pants, she felt her heart miss a beat.
Nancy went over to the bar to collect her cerveja filled caneca (mug), and then walked over to Eduardo.
'You look deep in thought, mind somewhere in America maybe?' she asked.
He winked. He had spied her approaching him.
'Can I join you?' Nancy asked.
'My dreams are just getting better,' he responded with a wry but delighted smile.
Three hours later they were still perched on the same deck, titillating, laughing, joking, stirred on by a good few more cervejas. Eduardo even missed his 'pot bonding time', with the boys. They cultivated their own cannabis and on every occasional late afternoon off work they would meet on the beach, at their 'bonding dune', for their four-twenty indulgence of the forbidden fruit and the witty banter which followed rapidly thereafter. This indulgence could only happen on days when they didn't have to get back to set in the evening. Jokingly, they would say it was their creative way of team building. It would seem that for these aspiring actors their métier was breaking free from reality. Spending many hours on film set and using the few that remained to pursue their pleasurable indulgences meant that there was no time for the real world.
When the boys left for their little escapade, Eduardo offered to walk Nancy over to her beach bungalow. They rambled alongside the shoreline, jolly and frivolous, under the influence of the considerable intake of cerveja. Nancy relished in all the flirtatious comments from Eduardo as to how young and beautiful she was.
They arrived at the bungalow, both now bellowing with laughter as they tripped over the fallen coconuts. Despite Nancy's thundering alcohol-induced headache, she still invited Eduardo into her bungalow for an espresso.
Nancy's beach bungalow was hidden behind a sand dune under the shade of towering palm trees. A little rustic but superbly clean, neat and very appealing. The only place to sit was her bed draped beneath a mosquito net.
They talked and flirted some more. Although it was a sultry hot late afternoon, there was a gentle breeze coming in through the netted screens on the windows and door. As they both sat on the bed Eduardo would reach over sometimes and whisk a hair off Nancy's face. They stared into each other's eyes for a little while. The attraction was intense and the desire overwhelming. Eduardo parted the mosquito net and pulled Nancy onto the bed with him. He slowly rolled her body under his. They were soon entangled in each other's arms, erotically exploring each other. The lovemaking continued unabated into the early hours of the morning.
Three months passed and it dawned on Nancy that she had not had a period for two months. She confided in her friend Irene.
'Maybe the change of climate has thrown my hormones out of sync' Nancy lamented.
'It could well be so, but best you see a doctor', was her friend's response.
Nancy was suddenly overwhelmed by nausea. Deep in her gut she knew.
The news tormented Nancy. It was the early 1960's. She had embarked on a voyage about which her parents had been apprehensive. The director of the theatrical crew was a close friend of the family so this had given Nancy's parents some reassurance that their daughter would be fine.
'What am I to do?' she sobbed to both the bearer of the bad news, the dotora, and her friend Irene.
The dotora was very understanding and compassionate. She was a young doctor, with a presence and aplomb of a woman ten years older.
'You go home and think about it. Tomorrow morning when you wake up, your mind will be made,' said the dotora.
That was easier said than done. Nancy knew any decision meant hell. Her parents were staunch Catholics and she had been raised strictly. To her however, abortion was out of the question. She needed to muster some strength and face the consequences.
Eduardo was extremely supportive. He had loved her from the day he had set eyes on her. To commit to her for the rest of his life was both easy and very desirable. He suggested that they get married immediately. So a whirlwind of arrangements followed and they were married two weeks later.
It took another six months for Nancy to tell her parents that she was heavy with child. She remained traumatized about it and carried this guilt with her for the rest of her life.
'Our baby must never discover it was conceived out of wedlock' she would say to Eduardo. 'This is Africa, the systems don't work well here, to tweak a birth certificate shouldn't be a problem', Nancy muttered, trying to find solace in her own words.
Late January, on a sweltering Tuesday, she lay in the early hours of the morning in discomfort. The heat was intense, the pains were becoming more consistent and fierce. A few hours later, a baby girl was born with far less intensity than the night she had been conceived. The birth was easy.
