December 1984: not a single cloud marred the skyline that noon summer day in Sao Paolo. But there was rain.
The favelados called it Imaculada Chuva, the rain being born seemingly out of God’s own eyes. For the first time in over a decade, the 95-year-old was able to bend his knees and kiss the muddy ground. The entire street knew him and they all rushed to help him up, thinking he may be dying. When they came up to him, they saw that he himself was crying. “Mary is crying for us,” he said. “The dead are weeping with forgiveness.” When Jose Carlos was young, he had led a sordid life. He led a bootleg operation 1920s, but there were rumors in the favela about his involvement with crime lords, that he did unforgiveable deeds on people just as poor as he is now. Jose Carlos never thought that God would offer a true miracle to the favela before he died.
Little Davi splashed his bare feet under the warm trickle of dirty water from the gutters above, unaware that his parents inside were making love after having a terrible fight over a broken dish.
The twins, Maria and Mariana, laughed infectiously as Maria fried plantains and Mariana sewed up her child’s torn pants. He had been playing with the older boys again and she was worried he was going to fall in with the wrong crowd.
The bare-chested men practicing capoeira at the beach stopped to squint at the rain falling from the sun. When the rain dried, the capoeira dancers at the bottom of the hill began their furious dance again, refreshed. Their lightning feet struck the air, kicking out rainbows over the hillside of the favela.
On that morning, the favelados said that all sins had been washed away, that they were given another chance and the favelados celebrated in the evening until their legs were no longer good for standing. When they woke up again, life resumed as it always had, though there was an exuberance in their eyes where, before, they were only the abused eyes of the desperate and forgotten.