Overwhelmed by sorrow and guilt, Brieg's love helps her to get back on her feet. Then both work like Trojans to build themselves a new life. Unfortunately, when they start to forsee some light over their future, Mother Nature strikes again, leaving them with nothing: they had forgotten that their islands were places not to be trusted.
Desperate, Brieg migrates to their country's capital in search of a better life. Alas, caught up by big cities' vicissitudes, he and his newly born son are contaminated with HIV. This news causes him complete stupefaction for he never cheated on his wife; at least that's what he thinks. The couple blames their misfortunes on the typhoons and at the end of the day, Siana remains with no husband and no child.
Deeply revolted and firmly decided to carry out the fight against global warming her late husbands always wanted to initiate, Siana leaves their island and then their country in very curious circumstances. Once in Europe, she meets Casimir, a young African man thrown to the place neither by poverty nor by a cyclone but following a tragedy due to his country's own plagues.
Siana and Casimir's despair, anger and revolt meet, mix and blend, giving birth to two fiercely determined persons ready to fight their countries' scourges with all their might for, these in fact are world's scourges considering their impact and their magnitude.
However, beyond this common cause and common commitment to the society, given their so different backgrounds, cultures and life history, will the two young people be able to link their personal fates after acknowledging their love?
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By J. Mairy Dietch'
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 J. Mairy Dietch'
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Seated right on the mud left by the cyclone that ravaged their island the day before, Siana looked at Brieg, her husband, without seeing him. Having done some sorting around a hundred meters farther, he gathered what remained of their modest house: worn out slats, sheet steels of uneven sizes, brownish due to having been eaten away by bad weather, the wide slabs of braided straw now filled with water, which until the day before, was the pride of their living room: covering the ground, their motifs were of an incomparable delicacy. And then, miserably hanging on what used to be a door, there was this brass handle the gilt of which, now incongruous, clashed with the apocalyptic surrounding; and what to say then of this table leg, also encrusted with gilts! A table inherited from the owner of a neighboring island, the other elements of which should definitely not be looked for.
They had to get ready to leave, Brieg had told her, but leave for where, she had wondered. She was no longer even able to count the number of forced moves they had been required to make; these were cadenced by the hurricanes which pelted down on their region with a horrifying regularity. Their country, located somewhere in Asia, was known to be particularly exposed to them, but all the same! With the greatest tenderness, her husband had settled her there without caring about a mud which herself hardly noticed. He had then stroked her cheek and had whispered to her not to move. He would only need a little time to gather the remainder of their meager belongings scattered to the four winds, he had assured. He would soon return and they would go away.
On the river in front of Siana, a heap of pans sailed peacefully; it would have been difficult to believe that some little hours earlier, it had swelled in a spectacular way, exceeding its usual height by several meters, destroying everything on its way. She wondered which ones, in the middle of this jumble of utensils, could well be hers. And this is when she remembered the brand new mattress received from a NGO after the last typhoon which they had been victims of. She frowned, her eyebrows almost touching. But yes, she remembered, they owned a very beautiful mattress, which her husband and herself pampered quite particularly because they wished it to last as long as possible. With the gold encrusted table, it was among the most luxurious objects they had ever possessed.
Additionally, the young woman knew that connected to the mattress, there was something else, a thing which however had difficulty coming up to the light of her brain. In an intense effort to remember, she wrinkled her eyes of undefinable color: the nuances, ranging from the grey to the brown, were legion there. She knit her beautiful, full and perfectly shaped eyebrows a little more, which, this time, completely met. Nevertheless, nothing happened. Her memory seemed as willing to play tricks on her. Except that she was not presently inclined to playing riddles! she thought angrily. She had no desire to think about anything, therefore, too bad for this damned thing which she had forgotten! And, as immediately as her mind had brought her back to the famous mattress, she determinedly turned away from it, only promising herself to ask Brieg, upon his return, to go retrieve her pans in the middle of the river. She just hoped these would not have drifted too far already.
Contrary to previous times, the weather forecast services had not issued any particular warning regarding the imminence of a cyclonic phenomenon. They had barely recommended observing the usual advices. The inhabitants of Bwala had gone to bed, rocked by a fine rain. But during the night, it had turned into brutal precipitations, combined with winds of a never before seen violence. Surprised in their sleep, they had all found themselves under the stars, stripped of their clothes. Even their beds had given way under their bodies. And talking about bodies, dead bodies were lying almost everywhere: men, women, children. Many children and many women some of whom, protective until their last breath, still held their offspring tightly in their arms.
The men had quickly proceeded to burials. By means of dugouts or by swimming, they had brought back the bodies which floated above the water to dry land. They were used to these disasters and hardly lingered in lamentations. Their techniques of intervention were now well developed and, unintentionally, this way they spared outside help from the worst facet of the horror which descended upon them. Only after, did they tackle the collection of the residues of their few possessions.
