António 1959

Rio de Janeiro
Porto Seguro
Youth Worker
Salesman for a Tour Operator
Guest House Manager
Bank Clerk

MAY 1970: When I come home from school at lunchtime, my little sister is in hospital. The diagnosis: cerebral malaria. By the evening she is lying in a coma and the next day at sunrise her wild and free soul flies away from us forever.

APRIL 1972: Easter Sunday in Rio de Janeiro at a restaurant on Ipanema beach. Suddenly my father leans over me. I think he is trying to pick something up off the floor between the chairs. I look at my mother and her eyes, full of panic and pain reveal to me that something bad has happened. She helps me to lay him down on the floor. My father dies of a heart attack.

JUNE 1974: Three school friends persuade me to come with them. She is lying there naked and her tits are huge. I am short and thin and when I lie down on top of her I feel like I'm on a water bed. I don't know how to start but she is patient. After a couple of minutes I leave the straw hut and think: was that sex?

FEBRUARY 1975: She is new to our school and very beautiful. I start writing poems and from time to time I give them to her.

MARCH 1975: My friends are Europeans, Indians and Africans who all think of themselves as Mozambicans – a nationality which does not exist at this time. "Make love not war" makes our youth easier in times of the Cold War in Africa. We try various drugs and dance to Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones.

OCTOBER 1975: My mother cries and says: "Each of us can pack a suitcase with 25 kilos, everything else we have to leave behind. I’d rather go to Brazil with you than lose another child in Mozambique." – "Are we refugees now, mother?" – "Yes, but we’re alive."

FEBRUARY 1987: With great joy I run a guest house in Porto Seguro with 24 rooms. A Swiss woman comes as a guest and instead of travelling on, she stays.

JANUARY 1988: Arrival in Switzerland. After fifteen years in Mozambique and fifteen years in Brazil it is not easy living in Europe. In the beginning the Swiss strike me as conservative, arrogant and secretive.

SEPTEMBER 1988: At my first job in Switzerland my colleagues and bosses all speak to me in broken German: "You this do, you that look, you here work." They are not bad people, but it is insulting and makes me sad.

DECEMBER 1996: After the end of a long war, I can finally revisit the town where I was born after twenty-one years. I meet family members and friends again as an adult who I left behind as a teenager.