In the slums of the far-flung
area of Sao Paulo, where she lived, the sunrays had to jostle to penetrate.
Even the pre-dawn glow failed to reach her ‘Favela’. She always woke up to her
father’s scream, and that day was no different. ‘Alanza, get up fast, you keep
sleeping like a buffalo day and night. She staggered towards the churrasco as
his scream echoing in her head.
For Alanza, dawn would start for
her with lighting the coal in the churrasco. Since the age of ten, she has been
practicing making more than twenty bread and a vegetable dish every morning for
her parents and her three brothers, who all were daily wagers. She would
meticulously wrap their day’s meal in the newspaper, keeping her surge of
desire under the wrap!
She was not even three when her
parents would leave her along with her brothers to fight hunger, pricks of
flies and insects, the harshness of weather and multiple bacterial and viral
infections. Soon her brothers picked up part-time jobs, and her drudgery
increased many folds. She started cleaning utensils and filth around her at the
age of five; as she turned ten, she was well equipped to make meals for the
whole family as well. Due to heavy workload, loneliness and monotony she
succumbed to torpor. She would often spend her entire day in the darkness of
That day when everyone left for
the work, she walked about two kilometres to catch a glimpse of the nearby
school. It was her earnest desire to be inside the walls of the classroom, but
she never even got the opportunity to be the other side of the school gate. She
dreamt that everything is good. That her parents can buy a house away from the
slum and her brother would have the things they wanted. She dreamt of becoming
a gymnast and also studying at school to become a teacher.
After her parents and brothers
left, Alanza went to meet her friend Giovanna outside the school. Since she was
five years old, Alanza used to stand outside the school gate some mornings. One
day, a pretty little girl called Giovanna stopped and asked her what she was
doing there and why didn’t she come inside the school. She told her she was
really poor and did not have enough money to attend school. Giovanna told her
she was lovely and wished she had a little sister like her. From that day
Giovanna and Alanza became best of friends.
She knew Giovanna arrived at
school at 8 am and spoke to her for 10 minutes before going inside.
She hastened her pace as the
dark clouds began to gather in the sky. Up to now, the sky had been
picture-perfect, but it was transforming. The beautiful aqua-blue shade was
beginning to darken into silvery-ash. Large cushions of cloud were forming,
staining out the saffron-yellow colour of the sun.
She got the first splash of rain
when she was the three-quarters way to the school. The rain poured so heavily
that even the cars and buses headlights could not infiltrate the thick sheet of
water pouring from the sky. Water collected more speedily than it went down the