Brieg and Siana found themselves married by their families when he was only sixteen years old, and she twelve. They had not even thought of rebelling: in their country, it was the rule. Children were married as soon as this was possible, for economic reasons and in order to avoid rapes and out of wedlock pregnancies, cause of great dishonor for families. This way, they got rid of a mouth to be fed as soon as they could while protecting themselves from the shame of having an unmarried mother in their home, even if this happened as result of sexual assault.
Because of extreme poverty, parents unable to keep paying for their schooling pulled their daughters out of school, often in favor of their boys. And whenever a girl stopped her studies, she was immediately considered ready to get married. Despite the legislation setting the minimum age at eighteen years old for the girls and twenty years old for the boys, families did as they pleased and falsified birth certificates were rife, corruption along with. It must be noted that none of this was really repressed.
Siana no longer even remembered the number of her miscarriages. At this specific moment, she did not remember if she had children or not; on the ground where she was still slumped, this seemed to be far from her concerns. And as soon as she saw her husband's silhouette outlined on the horizon, she jumped to her feet then ran towards him:
— Brieg, Brieg, look at my pans on the river, you have to hurry to get them! she shouted to him galloping breathlessly.
— What? What are you saying? her husband shouted in return.
They were too far from each other and couldn't hear themselves. But Siana covered the distance which separated them like a lightning bolt and grabbed onto Brieg's arm like a madwoman, almost knocking down the pile of sheet metals which he was carrying on his head.
— My pans Brieg, my pans! she repeated pointing her index finger in the direction of the river and all her limbs shaking. You have to rush to get them back, they will soon disappear! You see, I have a lot of them, I definitely do not want to lose them, she insisted.
The man gazed at his wife wide-eyed. He did not understand her. In reality, he understood her less and less. To start with, all these pans did not belong to them. And then, he had been wondering for a long while when she was finally going to ask about Austin, their only child. Actually, at first, he had been happy about it for this delayed the ordeal for him to announce her the death of their little angel of only five years old, carried away by the waves, but presently, he was getting seriously worried about his wife's attitude since the typhoon occurred. She had not uttered a single word since their brutal awakening, and there she was suddenly becoming hysterical about ridiculous pans which nothing guaranteed a single one was theirs.
After the loss of his only son, was he going to inherit a crazy woman on top of it? he wondered the throat tightened by grief.
Much had been seen on their island in the course of natural disasters, but generally, the first thing mothers demanded were their children, and not common kitchen utensils. On the verge of getting angry, Brieg yet restrained. He took Siana by the hand and told her:
— Come, Darling, stop worrying! I will get your pans as soon as I'll put these sheet metals on the bank, OK?
Like a little girl, she agreed, reassured. They walked up to the small pile Brieg had formed with their belongings and, he barely lowered his load that she began harassing him again. He had to draw deep in his being the necessary restraint not to tell her to go to hell. The man understood not her indifference for their boy and he was angry at her because of it. He also became angry at her in retrospect for the countless miscarriages she had had and which had deprived him of plentiful offspring which, contrary to many, he desired; and she too, by the way.
Tormented by suffering, they had discussed this issue together numerous times. Brieg knew quite well that the body of his sweet better-half, in spite of its beautiful curves and proportions, remained a child's body: it was not prepared to welcome babies within it. His poor wife was too young, way too young, he used to admit. And besides their physical impact, these interrupted pregnancies caused her a profound trauma. So many times had he felt guilty seeing her prostate for weeks, crying heartbreakingly after each episode. However, currently blinded by pain, he put the blame on her for all their misfortune. She was nothing but an incompetent, he muttered inwardly, the worst kind ill-luck bringer! he decreed again. He was this close to throwing it to her face, but stopped in time. You should not make more difficult situation which is already difficult enough, he decided.
Brieg went up in one of the rare dugouts left intact and, cursing again in spite of the wise resolution made a minute earlier, he paddled in the direction of the pans. Suddenly, his anger fell: maybe with the pans he would fish out his son's body, he thought. But immediately, a disillusioned smile stretched his lips: those swallowed by the river were rarely found, and if they were, this was far, very by far from there. He pushed away this irrational hope and, one after the other, he lifted the pans in his boat. Resigned, he returned to the bank where his wife welcomed him as if he had just brought her back the most beautiful of diamonds. Her eyes shone with pleasure, a beaming smile revealed her attractive set of teeth, she jumped into the boat and curled up against him. He held her in his arms with all his strength while their neighbors, each from his heap of rubble, looked at them with pity: Siana had lost the only child she had ever been able to bring into the world, and many hours later, she had still not realized it.
— Poor woman, one of them murmured.
The night had fallen on Brieg and Siana, still tight one to other in the dugout. Its owner would have liked to begin taking his belongings up to the island where, with the rest of the community, he thought of settling back down, but he did not have the heart to disturb the poor souls in their mourning. Nobody here had been spared, but their case was among the saddest. Nobody was unaware that Siana held the record for miscarriages on the island and all knew how much they adored this son.
