Yes. You heard it right. Foufoune was my childhood nickname, and it’s pronounced as “Foofoone!”
Would you like to know what it stands for in the Creole language? Well! I will tell you anyway. It is the private part of a baby girl! Yes, till this day, my mother’s family still calls me Foufoune, a baby’s vigina! So whenever my girls ask me: “Mom, what’s that nickname they just called you?”
“Oh! It stands for “procreate! “I was so beautiful as a young girl, my grandmother gave me that name. Then she would say: “I Hope you have children as beautiful as you are!” Don’t ask me what happened to you girls.”
So now that you have the Haïtian Country folk’s definition of direction, (discussed on part I of this story) let me share with you an actual journey to my grand-mother’s house. The most memorable one, I recalled I was twelve years old. Please keep in mind not all the names mentioned in the story were my actual family members, but there are actual people called by those names. For example, the real meaning of my biological mother’s name is “Here she is!” People back then named their children based on an event, or the baby’s action during their early childhood. So believe it or not, those strange names have profound impact upon our lives, to say the least, our culture.
It was mid-July, truly a sunny beautiful day. We arrived in Duvalier-Ville around ten thirty in the morning. Papy (how we called my father) decided to drive through the dirt road which would lead us to my grandmother’s house. He was driving for about thirty minutes when we reached a dead end. Thankfully, about the same time, an old man on a donkey stopped. So my father greeted him, and asked him for direction:
“Good morning Monsieur!”
“Good morning ouiii!” He answered.
“Could you please tell us how to get to Dodo’s house?”
He did not say a word for a few seconds. Instead, he started walking toward my father’s car, then he stared at my father. He took a long and good look at my step mother, for a quick second, gazed at us in the back.
“You going to Dlodlo’s plantation you said – Are you related to her?”
“I’m taking her granddaughter to see her.” My father answered him.
Sudenly his tone of voice changed, his faced brightened with a smile: “Really? Who the mamma, or papa is? Don’t tell me – Is she Sun’s daughter? Then while he talks to himself, he said: (That’s the oldest one – probably not.) Then she must be Venus, or Mars, or, “What’s her name again?”
He place his hand on his forehead, while seriously thinking. “I forgot her name – But I know the whole family, you know!”
“You do?” Papy answered cheerfully. “ I’m glad we are talking to you then!” But he was too busy thinking, so he did not hear one word from my father. He continued.
“Lets tee! I belie Dlodlo haaa, twel chilren. (Meaning: I believe Dodo had twelve children) I remember Tar, (he meant to say Star), “Neverforget, She-is-here, or She-was-born, or Here-she-Is.” Can’t never remember that one – Hihihi! “I told you I know the whole family.”
Papy interrupted to say: “The third one name is “Here-she-is, because her daughter is in the car with us.”
“You mean, the pretty little fat light skinned baby she had with the Gineer? “Non-non-non! Don’t tell ME that!”
“Yes she is, and I’m the engineer – But the little baby girl you knew is now twelve. – Nadege, say hello!”
After jumping for joy, he said: “Oh my Goodness, now that’s something! Heaven came down! Heaven sure caaame down!!! “ Foufoune is here with you?”
“Hello!” As I raised my hand. And all my siblings said hello to him as well.
“OMG! Now look at Foufoune –Always askin bout you, your mamma tell you? “And you Gineer, sure didn’t know it was you. Bout half blind now, so I can’t see well, and I lost all my teeth since I was a little boy – Look: “Hee!” (He basically gave us a big smile so he can show us he only had two teeth left.) Then he put his head inside the car:
“Where is Foufoune? “I don’t see any light skinned chubby girl here! Which one is she again Gineer?”
I answered: “Here I Am!”
“Now, you a dark girl now! “What happened to all the curly hair you haaad? Now your hair is all kinky, just like your mamma! Child, your father’s has those good and silky hair, and you went and got your mamma’s nappy hair? “OMG! We thought we had a white girl in the family, now you been turned dark on us. “But a good thing you still pretty! “Now you a City girl now!” (While shaking his head and smiiiiiiling) “Oh boy, heaven came down!”
My sister and I were tearfully laughing by then. The guy was all inside the car, while talking his heart out.
Papy finally interrupted to say:
“Your face do look familiar, but I can’t seem to remember your name!”
“Gineer, you don’t remember me? Its ME!”
“It’s you. But, what’s your name?”
Gineer, I’m “Don’t-mess-with-me son, ME! My name is: “Me!”
“OMG! Dontmesswithme and Nadege’s mom were the best of friends! “Wow! You are, I mean, are old are you now?”
“Am about five years older than your first son. “Don’t you remember? M’just turn thirty-fy year-old! “Still very young Gineer, still very young!”
Papy shaking his head. Trying hard not to laugh. Because all along, he is standing so close to Papy’s face, they both can practically smell each other.
Papy finally try to interrupt him, to remind him about the direction.
“ We are trying to reach Dodo’s House early, can?”
But he walked toward the back window of the car: “You don’t remember me Foufoune? You use to run all over the place butt naked. “Gave me a nickname too. Hihihi! Gineer she used to say “Here comes Talk-too-much!” Boy, she had a mouth in her beautiful head, funny too! “Do you still have a smart mouth?”
“So, how do we get to Dodo’s plantation?!” Papy cut him off again.
“Oh yeah! I keep forgetting Gineer. Dlodlo’s plantation not far at all, bout an hour or two walk. Ok. So you start walkin. But, get off the car first, and just keeeep walkin “And when you see the red horse, turn right. “The red horse is always there, aint gone no where, so pay attention to him – “If you want, you can tell him hi too! “I just said hello to him on my way here. Hihihi! “What I was sayin again? Oh yeah! To your right, there is a cow with a gold teeth, just turn left.”
