[portfolio: vamos.com.sg email: foocheechang@gmail.com phone: +65 9622 9024 twitter: foocheechang]

children of light

i was looking through ‘terra: struggle of the landless‘ – an album of images depicting the destitution of brazil’s landless, shot by legendary photographer sebastiao salgado, when i came across this accompanying poem by chico buarque. this particular stanza spoke really strongly to me:

“they no longer remember
that there’s a brejo da cruz*
that they used to be children
and once fed on light”

* i translated this and got ‘heath of the cross’, which i am guessing refers to the pastoral landscape, a vast expanse of green, and of memories and laughter.

it so happened that at that moment i was on board a westbound mrt train, and those 6 carriages are not exactly the places where things of inspiration and poignance are found. but it is amazing how sometimes moments come together in a serendipitous symphony.

the train had just burst out from the underground into the bright sunlight, and it was in that few seconds when the pupil of the eye is constricted that i looked up from the book and took in the scene – a little boy and a little girl, both probably no older than 5, were leaping up and down, trying to grab the handholds that were obviously out of their limited reach. i remember the look of pure delight on their faces when they succeeded. when they did not, they even found occasion to laugh – at each other. they looked like they could go at it for hours.

then i looked around, expecting the adults in the carriage to display their disapproval at the noise and the folly. but nothing registered on their faces, other than the lifeless, unsmiling stoicism that they have had on as long as i could recall. the brilliance of unfettered joy, juxtaposed against a stark collection of dark countenances.

i didn’t have to search far to discover what was behind those faces. i simply looked inwards.

for more on my thoughts, click here.


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