'How could I have been blessed with such an easy birth and a beautiful baby?' Nancy asked, looking quizzically at the dotora.
Eduardo beamed with pride as he looked down at his newborn baby with a mop of jet-black hair.
Eduardo had been offered a role in another movie. The offer had come from a filming company in the USA. So life seemed good for Eduardo, Nancy and their newborn daughter, Ella.
FRANK & BETTY
It stormed the day Amber was born, on the eastern coast of South Africa, the second child of Frank and Betty Bandrock. They were delighted. But from that day forward it appeared that the storm would never abate.
Betty, she was tall and of slender stature, with striking sea blue eyes, and a capable woman who thrived on busy activity. Frank, also tall and lean, with a mop of prematurely silver hair in his late twenties, lacked ambition. He preferred a much more languid lifestyle, providing a mediocre life for the family. Betty also worked to supplement their income. Despite that, family income was erratic and they often struggled to make ends meet.
But there was one perfect aspect to their life. That was, their daughter, Amber. Raising that beautiful little girl with penetrating blue eyes and a mop of golden curls brought Betty and Frank a bucket load of joy. Every passerby would 'ooh' and 'wow' every time Betty or Frank would take her out in the stroller.
Their firstborn, William, was a bonny little boy, but never created the attention that they were now experiencing with Amber. Frank then was already entertaining thoughts that one day, his doll, his little girl, would 'go big' as a model.
And so Amber grew in her beauty. School was hard for her and Betty would often agonize with Frank regarding her poor performance.
'O lighten up woman, she doesn't need all that education, her beauty will bring in the big ones', Frank would say to Betty.
And so the conflict continued through the early years of Amber's school career. It was during these years that Frank enrolled Amber in a modeling school.
By the time Amber turned sixteen her eyes were set on Europe. Although she still had four years left of school education, legally she could drop out.
'O Frank, she is our baby, she is too young', Betty would lament day after day.
His reply would always be the same. 'What else is there for her? She has been blessed with beautiful looks and a body for modeling. Let her go and we will all reap the benefits one day.'
Frank always made light of something that caused Betty great anguish.
In no time, Amber was grabbed by a modeling agency. Whether or not her parents approved, she was going. At the least, she knew she had her father's blessing to fully pursue a modeling career.
Dropping Amber off at the airport was traumatic for Betty. Although she was her baby, Amber's confidence and looks meant she could easily pass for twenty-six, yet at only sixteen she was about to embark on a journey unfamiliar to both Betty and Frank.
Frank stood proud in the airport departure lounge. Betty on the other hand was a broken woman, but had to put up an appearance of strength in the face of her baby daughter appearing callous and unaware of her mother's emotions. When Amber did notice tears welling up in her mother's eyes, her reaction was 'O mother, please lighten up!'
They shared one last cup of coffee together before Amber set off on her new virgin venture. Thereafter they met up with a representative from the agency who eased Betty's emotions somewhat.
'Don't worry about a thing, we will take good care of her', said the agent. Betty needed that reassurance.
So with some tears of excitement, some of joy and some of fear they said their goodbyes.
In the lusciousness of southern Africa and its blistering heat, even in winter, Eduardo became ill. It was known for an array of tropical diseases. To diagnose the exact one was a guessing game and so treatment was like playing Russian roulette. Malaria was prevalent. The dotora diagnosed Eduardo with this complicated and life threatening infection. She was quick to source quinine and started him on treatment immediately. His condition however deteriorated. Nothing was working.
'I suggest you take him back home to his family, so he can be laid to rest at his roots', said the dotora.
Eduardo's American dream was shattered and Nancy was devastated.
'This is God's way of punishing me and Eduardo', said an inconsolable Nancy to her friend Irene.
Eduardo, now a sickly, frail man, looking years beyond his actual age, flew back to Portugal, accompanied by Nancy and his daughter, Ella.
