Dawn loves walking. This morning she is so tired. The sun is already piercing through the leaves at 6 a.m. and it turns her nature eyes to gems. The laughter of sweating boys in sport shorts, comfortable tennis shoes and bare chests as they kick a ball is so mesmerising that Dawn forgets her fatigue.
She remembers the days when boys screamed death as they were being separated from their mothers, on the way from the Bassin des Esclaves to the slave market in Pamplemousses.
Suddenly a scream in the cité. The ball misses the kick and is still on the ground as the boys hasten to the scene. Dawn follows them. On the steps of her home, a woman is trying to revive her drug-addicted son. He is raving. All are like statues. The mother feels so helpless as she cannot save her second teenage son. She feels the weight of death like an iron collar with protruding hooks. A small reverent crowd has gathered. Nature has stopped breathing as death steals youth, oblivious of a mother’s grief. Dawn is shocked to see so much pain among human beings. Yet despite the pain, there is the warmth of an ancient bond linking them. This bond is so similar to the one that linked the animals, which had lived on this island centuries ago.
Pain clouding her vision, Dawn loses her way and fi nds herself at Rose Hill bus station. The sun is like dynamo even this early in the morning. There are passengers waiting at different bus stops. There is something beautiful about everybody. There is solidarity in the wait and in the struggle to earn one’s bread. As she clutches the metal handrail and closes her nature eyes, she muses: “This must have been a beautiful place!” When she reopens them, they meet sweating, empty soft drink half-litre and one litre plastic bottles squeezed at the back of the offi ce of the red bus transport company. The bottles have some empty and quarter empty plastic cup companions – once chia-seed chilled drinks with their plastic straws panting for a slurp. It chills her heart. She leaves the place; her hands tight fi sts and her palms water melon fl esh.
She runs for shade as the dynamo sun is hitting hard. She fi nds rest in a clean, comfortable bus with wide-open windows that let in fresh air from the interior villages knitted with trees with knotted trunks. Dawn feels a bond with the passengers. There is that tiny lady who boards the bus. Her skin is wrinkled and burned with toil. Her calloused hands are carrying two gunny sacks fi lled with vegetables which she hopes to sell at the next market village. She smells of coconut oil and wet earth. Suddenly a man in a cap with the precision of a well-practised skill, throws his empty soft drink half-litre bottle out of the window and it is lost in the high grass. Littering Nature, then from the same high grass a litter of whimpering puppies appears. Dawn has no time to compose herself as the bus leaves them behind. She has witnessed the beauty of the human heart and also its callousness.
Their voices are lusty songs and their bodies steel bands as they build skyscrapers and small houses alike, run businesses, teach children, manage banks and households. On her last journey, Dawn is in a taxi with some bricklayers who work on a site in Flic en Flac. They are chatting. Her nature eyes grow bigger as their voices ebb and fl ow, their hands like music conductors interrupted by husky laughs pouring from their ever-dancing bodies. They are such a merry band of Mauritians. They enchant Dawn and quieten Nature when she is in pain in the face of human’s inhumanity. She bids them adieu and takes with her the poetry and story telling that are in their blood, the craft and art that are in their hands and the rhythm and sway that are in their bodies. They are the life of this rainbow Nation.