In the early hours, the maneuvers of the humanitarian boats that had come to move the victims of Bwala woke the unlucky spouses. They looked at each other and smiled. Brieg hoped that the night's darkness, by a paradoxical miracle, had shone a light into his wife's memory. He settled his eyes in her grey-green-blue – brown iris, in search of a sign, of a word, the only one word which, he thought, would help him to say goodbye: "AUSTIN". Sadly, nothing came. A lump formed in his throat. Slowly, he got up, raised her up, and, with slow pace, they walked to their sparse belongings: they would soon load them to a new life on the gleaming red cross ship which had just docked; an umpteenth new life, without Austin ... And Siana was still smiling.CHAPTER 2
Fifteen days later, Brieg and Siana had settled down in their new house as best as they could. In the islands, the victims were in the habit of moving together and settle in the same place to preserve the group they formed before so that to maintain their social cohesion. The greater the distance to the river was, the greater the moving fees they owed their new landlord were. After repeated disasters, their community did not have the means to migrate very far, and it is a few cable lengths away from the place of their tragedy that all settled their meager bindle.
If this precaution had spared their purse, they were however going to endure there the corresponding inconveniences for the remainder of their existence ... unless another cyclone, moving them somewhere else, came to put an end to it: in fact, besides the usual moving in fees, payable immediately or in installment, Mr. Rafael, the owner of the lands where they had wound up, had required them to take care of his cattle and his plantations daily, and for them to pay him a tenth of their own harvests. As they couldn't afford to be picky, they had given in to these weighty demands and Mr. Rafael had rubbed his hands together in satisfaction. Typhoon "Nora" had just offered him a free workforce unhoped-for after the unprecedented movement of revolt at the end of which almost all of his previous tenants had ditched him without warning. They, preferring the poverty of the cities to his slavery methods, had left two months earlier.
Therefore, he had been looking for weeks for families to repopulate his plot of land in vain; nobody seemed interested. Even the exceptionally low rates he offered convinced no one. News travelled fast here, and his infamy must have circulated around the neighborhood ages ago. He then became worried that he had made himself a detestable reputation for forever, which would hinder the proper functioning of his gigantic farm. Cornered, he swore to revise his methods. Maybe he was actually too harsh, "a nasty slave driver" as he had had it thrown in his face by the crowd of rebelled employees, whom he branded as deserters. "It must be said that I have gone too far with these people" he had said to himself afterward, I have behaved like an all-powerful general at the head of a herd of submissive soldiers!", he had admitted.
Alas, when the horde of Bwala's exhausted individuals had showed up, giving the impression of having been around the planet ten times without having drunk the slightest drop of water, the man had not been able to resist the temptation to do it again. He knew how to spot people at the end of their rope. "I smell them even from a distance!", he had rejoiced even before the unfortunates opened their mouths. He had guessed quite rightly that before walking through his door, the poor guys and their families had gone to a lot of neighboring farms which had refused to welcome them. And he suspected that the reason was the insufficiency of their funds. He would find a solution for them, him! he had exclaimed, jubilating deep down in his heart. A golden solution! he congratulated himself again while the newcomers stared at him with imploring eyes, filled with anxiety and hope.
Like a fine powder, his regrets had disappeared and his good resolutions had flown away. Apparently, the rich landowner had great difficulty getting rid of the evils of profiteering and opportunism; these seemed to only make one with his vile being. The lure of profit had immediately gained the upper hand in the face of these men and these women distraught, f lanked by lean children whose paleness moved him not one bit. He had understood at first sight that they were ready to accept anything in exchange for the tiniest patch of land to settle.
Without qualms, he had grabbed the bills which were passing from their trembling hands to his, conscious that these were the totality of their modest savings. Paradoxically, gratitude and respect accompanied their movements, while they were about to alienate themselves for a long time, for a very long time. They were completely lucid as to that fact, but what could they have done about it? The lips of their interlocutor stretched in an endless smile; he felt powerful. "One has to believe that some people's misfortune is other's happiness", he had said to himself, very satisfied with his new exploit.
One day, in the afternoon, exhausted by their hard day in the farm, Brieg and Siana were seated on a mat in front of their house; they were eating their first meal since morning. Indeed, out of bed at dawn, they had begun by milking the cows, then had fed them. Moving the animals gradually, they had cleaned the numerous cowsheds of the farm from top to bottom: Mr. Rafael, obsessive over cleanliness, was capable of f lying into a rage for a straw lying about in a trough. It had not stopped there, Brieg had emptied the rice fields full of salt water in preparation for the next harvests, which would begin two weeks later. Meanwhile, Siana had made off to take care of their small kitchen garden and prepare their meal.
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