First it was mint, then watercress… then came the coriander. The mint lost its glamour when I moved it to a new pot. It became shorter with smaller leaves. In the corridor, I contemplated ‘watercress’, it had flat leaves that seemed to spread well on the ground. The coriander was slim and yellowish, but it happened that most of the time, I stopped to water it, it was looking towards the sun.
Compared to the watercress, the coriander was not breaking spaces; it seemed to be rather on its own, yearning for the sun. Worried about the coriander, I found myself watering it more, touching its leaves.
Of the few things I have planted in England- mint, lilies, cactus- I said to myself- it is the coriander that I have enjoyed the most.
I was not sure if such a ‘revelation’ had anything to do with me going up that hill. I was looking a lot to the weeds, small bushes and inspecting the grass. Was I looking for ‘a revelation’, something like a lost coin, a plant ‘that is the most beautiful of all’, an extraordinary precious stone? I still don’t know what exactly I was doing there. I was listening to that song.
It was about two lovers who separated and became friends. It was dark and bitter- let us say 70% cocoa. It was in my playlist; and when I listened to it on the way to Bom Jesus, I could not let it go. Each time, I would listen to a part of another song, get the mobile out of my pocket and select the song again. But after a while, I submitted, I selected; ‘play current song only’.
As I reached the top, where the church was, one thing I was curious to know if I was the only person who was here alone; all around, there were friends and a few couples. I got relief in seeing a man-his back to me- taking photographs of the church. He would soon be joined by another man. I said I would celebrate coming here alone. I left my backpack on a bench; and took a photo of it, the caption in my mind read ‘at the highest point of Braga’. I discovered a garden next to the church. In front of me a woman holding a broom, and at a distance, there was a fountain that was not working. I was still listening to the same song.
On my way back, it was the Beatles song (things changed, you know!)- this song where a man is surrounded by a crowd, I woud imagine a clown, blindfold, in a circle.
Had I said before that ‘I am weak in front of the tambourine’? As I walked, ‘two-foot small’ would rhyme as ‘fruit’ (please, do not ask how); I remembered plastic fruit that we used to have; women in belly dancing suits were tapping their feet-with bangles- on the floor; making the sound of the tambourine. I am sure, if I just carried on something would show up eventually. ‘Excuse me, excuse me, I would like to go to Giza Square? Yeah the Pyramids, making a triangle with my hands’. I crossed the road.
When I came back from the hostel, the secretary knocked on my door and handed me the flowers and an envelope. I felt like a man handed in a baby for the first time. I told her ‘I don’t think I need a vase’. But she brought one. With a bashful smile, I stood beside the window; my eyes fell upon the fence of the nursery opposite the hostel. ‘I would like to talk to my mother now’. I remembered I cannot use my British number. I dreamt if I can draw a path that would take me directly to the ramp in our house- just to have a cup of tea with her, tell her that I got flowers for my birthday, and come back to work on my presentation.
This was the first international conference I would present at. It is (and stay away please) C.A.D.A.D. I had to do well in it- build a path to the pyramids in our house in Portugal. I contemplated the flowers.
To skip forward, the conference would eventually end, and I would leave the flowers behind (and was there a way that I could carry them back or make them live longer?).
One day later, I was lost in thoughts about my presentation, attending presentations by others, asking myself if I would do well. In my queer thoughts, I was standing in a room; tangled up in wires, with people holding miniature robots, all around. Like a drawing for me by my niece that I carried from London to Lancaster to Portugal, the flowers were literally protecting me, as images, faces and spaces alternated.