Simao’s bar is closed. The men chatting outside tell me to knock on the door to his adjacent house. I knock, sit on the step, and wait. His neighbours, sat on their step, call his name.
He appears and I enter. He looks tired. He still smiles. He still fusses over making sure everything I need for my journey home is in place.
He tells me someone died in the sea last night.
I half-expected this. The dusty village littoral path was crowded when I walked home last night. Some stood open-mouthed. Others sat. Still others cried. A boat was pulled ashore with much commotion. More aluguers, bursting with people, traversed the dusty track than I had seen all day.
‘I’m so sorry, Simao’
‘C’est la vie’
‘Oui … mais … dommage, n’est pas’
I ask what happened and how old. Did no-one see? Did nobody pull him out and resuscitate him?
Simao tells me he was epileptic.
‘Was he not prescribed anti-convulsants?’
It wasn’t standard epilepsy. It was alcohol-induced fitting. He drank and drank and drank then fitted in the sea.
Simao’s Police diving teams and boats searched then brought the dead weight back to shore.
A dead weight aged only twenty-eight.
It is easy to romanticise the calmer pace of an impoverished rural village such as this. But people are people. Everyone is fighting their own little battle with life, with or without anxiety or addiction or alcohol. In the global North and in the global South.
A dead weight aged only twenty-eight. A loss to friends and family. A loss to the village. A loss to the not-so-tranquil sea.