Charging into a Maputo building at night following screams for help — And what happened years later.
It was one of the top-ten adrenaline-inducing events of my life: And I always wondered what happened to the woman.
Nervously rounding a corner in the dingy apartment I couldn’t believe my eyes; a man towering over a woman, just smashed a plastic chair on her. It had shattered. She just sat there on the coach knowing that anything she did would make it worse.
I always wondered what had happened to her. Today Adriano told me.
This is Adriano, he was behind me when that happened. He works as a waiter and while discussing what I was going to order for lunch today he told me that he knew me and that we had shared that experience years before.
Listen to this crazy story:
About 5 years ago Adriano and shared one of the top-ten adrenaline-inducing events of my life: Charging into an building at night, following screams for help from a woman and having no idea what was happening. Adriano is a waiter at a sea-view cafe in Maputo. Today, while discussing what to eat for lunch he told me that he remembered me from something that happened years ago, in another part of town, and recounted the story. I was astounded and amazed. Sometimes it’s hard to describe events like this. The adrenaline, the fear, the effort, the seeming success but also the unknown long-term outcome.
Adriano and I didn’t know each other and never even exchanged names that first time we met. I had been sitting at a cafe, Esquina, one evening, five blocks from where we were now, when suddenly we heard shrieking screams for help.
I immediately jumped up and ran towards the small apartment building, across the road, from where the screams were coming. At the entrance to the shabby building stood Adriano, a waiter from the restaurant immediately next door. Pained by the sounds, but unsure what to do he looked at me as I came running. We glanced at each other and he eagerly followed me up.
At the landing of the third floor of the darkened staircase we encountered the woman who was screaming hysterically and she pointed towards the open door of an apartment.
I entered, more than a bit worried; Was it a fire, a robbery, a rape an unspeakable accident?
Charging around a corner in a dingy apartment I couldn’t believe my eyes, a man towering over a woman had just smashed a plastic chair on her. It had shattered. She just sat there on the coach knowing that anything she did would make it worse.
Immediately I jumped in-between them and pushed him back. Thankfully I had been doing bucket-loads of pushups and was able to hold him back.
In my, at the time, broken Portuguese, I yelled at him that I would kill him if he hit her again. Surprised, he paused for a half a second, then looked at me, angry, saying “You’re in my house threatening to kill me?”
Momentarily, I took it all in; We were in the kitchen, there were knives everywhere, this guy was in an insane rage, I was in his house and I had just threatened his life.
But It was too late, I hadn’t meant to say “Matar” (kill), I had meant to say “Bater” (hit), but the words slipped out wrong but I had to keep an intimidating front — Besides, he didn’t know who I was and what I was capable of — This was Mozambique in 2015, people were getting knocked off left, right and center. “Sim” (yes) I confirmed, but only if he hit her again.
“But she cheated on me.” he yelled hysterically, struggling to get past me. The all too common problem had just been discovered in his house. The other guy had somehow left right before he had arrived.
I reasoned with him with strongly pushing him back, “I know you’re angry, you have every right to be angry and you should be angry, but do you want to go to prison for many years.” It was hardly a threat in a country where domestic abuse is endemic, but I had to make an impression. “It’s not worth spending years in jail. You can shout and scream, but don’t hit her, after all we’ve all made mistakes.” He didn’t know like the “Faithful-type” if you know what I mean.
At first it was literally a wrestling, with me holding him back. It then morphed into a shouting match and after some minutes an impassioned conversation swapping threats and begging for reason.
In a country where the law is slow, inefficient and where public officers that challenged financial or voting corruption were summarily assassinated, hoping for justice or even that anyone would call the police was unreasonable. So, it was up to us to make sure this woman was safe, not only at the moment, but also after we left.
After five minutes of yelling he finally calmed down enough to sit down. After a paradoxical, tense conversation about forgiveness and that if anything further happened I would find him (a bit of a bluff, as I neither knew the him or the woman) I left and went back to my unwitting friend, who was waiting nervously back at the cafe with a half-full glass of wine.
The good news that Adriano shared with me today was that the woman stayed in the building and separated from that man. He left the building that same night with all his stuff.
I guess it makes me glad to hear that. :)
Have a great day.