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28/08/2018 / hbrowne4

Seven Trickles Of Water by Heloisa Prieto

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Translated by Ellen Heyward

Once upon a time, a boy was found at the edges of an igarapé. A beautiful, chubby, smiley baby left there for someone to love.
In that part of the Brazilian state of Pará, most women had dark skin and very dark eyes. With the baby’s blonde hair and eyes the color of water, many young women wanted to adopt him. A wet nurse was put in charge of looking after the baby while all the mothers fought over him.
After much arguing in the village, the boy’s nurse, who already considered herself his mother, felt a long trickle of water flow through her hands, and she had an idea, declaring:
“The baby will choose his own mother. The house where the baby is happiest will be his home”
As soon as she said these words, the baby waved his little hand to another young woman. The nurse had to hand him over so as not to contradict herself.
The second mother was very young. Her baby boy had died in his sleep, but she had kept the cradle, the bedroom, the embroidered clothes.
The baby with water-colored eyes smiled when she picked him up. As soon as she lay him down in his cradle, he fell soundly asleep. Before, where longing and sadness had taken over the young woman’s house, now it was filled again with colors and happiness.
The young woman and her husband had grown apart during their suffering, but their love for the water baby brought them back together. Each moment of the day was a happy one for the mother: the time to feed her wonderful baby, the time to sit with him in the morning sun, and most of all, the time to bathe him.
The baby loved water above all things. He would laugh and play in the bathtub, splashing water in the air, making beautiful little rainbows.

2

With all that happiness, the mother fell pregnant again,and so the first birthday celebrations of the igarapé boy were twice as festive. To everyone’s great surprise, after the water baby blew out his first candle, he clambered onto the lap of another young mother, and no one could take him from her.
The young pregnant mother grew jealous and tried to wrench him from the other woman’s lap. The second mother had fallen in love with the baby and she fled to the courtyard, trying to keep him close. When the two mothers confronted each other, a small trickle of water flowed through the pregnant mother’s hair, and she realized though her new son the water baby had brought her much happiness, her time with him was over.
“Why would he want a third mother?”, the second mother thought to herself.
The third mother took the boy home with her. Unlike the second mother’s house, hers was full of children. She had become a widow when she was very young.Her husband had died in a boat accident.
Just like before, with the arrival of the new baby, the happiness grew inside the house. Joy made the young widow’s wrinkles disappear, her hair shine and her eyes sparkle. In no time, she had a line of suitors asking for her hand.
The widow chose a good husband: honest, kind and hard-working. And at the wedding party, lo and behold, the water baby, who had now grown into a little boy, chose another mother’s lap. And no one could pull him away from her.
“Why does he want a fourth mother?”, the third mother thought to herself.
The two mothers squabbled, but when they were really starting to argue, a trickle of water flowed down the arm of the widow, and she simply handed the little boy over to the other young woman.
The fourth mother did not have any children yet. Her husband loved her very much, but the young woman deeply missed her mother, who had died when she was very young.
Once more, the little boy filled the house with joy. The couple loved to see him taking his first steps, saying his first words and eating off a beautiful little silver spoon.
While happiness filled the house of the young orphan mother, a sweet old lady came to the village. Her eyes were kind and she had skillful hands. The old lady and the fourth mother met at the market and immediately became friends, deciding to help each other. As time went by, they became so close that everyone thought they were mother and daughter.

3

On the water boy’s birthday, there were plenty of sweets at the party, the cake was the most fluffy, delicious cake that anyone had ever tasted. Suddenly, the boy jumped onto a fifth mother’s lap.
The fifth mother was not well-regarded in the village. Full of mysteries and always casting magic spells, she would wander in the moonlight and pick herbs in the woods. People said she knew more secrets than she should.
When the boy went to live at her house, the mother of mysteries made little toys for him: small cars and animals for her son to play with.
Watching the water boy play was pure joy. He would take a bag to the middle of the street, spread out his toys and there wasn’t a child in the village who didn’t covet them.
Over time, parents started buying the fifth mother’s handmade toys. She crafted them with such love that she won over all the children’s hearts. Delighted by the miniature castles, horses and princesses, even the parents started to respect her.
On the water boy’s birthday, the mother of mysteries decided to put on a play, so all the children could show their parents just how creative they were.
The show was a huge success, and at the end there was a big party. While everyone was congratulating the mother of mysteries, the boy ran to another person’s side.
Crying, the fifth mother knew what was going to happen to her.

4

She kneeled before the boy as water trickled down her face. The boy pointed to all the people surrounding him. She knew her time with him was over, that happiness had come into her life. She hugged the boy and gave him to the sixth mother.
At the water boy’s sixth mother’s house, lived a boy who no one in the village understood. Even though he was the son of a happy couple, the boy would hit people when he meant to hug them, be silent when he wished to speak, and utter words that were exactly the opposite of what he wanted to express.
Even though the sixth mother told all the children in the village that her son had a good heart, they avoided him, and the boy grew up friendless and alone.
Shortly after the water boy moved into the other boy’s house, however, things started to improve. If his brother hit him, the water boy would give him a big hug. If the boy said aggressive things, the water boy would respond with giggles, and when he was silent, the water boy would provoke him until he spoke.
The friendship between the two brothers grew so strong that other children started to draw near. Nobody had as many fun games as those two. After a few months, the village children started to accept the clumsy ways of the boy and understood what he meant when he spoke in “the language of opposites”.

5

During a local football match, the clumsy boy scored a lot of goals and was carried on the shoulders of the village children. It was in that exact moment that his water-eyed brother left.
No one ever really knew when or how he disappeared. It was only known that he walked in the direction of the same igarapé where he had been found. But to this day in that little village in the state of Pará, it is said that the night the boy left, all who had met him and every child in the village dreamed exactly the same dream at the same time.
In the dream, the seven-year old boy walked towards the roots of a tree, and from the water rose his real mother. She was beautiful with a slender, elegant body, golden eyes and shiny hair like multicolored water trickles. The water mother hugged the water boy, the strands of her long hair wrapping around him like living vines, and they both disappeared, leaving behind only a beautiful trace of happiness.

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