For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Nhinguitimo”

Luis Bernardo Honwana

Excerpt

The pigeon's flight is essentially practical — it sacrifices the grace of a pirouette or the sweep of a curve to the necessity of arriving more quickly. No-one remembers seeing a pigeon intoxicated by the caress of the wind, as often happens to the swallow; no-one can affirm that, like the vulture, the pigeon indulges himself in the sensual pleasure of gliding through the dense blue of space with his wings unfurled; surely, too, no-one ever heard of a pigeon spending a whole morning combing his stomach for lice, fluffing out his chest, and smoothing his feathers, as the lazy secua goose does. 

With his little black eyes always vigilant, the pigeon journeys along the carpet of grain, and returns punctually every year, a few weeks before the beginning of the harvest. He reproduces himself when he is away, then he comes back, and as time passes, calmly grows fatter. Fatter and darker.

His song, which has no time to be musical, is thoroughly sad — a sort of hoarse aggressive complaint. Sometimes, being so monotonous, it is telling and nostalgic. Never, however, poetic or digressing — it is always horribly direct. Singing, the pigeon does not lament, as many other birds do: it accuses. It saddens the valley. It makes the intense green of the fields inappropriate, and the vivid blue of the sky insipid.