I inherited this bible after the death of my grandfather, Manuel Simeão da Silva, but the most important thing I inherited from him was his stories. My memory of him wasn’t so much as an ardent bible reader but as the adventurous young man he once was and for his playfulness.

He lived in another state and I was about 4 years old when I first met him. I remember him swinging me on a hammock, feeling terrified by his wrinkly face and dark skin every time the hammock swung close to his face. He was a cafuso, his mother was Brazilian Indian and his father an African.

It was only later when he came to live with us, after my father’s death, when I was 11 that I got to know him better.

He had mellowed by then; he wasn’t the severe man I had heard about. In fact, I think his old age regression matched my age at the time.

He was a great storyteller, telling me the wild tales of his youth and how he was quite the Don Juan. There were many stories about travelling through the jungle, and in particular his encounter with a dangerous snake. How he had eloped with my grandmother and how her father contracted bounty hunters to kill both of them.

It was only much later that I realized I was the only one he told those stories to. At times, I would get bored of listening as he repeated them over and over again. In hindsight I can see the wisdom of the repetition, because I can now remember those stories.

Viviane Carneiro