In this one book you will receive two stories. Mind you, not two independent stories, the first and the second, the first and the last. These two stories intertwine and get closer and closer.
In one story you will read about two men, an old man Tuahir and a young boy Muidinga. They have escaped or left a refugeecamp in wartorn Mozambique. They stumble upon a bus that has been burnt due to an accident or a shooting or another disaster. They move into the bus and consider it their home, albeit a temporary one.
Near the bus they find an abandoned suitcase, in the suitcase are left a couple of notebooks, in it is written by Kindzu, who writes the story of his life. A story with the obvious and the unobvious, his background, a journey on the seas, the meeting with an illustrious lady.
Muidinga reads history in the notebooks aloud. He is able to read and speak. The old man Tuahir is able to listen. These two refugees in search of their future meet the past of this enigmatic Kindzu. Everyday they find time to get involved in Kindzu’s life, while they struggle with their own one.
They take part in the story, Muidinga recognizes himself in one of the missing relatives of Kindzu, for he does not know his own story, his own background. He has been ripped of his past, struggles with his present and has no clue about his future.
There is more to the stories that Mia Couto has woven. We encounter traditional leftovers, presentday marxism, a colonial world on the wane. All these ingredients have been woven till you have a toxic mix of past, present, and future, set on a bleak canvas.
“The living and the dead and those who walk on water”, Couto quotes the long dead Greek philosopher Plato, who divided manhood into three groups. We meet all three of them in this novel. The sleeping and the waking. The waking walk through the landscape. The sleeping notice at daybreak that the landscape has changed, the landscape has been walking while they slept. They live in an ever changing landscape, where the boundaries between sleep and awake are blurred.
Keep your eyes wide open when you read this book!
Mia Couto – Terra Sonâmbula – 1992