Seemingly miraculously, after visiting a few doctors there, he slowly started to feel better. It took a year to fully recover.
He believed his illness was a sign to leave his acting career, so he abandoned his American dream. But the drumbeats of Africa were calling him. He was itching to return even if it meant selling fruit and vegetables for an income.
A few months later, Richard, their son was born. He was merely an infant when Eduardo headed back to Africa. He first made his way to the capital of Mozambique, Lourenço Marques, where he struggled to settle. He had heard that the pastures were a lot greener in the city of gold, Johannesburg. A few months later he took the railroad, constructed in the late 1800's by the Portuguese, to Pretoria, South Africa. Johannesburg, just thirty-three miles south, became his new home.
Life was tough. He had earned enough money to buy a little corner grocery store. Although it provided a good income, two years later he still hadn't saved enough money to provide his family with their own home and what he considered would be a comfortable life.
He befriended a gentleman called Zeca and they became lifelong friends. Zeca was involved with the development of a new hotel, the Carlton Centre. It was going to be fifty stories high, a real skyscraper by African standards.
Eduardo was exhilarated at the thought of this project and showed such a keen interest in it, that his friend Zeca casually asked him one day, 'Why don't you give up your grocery store and become a foreman?' 'A wonderful new venture for you and the pay is good', Zeca continued.
Eduardo knew it would be a remarkable opportunity, and although a challenge, he didn't deliberate. His answer was yes.
With the sale of his grocery store and a new fixed income, he now felt assured that it would take just one more year and then his family would be able to join him. And so it was.
Amidst great excitement Nancy, Ella and Richard arrived in Johannesburg on a beautiful spring day. The weather was perfect. Africa had crept into her soul and although not quite the same as the untamed beauty of Angola, Nancy was over the moon to be reunited with Eduardo.
He had left when the children were babies and now he had to get to know them all over again. Ella was now six and Richard nearly four. Nancy was gobsmacked by the size of the city. It was like a dream come true. Those three lonely tear filled years had finally come to an end.
One of the first sightseeing ventures on Nancy's arrival was a tour of the building site. The foundations had been laid and the large underground parkade was nearly complete. Ground floor level was in progress. The most exciting stop however, was a visit to the little home Eduardo had bought for his family. It was in need of some tender loving care but Nancy was ecstatic.
Eduardo reveled in his newfound love for the building trade and immediately got stuck into the alterations to transform his new home into his family's haven.
When it seemed as if life couldn't get any better, Nancy suddenly received a telephone call.
'Hello, is that Mrs Gelo?' asked the male voice on the other end, speaking in Nancy's mother tongue.
'Yes', said Nancy.
'I am afraid to say, Mrs Gelo, that your husband has been involved in a terrible accident'.
There was a deafening silence. 'Are you there, Mrs Gelo?'
There was no response. Nancy had collapsed onto the floor, sobbing.
A seven year old, Ella, had no idea what was happening. Seeing her mother in such a terrified state she ran outside to call a neighbor.
'Please come help my mommy', she cried.
The neighbor, who barely knew the family as they had only recently moved into the neighborhood, was met by Nancy crying uncontrollably. It took some time to explain the news she had just received. A few phone calls later the outcome did not seem good. The neighbor's husband, Alex, soon appeared on the scene offering to give Nancy a lift to whichever hospital Eduardo had been taken. Alex called the building site and managed to speak to one of the worker's who had witnessed the accident.
'Unfortunately sir, he fell three stories and landed on his back and the body was taken away,' said the witness.
Even though Nancy had been told her husband was dead, she was frantic to see him. She wanted to know exactly where he had been taken.
Nancy once again felt angst. Th at deep fear returned – was she being punished?
The phone rang again. It was the hospital. Eduardo had been taken there, unconscious and with a broken back.
It was an emotional rollercoaster! From dead to being alive – that's all that now mattered to Nancy. Young Ella was relieved to sense her mother's hope.
Excerpted from "A Mother's Sin"
Copyright © 2017 Mia Henry.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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