By António Lobo Antunes
Quatro personagens contam a sua história popular, que se funde quer na história dos últimos anos do domínio colonialista português, quer na dos primeiros anos da independência e na guerra civil que se seguiu em Angola. A miragem do esplendor de Portugal evocado no título esboroa-se na desagregação da família, pondo a nu os seus defeitos e as suas fraquezas.
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Some of them, who weren't class conscious, kept their mouths shut; but the young Cossacks who'd spent some time in the Red Army said : 'And about time too! No need to vote. . ' "The old men standing at the back opposed this at first, but I used my tongue to good purpose to propagandize them, and they all agreed with me that the Soviet government's our nursing mother and we must all cling categorically to her skirts. "The meeting sent a document to the District Executive Committee, asking them to issue us rifles and cartridges, and appointed me and the secletary Nikon to ride to the district centre.
The food requisitioning detachment retired into the heart of the district. Bodyagin and the tribunal commandant Teslenko remained in the village a further twenty-four hours. They stayed on to despatch the last wagon loads of grain to the receiving point. In the early morning a storm blew up. It raged, it smoked, it lashed the village with a white mist of snow. Late in the afternoon a dozen or so horsemen galloped into the square. The alarm bell went rattling out over the village sunk in snow-drifts.
But the calves went on dying, and with every day the herd grew smaller and smaller. Grisha began to notice that the graves had been roughly dug up and opened; gnawed bones were lying not far from the spot, and the herd grew restless and fearful at night. In the silence of the night a savage howl suddenly broke out, and the herd tore about the yard. Smashing down the fencing, the calves made their way in little groups to the shanty. They slept close to the fire, breath ing heavily and chewing their cud.