“The Cow with the gold tooth?” We all yelled.
“Yes, Gineer, the cow been have a gold tooth, you’ll se shining goooold tooth! The owner brought it just like that, and he calls him Mark!” Stange name, ain it? “So, as I was sayin, “When you see Mark, the cow with the gold tooth, to the right is a large field of green corn.”
“Hihi! Well, they are not yellow yet, so they are still green.” Keep walkin!”
But, I thought you told me to turn left when I see the cow with the gold tooth?”
“Oh! I did? Let see. The red horse, the gold tooth, oh yeah! You just keep walkin till you see the green corns, can’t miss them! “Then you’ll see the plantain field, not yellow, but green plantain.” Now he placed his head inside the back window to say:
“That’s your grand-mamma’s land Foufoune!” But, keep walkin. “Then cross the river, walk up the red hill. You will see your great auntie dressed in white under a tall mango tree. Yes, she always wear white dress.”
He place his head inside the widow again to say:
“Foufoune, remember “Auntie mango tree? Heard you gave her that name!” “So you all should stop walkin. “You all can go and say hi, then she will give you some coffee first, them some mango, while you waiting for the food to cook. I will send news, so she can have them kill the white goat for Foufoune to eat. You all can eat with her too. “Foufoune, you eat with your folks, ok!” “Hihi – What I sayin again? Yeah – After you leave auntie Mango tree, keep walkin, till you see the fifthy black pigs, to your left. (Running all over the place, dutying all the road, Mm!) But, you gona see a pure white pig too. “Hihi! Yes, he’s pure white. The owner brought it just like that too, and he calls him Pete! Strange name – aint it?”
“A white pig?” Papy yelled again.
“Yes, he is Gineer – Yes he is – Aint lying – His papa calls him Pete. “Was sayin again? “Keep walkin! “And, as soon as you see all the chicken – I mean all colored chicken, aaall over the place – You can look for your uncle “God –So-good” carving his furniture right in the middle of the road. “Mmm! He been cutting all the trees, to make some nice bed too – I even bought one for my girlfriend!”
“You have a girlfriend?”
“Yes Gineer, have a girlfriend! We have seven kids together. ”My wife not too happy about that either.”
“You have a girlfriend, and a wife?”
“Now, you know better to aa this silly question Gineer. “My wife and I got four bigs kids too.”
So imagined us rolling on the floor laughing. I don’t know how my father remained so calm. Finally my stepmother asked him: ‘How long before we get to Dodo’s house after we leave auntie Mango tree’s house?”
“Very soon Maam Gineer, very soon! Bout an hour or two!”
Papy asked him:“You said, after we see her uncle, we?”
“You just mentioned an uncle you brought a bed for your.”
“Oh, you mean uncle God-Sogood?” Yes. You will see him, right in the middle of the road. But, he’ll be too busy to take you to his mamma’s house. Besides, his wife Alwaysthere will probably want you guys to eat with them. I will send news ahead so Jonas (one of your cousin, Foufoune!)can go grab some fish from the ocean for Foufoune to eat. “Foufoune, you share with your folks, ok! “But, by the time you all done eating, do you really want to walk to Dlodlo’s plantation? Gona be dark by then. Your girls may be skin and bones, but some bad people around here still like skinny chicken!”
At last, Me was done with his direction. But, even after he was done he still stood there talking. Papy gave him $50.00, and made us all thank him. He smiled then said: “Boy, you are a big City Man, Gineer! Will come to see you at Dlodlo’s. “Do you still love Mango, and sugar cane?”
“Yes I do!”
“Good. Because your uncle will bring you everything you like. You are too skinny – will make sure you have some meat on that skinny body of yours before you go back to the City. Your sisters and brother too!”
“Thank you uncle Me!” We all yelled.
Finally after he left, we started our walking journey, till we saw the auburn looking horse, the cow with one gold teeth, named Mark. We said Hello, and He answered us back. For he was a fat man, dressed in black and white. He asked us: “Which one is Dodo’s grand daughter?”
Papy answered “Her!” While pointing his finger at me.
“Yap, you been turn dark on us, with kinky hair too, but pretty girl! “But, keep walkin, till you all see the green cornfield!”
“Will send some mango for Foufoune to Dodo’s, hear? “Share some with your folks, here Foufoune?”
“Thank you Mark the cow!”
Yes. We kept on wakin! Saw the field of YELLOW corn, the fifty pigs and the one pinkish colored new born one in their mist. Yes, his name was Pete! Finally, after about an hour walk, we noticed the mango tree from a distance. Under the tree was a light skinned, skinny old lady, with her hair as white as snow. Indeed, she looked gloriously beautiful. However, she was wearing a blue dress. Next to her was a table covered with a pure white embroidered tablecloth, and a few white cups and a coffee pot, covered under a white linen. But my father still doubted she was my auntie.
“It must not be your auntie, because ME said, she always wore white.” So I answered with a smile: “ I may not be able to remember my great auntie’s face, but I would remember that mango tree from anywhere in the world!”
That’s when we heard: Is that my Foufoune I see?”
‘OMG! It is you Auntie Mango tree! Me said you always wore white!”
“Who is Me? And yes, I aways wear white!”
“But, your dress is blue auntie. And Me said he’s my uncle!”
“Oh! You must mean your grandmothers’ neighbor, but his name is “Put-ME-Down” honey!”
To be continued.
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