Didn’t you hear me calling you? “Come and get dress I said!” It was a couple months prior to my sixth birthday.
“I couldn’t careless!” I whispered to myself, while I sit on the floor, playing with my favorite doll.
Yes, that was my mother’s voice. She was holding a sleeveless couture, yellow polka dot dress. Just then, I concluded, I was doomed. Wearing that dress would make me look like capital sin. I don’t know why she had managed to convince herself, it was a special day, because, I dreaded “Picture day.”
Yes, that dreadful day took place once a year. Both, my brother and I were dragged to Abraham’s photography. Where, I swear, if my mother could figure out a way, to have our lips permanently glued, while she was yelling: “Sourire, sourire!!!” She would probably confine herself to a convent, and later on, lived to be a Saint.
“Sourire” meant smile in French. Apparently, while we were still in Haiti, my father who lived in New York, looked forward to my mother’s relentless form of torture. As you note, I was not the only sacrificial lamb. My older brother was also part of the yearly ritual. But, while I looked like a yellow warbler, my brother was the black crow.
Don’t’ get me wrong. I didn’t have a problem with the event itself. It was all about the dress. First off, all my couture dresses were sewn above knee length, and I hated showing my knees. Furthermore, I hated the fact that the dress was also sleeveless. She knew I didn’t like showing my tiny arm, so you think she would take my feeling into consideration? NO!
“Did you hear me calling you, or NOT!” She yelled again.
With both of my arms on my hip, I responded, “Is – this – a – sleeveless dress again?” Fortunately for me, that day my mother only gave me “the look.” She didn’t even say, “You owe me one!”
At last, when I was dressed, she said, “Sit, and don’t move!”
Yes, you heard right. Don’t you remember how the adults back then felt they had the legal right to torture us children? They would tell us to sit steadily for over an hour. Are they for real? With my attention spin?
Are you frowning, as if you’ve never heard that before? Ok, you’re probably not from the Caribbean then.
First off, it starts with the bathing process. After they are done with us, our skin usually feels like an aluminum pot, which had just been scrubbed with Brillo. Seriously, if anyone were to slide one of their finger upon our skin, it would make that, “Grub-grub,” sound.
Lastly, as if they didn’t feel we went through enough humiliation, they would tell us, “You better glue your butt on this chair, and don’t’ move till I tell you to!”
Is that so? I can’t speak for the other children, but usually, I sat still long enough, till my genius cells take total control of my mind. I recalled that day, when I heard, “Why don’t you re-design your ugly dress?”
Oh! I forgot to tell you. I was a seamstress from my toddler years. In fact, I believe the day I popped from my mother’s womb, I’m sure I had a needle and thread, stuck between my fingers. Because, by age six, I would already been in the hospital at least four times.
1. I was trying to sew in the middle of the night, when I accidentally sat on a needle. My mom had to be called from a party, in order to rush me to the hospital, on a donkey. Well! What a girl to do? She didn’t want me to sew during the day, so….
2. A needle almost permanently sewed my hand on my bed, because I had forgotten it was hidden under my pillow.
3. I almost had my thumb sliced and diced a couple months later, after I poked my finger with a needle. Since, I was afraid to tell my mom, my finger eventually turned blue.
4. I forgot the last incident. But it was so bad that my mother banned me from touching anything from the needle family.
Needless to say, with my history with needles; Oh! Now I remember the last accident. Too embarrassing, I can’t share that with you. But, still, if you were in my place, would you let those insignificant experiments stop you? Of course not!
So, I thought: “Why not cut a piece from the lower back of the dress, to patch it above the hemline in front, in order to cover my knees? I didn’t need the back of the dress for the picture!”
Therefore, once I executed my brilliant idea, I patched the dress with a red thread. It was hanging like a table cloth above my knees, and I was thrilled!
I had to think of a new strategy for the sleeves. So I cut another piece from the side of the dress, but when I realized it was not enough, I cut an additional piece. By the time I was done cutting the back of the dress, only the shoulder had remained from the back.
Meanwhile, it still did not dawn on me, how my whole butt was going to be exposed. And, just when I was about to sew my version of the sleeves over the shoulder area, there walked my mother.
She walked in the dining room, dressed like the Queen of Sheba. But, when she saw me taking care of my business. My needle and red thread held tightly in my tiny hand, while I kneel on the table, with my shoes scattered on the floor, sweats dropping off my forehead, like hell storm invading Haïti.
I honestly don’t know how to describe her facial expression to you all.
I could say, “She looked like Cruella De Vil.” But, it would be an understatement!
Of course I got a butt whooping!!!
To be completely honest, the whooping was followed by an exorcism, in order to permanently ban these three words form my memory: “Needle, thread and scissors!”
The following day, I cut my new sock to create a new invention for my doll. Ha! I bet you she learned her lesson then.