Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A shadowbox for Maré

I shadowbox, a lot, in the park plaza outside of my apartment. I shadowbox when I don’t make it to the gym. Sometimes the schedules don’t match up, sometimes I’m just lazy. This time it’s because I can’t go there, the nature of the situation won’t let me. 

I’m getting updates from my students over Facebook. It's a bit strange for me, but I guess this is the norm in the age of the internet. They tell me about the situation in Maré, about the shots that have been fired all day, about the police coming to their homes and that they don’t understand why. They’re twelve, these kids.

One of them tells me he read in the news that there were over four hundred BOPE officers in the community today, insists I watch this one station for updates, REDE RECOR. I flip through my television and I tell him I can’t find it. I’m watching Cidade Alerta instead. He gives an "umph" and tells me they don’t cover the real news. I smirk at the reply. Sharp kid, this one.

My photography student Raynne keeps asking about our next lesson. I tell him to plan for our field trip to the Sebastião Salgado exposition on the 11th of next month, but I begrudgingly have to add, “...if I can go pick you up.” 

He asks what we’ll be studying in our next session, asks if I'll have time to maybe come give a lesson this Thursday. I find it funny and sad at the same time. Funny that despite the circumstances, all he can think about is photography. Sad that I don’t know what to tell him. I really don't know when I'll be able to go back. When he wonders how long this will go on or how it will end, I try to play big brother and tell him that this will pass, and that we will go to Jardim Botanico to see Salgado, but what the fuck do I know? I'm not the one that lives there. 

I’ve always felt that dance is an offering, a prayer, if you will, and the shadowbox is the fighter’s dance. It is the ritual we perform to honor the sport, and shadowboxing alone in a ring is probably one of the most sacred rituals I've ever done in my life. But my legs have been hurting for the past week and I can’t really bend my left knee. When I try to perform an offering for those in Maré, for the kids that couldn’t go to the gym, for all those that fell, on either side, everything feels awkward, uneven. Pain stabs into my knee when my foot hits the ground. I’m a wounded dancer stumbling on one leg. 

Maré is wounded now. The total count is nine - two from the police, seven from the community. But the numbers don't really matter in the end. Nobody ever wins in these wars. I think the community will heal, be back in prime form in due time. A true fighter always returns. But you never know when a fighter's last day is upon them, when they're forced to hang em up and give up the dance. All I can give now is half a prayer, and hope the rest works itself out in the end.

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