Thursday, September 07, 2006

Who am I?

I’m 32 years old and I am a soldier. I’ve always been in fights since I was a little kid, to the point of not knowing how to live differently. Whenever I have doubts or get confused, whenever my senses or emotions send given chemical signs to my brain I shoot. I never think things over. I was programmed to take cover quickly and shoot, and already did it to all kinds of people, young and old. It’s not a moral thing and it’s quite easy for I’ve always been in fights, amidst screams, pain and purposeless violence. I dress in forest green and I’m mean.

Every time I travel I do it alone, through fields and meadows, forests, mountains, deserts and sea, carrying all my weapons in me, and I do feel deadly and kind, and I do feel clean and dirty, pure, sinful, mighty and a child. And no one ever sees me coming, passing, going away. I exist in silence where my body is and breathe through some different body I once dreamt I had somewhere.

In my long journeys, sometimes, I enjoy blowing soap bubbles in the breeze and see them suspended in the air. I do it since I was a very little soldier. It’s a way to keep track of the way back home, and that’s why I’m never lost.

Some years ago, though, I thought I had started imagining things! I really thought I was losing it when I took hold of my weapons and started shooting randomly everywhere. The problem was that I started to see, reflected in my soap bubbles, the image of a woman behind me, staring at the back of my head, watching me closely, as if judging me. My blood froze but my body responded as programmed. I turned around quickly and shot, but there was nothing to shoot at! I don’t know why I was frightened, but I really was, and I’ve told you how I react under pressure or stress! On the other hand, she was so beautiful and peaceful!

This kept happening and every time it fascinated and scared me more, until one day, while crossing a dark forest, I saw something white amidst the leaves and bushes! Very slowly and silently I went closer and closer to look. And there she was lying, naked, on a fallen rotten tree – white body over dark green – the woman of my soap bubbles! I went even closer, scared, not breathing through my body but through some other one. She had her eyes closed and was very peaceful, as if sleeping, as if waiting, her chest making slow rhythmic movements up and down. I went to her side and realized she was the one who breathed for me! That made me really confused, and when confused I am programmed to shoot, so I went for my weapon and aimed at her head with a steady arm. Although confused I was about to pull the trigger, I was about to shoot her dead, but then she opened her eyes and slowly turned her head in my direction. Then I saw inside her eyelids. Only then I saw, as if I had always been blind, and what I saw was much too beautiful to put in words! I saw myself with the blue sky behind me! A blue sky with some sparse white clouds, like cotton. Everything inside those blue eyes was magnificent, bright and peaceful.

Then both my hands where attracted to the ground, and my weapons fell over the dry leaves and dust. I felt so tired. Suddenly I was on my knees beside her, facing the dirt, her left hand caressing my head and tears dripping from my chin. Was I a defeated soldier? I surrendered my weapons. Had my fight ended? Not being what I always had been left me facing the question of who I really was. Left me facing emptiness and lack of purpose. Then something strange came into my mind and I whispered, “I breathe in you!” She nodded as if agreeing, smiled, and gently pulled my head towards her. My face touched her skin – and it burned –, I laid it over her stomach and felt both my hands disappearing in her, melting with her white skin like ice cream dropped on the sand in an August afternoon, and must have fallen asleep because there’s nothing more I can remember.

When I woke up it was already dark and cold. The owls were watching me from nearby branches and I had marks on the skin of my right cheek from falling asleep over a tree. I was alone but had this strange ring in a finger and a scar in my chest I’ve never had noticed before. I was alone, freezing, and felt strange. Suddenly I became dizzy and must have passed out because I only remember being morning again and waking full of aches in my body and dead leaves clinging to my bloody self. Every part of me was hurting deeply, and I dragged myself over the ground into a nearby water stream to plunge my face in the cold water. The fresh water in the face and hair came as a shock, because I didn’t realized how bruised the face was and how bloody my hair had been. The stream became red, but it felt good. “What had happened to me?” I thought. Was it a fight?

Only then I opened my eyes to look around, to see this world again, and eventually I faced my image in the water to see the damage. That was when it all happened! That was when the whole world changed! That was when day became night and night became something like a uterus! I shouted out loud, got up jumping and cried like a little kid while running in circles bumping into trees and falling down. I collapsed into the ground and covered my face with my dirty hands. “Who am I?” I kept shouting while crawling. My eyes were now blue, and now I was the one who breathed! I was she; she was I, we where one or something close to it. My body had changed completely…

I stayed in the ground until next day once again, I think, trembling with fever. Amidst convulsions I remember strange thoughts taking over my mind, losing sense of direction and throwing up. I thought of soap bubbles suspended in the air. I remembered mum and dad young again, my dog Nadir, huge waves... I dreamt with women dressed completely in black, faces covered, walking slowly on a beach of very white sand at dusk. I experienced pain and pleasure at once, like morphine. Give it to me! At the same time I was hoping for it all to be just a dream I was feeling really good. It’s not easy to explain. I stayed like that in the ground for the night, trying to figure out my name, my meaning, until falling in a deep sleep.

Early in the morning I got up, brushed my hair using my hands as combs, stretched my new body to make the final adjustments of my soul to it, and picked up my weapons from the ground. I stared for a moment at the sky with my new blue bright eyes, feeling my new long blond hair in my neck and face and adjusting my guns to my hips.
I’m 32 and I am a soldier. I’ll dress in forest green and act mean.

(Photography: Murtinheira – Portugal, August 27th, 2006 / Text: Coimbra – Portugal, September 2nd, 2006)

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