“What The …?”
“This is not a nice expression, so don’t you repeat it again!” I told my grandson.
“Han hen Gamma. Jesus taid that.”
“No, Jesus would never say something like that, because this is not nice.”
“Yes he tid Gamma! I hord t’him taid that in my TV. The man with a lonng lonng t’hair!”
“Well! The man with the long long hair, probably was not Jesus. Maybe he was the devil.”
“The Tevil? He t’have lonnnng hair Gamma?” He asked me with a shocking look on his face.
So I answered him: “They claimed he has long horns, long teeth, long nails, so he probably has long hair too.”
To my surprise, my grandson had dropped himself on the floor as he laughed, then said:
“You are so tunny. “Stop tidding me Gamma!!!”
He held the dollar bill in his hand, simultaneously rubbing it against his face. “Dimy,” I said. “This money is dirty, you don’t know where it came from, and so you should never rub it against your face.”
-“No gamma, tis is not durdy, because tis is not money.” He replied.
-“What do you mean “this is not money? Of course this is money!”
– “Han hen! Tis is not money. Tis is a dollar Gamma.”
“Ok. So if this is not money, what do you think money is? I asked him. That’s when he grabbed my purse, placed his tiny hand inside there to look for “money.” While all along he kept on saying:
“Where it tis again? Where it tis again? Got it Gamma!”
He then raised a quarter up with his hand, when at last he said with a big smile:
“Tis is money Gamma!”
Picture this: I’m now living in Los Angeles with my biological mom, who’s the complete opposite of my step-mother. My step-mom is more like “words, words, annoying words.” But my mom is more of : “ACTIONS speak louder than words,” type of a person.” I really think my mom missed her calling. In my opinion, she should have been a professional pitcher. You know the guy who throws the balls in the baseball game? Don’t’ get me wrong; ok. The woman sacrificed her life for her children, and did a great job doing so. But she also has the instinct of cat, so you can never lie to her. She has a way she looks at you, as if she’s reading your soul, without saying one word, and whenever you see that look, you better start RUNNING as fast as you can. And, while in the process of running for your life, it would be wise, if you could grab anything you spot at her reach; then take off as if you were running in a track race aiming for the gold medal.
Although there are times, she’ll surprise us, when we won’t see it coming, but she will always say the following words first: “M’ta gadé’w, ou, m’ta pan!” A creole expression which I think originated with her. With Haitian parents even if they spoke fluent French or English all day and night, don’t expect them to discipline their children in English. They whoop your butt in creole, slap in you creole, pull your hair in creole, and then force you to eat, after they just whoop your but in creole. But after their anger cools off, they reason with you in French. Well, really! If this works for other children, it did not work for me. The honest true is, most often I did not deserve the whooping I got. And believe me, I was a fair judge of myself. I knew when I was wrong, so I would humbly take a slash of belt or two, although with my mother it was more like…………… But, when I didn’t feel she or anyone else, had just cause to hit me; oh boy! “Woman, you better take your French and get out of my face!!” Well! I never said that, but I had a box full of anger expressions. Yes, you can tell I had a fresh mouth. So much so, all the mint in Haiti, whether in liquid, gum, herb forms, could not compete with my mouth. In fact, they pledge allegiance to me, and gave me the Medal of Honor.
I know by now you probably want to know what this creole expression: “m’ta gadé’w, m’ta pan!” Means. Pretty much to sums up: So if you were still standing in front of her, by the time she said the last word“Pan,” chances are, the cooking pot, vase, cup, plate, or her shoes already bouncing back in your head. Believe me, she never missed a throw. I have to say this technic was mostly used on the boys. So my older brother became a pro with the baseball bat, so he never got hit.
For me it was her long nails on my skin or the belt. So, after the first whooping, I would say something like: “I wish you would go to hell, where God will condemn you FOREVER!” So the title of this whooping would normally be: “Where? Where? Where? “Where- do- you- want- me- to- go?” Each word usually count for one belt slash. And my answer would be:” “You know where!” “You know where!”…””…” “…”
Then if the beating was very harsh, after the last slash; the moment she starts walking away, I would say: “Yououououou-” Then she would turn, and wait for me to finish my sentence. But I was smart enough to hold it in, until she started walking away again. Then I screamed from the top of my lungs:
“Are not niiiiiiiiiice !!!” More likely the title of this beating would be: “Let me show you then. –Let me show you then. Let-me-show-you-how-nice-I-AM-NOT!!!” So you draw the conclusion how many belts in total; by the way the UPPERCASE letters count for two belts each.
