Taking Happiness With Him
On a 16th-floor apartment in the Abraham Lincoln public housing project in the South Bronx, Karen Cintron, 16, slipped a videotape into a VCR. A moment later, a rap video appeared on the screen. The group performing, Silex, included her brother, Victor Barbosa.
Mr. Barbosa, 23, was a runner at Windows on the World during the day, but he pursued a career in music during his time off. After two rap videos that dealt with Bronx street life was a third, produced by a group he had been in earlier, Hurakanes, with an upbeat rhythm and a message about living for the present. Mr. Barbosa took the microphone. "Vive de alegría y de gozadera," he sang. "Porque cuando uno muere eso es lo que se lleva."
"Live with happiness and joy because when you die, that is what you take with you."
Mr. Barbosa's mother, Nancy Santana, 43, was watching the video for the first time, and crying.
The family of five shares a three-bedroom apartment where three candles burn perpetually for Mr. Barbosa. He had slept in his own room, while his sisters Arlene Barbosa, 22, and Karen shared one room, and his mother shared another with his brother, 6, and youngest sister, 1.
Mr. Barbosa's room has been kept largely as he left it on Sept. 11, his clothes still neatly in place in the closet. Rather than always doubling up with Karen, Arlene Barbosa admitted, from time to time she sleeps in her brother's room.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on April 21, 2002.