Then, if I still didn’t win the case, I would try my last attempt by saying: “God is going to JUDGE You! Or something like: “I can’t wait for God to come and get YOU!” I think that one was always the winner, because the title of that whooping would be: “Who? Who? Who?” And I kept on answering her: “You know who!” “You know who! “You know whoooooo!” Then on the last belt, I would tell her “Not God, but the devil will get you instead!” By then, I would usually win the case. She would leave me alone.
Yes. I must admit, I was quite a case, but not without a cause. Back then, the majority of Haitian parents rule their household like the “Tonton Makout” on Duvalier’s regime. But I was the child sent from hell to plead my case. Either with my mouth, or my drawings. Besides, someone had to defend the other children! lol
“I called her “SHE”
At my uncle’s discretion who has a great sense of humor, I went to Zubi’s market one Saturday morning with the hope to enjoy a few laughter. It was about nine nish when I arrived at the zubi’s market, and my shock started from the parking lot, when I heard everyone speaking very loud the Haitian Creole. When I finally made it near the meat section, I had to squeeze, push and dove myself through the crowd, just to obtain a number from the dispenser, near the glass counter. It was a delight to see I was number thirty four, while the last customer being called was seven, so I knew I would be there for a while. Apart from the Clerks who were Cuban, the whole store was crowded with my Country Haitian people. My uncle was unquestionably right; “creole” was all I needed. The majority of them were speaking LOUD, with the familiar unpolished creole language. Many of them were dressed with combination of colors which, “ I swear on my Grand-mama’s grave, whom I loved dearly” I would never even dreamed my people would have the audacity to wear. Mixtures of orange and purple, lime green, and hot pink, white and red, you name it, they had it on. I think that’s when my “Fashion design” inspiration flew away. Hey! “rayi chien, di dan’l blanc” Which means in creole: “hate the dog, but at least admit his teeth are white.” I said this to admit I loved how they tied their hair beautifully with colorful scarf, which made them all look beautiful. So, while I was there, I stayed focus by looking at them upward, and tried not to look down so I would not be hypnotized, with their definition of fashion. Oh! I forgot to mention about the gold they wore as well. Between their large gold earrings, pure gold watches, bracelets, and rings with every kind of stones in existence, were enough gold to rebuild the whole temple of Jerusalem, and the streets of gold they mentioned in heaven. I stood there while observing their interactions, their face gesture and body languages, then smiled, while thinking to myself “this is the place to be!” The following was my second observation – You may read the first one entitle “THEY are my people.”
I CALLED HER “SHE.”
Just when I though it couldn’t get any worse than what I had just witnessed in my previous post, “SHE” stepped up. . I have no words to describe what she was wearing. So I will just say, I think it was a combination of the 70’s, like the “Mod” era, with a blend of the Travolta era, in the eighty’s. What stuck to my memory mostly, was the bright red satin blouse with the glitter accent, and the “orange” elephant legs pants. The jewelry was definitely from the movie “Grease.” And, the yellow shoes, was a first for me. She did have a “purple LARGE purse,” wearing a wig I think she must have borrowed from the lady from “The Jefferson’s TV show”
So, I would assume, with an outfit “like that,” if I were in her shoes, I would try to make the least noise as possible, in order not to draw too much attention. Unfortunately, I don’t know which part in Haiti she came from? But I can guarantee, it was not near the City at all. And, even if one were to reach her village, I have a strong feeling, it would be required for one to travel below ground level , deep, deep, deep down below. Just then I thought to myself: “Hollywood producers are missing out on the action here in Little Haïti.”
The clerk called her number, when “SHE” stepped forward. Right then, the bottom part of my lips, fell on the floor, and even crazy glue was not be able to seal it back. I had that frozen look on my face; starring at her was not enough, so I kinda closed my eyes a few times, to make sure “I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing.” (Hey! that’s the best way I can say it!) That’s when I heard when she said to the clerk:
“Me, don’t make my diole long today.” Meaning: (word for word:” Don’t make my lips long today.”)
So I guess the clerk understood exactly what she said, when he answered:
“Ok Mammy! Commo es ta?” She did not even pay attention to his greeting, she pointed her finger to show him the hen she wanted as she said: “Gi me that big, big big one over there.” So he did.
Then she said, “Gi me “One cou.” He answered “One what?” She screamed: “Yayayy! I told you don’t make my diole long today.”
“But” he said, I don understand what dyu said.
(Keep in mind he was speaking with his heavy Spanish accent as well. So then I stepped up, and said, “She said she wants “one neck.”
He answered me: “What she means by “ONE neck?” So I turned toward her, and said in creole:
“Did you mean “you want a pound of chicken neck, or just one neck?”
Then, she looked at me for a moment, from head to toes. And I mean she examined me thoroughly before she answered me back in creole with the following:
“Have you ever seen a chicken with two necks? Answer me.” As she looks at me again, she said: ” Then how could you ask me “if I wanted to buy a bunch of neck?”
“Oh!” I nodded my head. Then she said in creole: “tell him I want the chicken, plus one neck, two legs, and one gizzard, so I can cook a whole chicken for my Sunday dinner.”
I wanted to laugh so badly, but the colors she was wearing were an indication of how badly she could slap the crap out of me. So I behaved.
Just imagine how I had to tell the clerk, “this woman only wanted to buy: “ One hen, one neck, two chicken legs, one gizzard.”
He answered and said: “you mean, she wants to buy, the two ticken legs too?”
“Yap!” I responded.
Since I don’t’ speak Spanish, I can’t tell you what he said. But when all the guys started laughing, we knew it was not pleasant. We all started laughing, the whole store was laughing for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, she never said one word. She just stood there, looking like a Hollywood star, with her bright shining shirt on. But I could tell she was preparing something good for him. So we all knew then, he was about to make the evening news.
When at last he handed over the bag with her request, he also had the never to say the following to her:
“You forgot one more thing for the ticken. Don’t you want the shiiit too???
We all stood still, even afraid to breathe. All the other clerks stopped what they were doing as well. It was like a “stand still moment for the whole store.”
Then, she shook her head a couple times, while looking at him for a few second, she smiled, then she said with hand gestures:
“Oui, I buy the sheet. Then I give it bak to you. After that You know what to doo weet it? Take it homme with you, then call your wife, then raise her dress up, and you put it…”
“Oh! My God!” Screamed everyone in the store. Then, as if it was a normal occurrence for him, he just laughed. Then he said: “Dyu curse me every Saturday. So I think Dyu are in love with me, and dyu just jealous I’m married.”
She turned back to look at him one more time, then said: “With your face looking like the time when “ wheat use to fight with chayote,” and your clothes looking like “When dirt is buying filth” and you think I would want you!!!
I lived in California for nine years, before my father convinced me to come down and share his experience in hell with him, so I moved here to Florida. I was astonished at the population of Haitian who were already established here. I would soon discovered, that the vast majority of those who lived here, originated from the Countryside of Haiti. Although, I’m originally from Haiti, my siblings and I were not accustomed with the unpolished manners of those who lived in the outer Cities, the countryside of Haiti. So my uncle who lived here, being aware of my limited experience with my people, and my passion for writing told me one day: “I’m sending you to a place in Little Haiti. When you get there, I want you to stand there just for a few minutes, and by the time you leave, I guarantee you a nice theatrical script. So make sure you go on a Saturday, and “THEY” will all be there.”
“Who will be there?” I had asked him. “THEY” are your people. The raw country folks from Haiti, straight from the Country side; believe me, you won’t get them any purer! In fact, even in Haiti, I doubt if there are any more of “those types” left there. But I’m warning you though; leave your “French” at home. In fact, lock it up in a suitcase before you go there. Because if you forget, and go show off speaking French, those country folks will reap your heart apart, then turn you into a horse to ride to Haiti.”
I knew my uncle had a great sense of humor, and he enjoyed a great laugh. So I went there with great expectation. Oh boy! Zubi Market, was the place to be on a Saturday morning.
It was about nine Nish when I arrived. My shock started from the parking lot, when I heard everyone speaking creole, loud. When I finally made it near the meat section, I had to squeeze, push and dove myself through the crowd, just to obtain a number from the dispenser, near the glass counter. It was a delight to see I was number thirty four, while the last customer being called was seven, so I knew I would be there for a while. Apart from the Clerks who were Cuban, the whole store was crowded with Country Haitian people. My uncle was unquestionably right; “creole” was all I needed. The majority of them were speaking LOUD, with the familiar unpolished creole language. Many of them were dressed with combination of colors which, “ I swear on my Grand-mama’s grave, whom I loved dearly” I never even dreamed my people would have the audacity to wear. Mixtures of orange and purple, lime green, and hot pink, white and red, you name it, they had it on. I think that’s when my “Fashion design” inspiration flew away. Hey! “rayi chien, di dan’l blanc” Which means in creole: “hate the dog, but at least admit his teeth are white.” I said that to admit I loved how they tied their hair beautifully with colorful scarf, which made them all look beautiful. So, while I was there, I stayed focus while looking at them upward, and tried not to look down so I would not be hypnotized, with their definition of fashion. Oh! I forgot to mention about the gold they wore as well. Between their large gold earrings, pure gold watches, bracelets, and rings with every kind of stones in existence, were enough gold to rebuild the whole temple of Jerusalem, and the streets of gold they mentioned in heaven. I stood there while observing their interactions, their face gesture and body languages, then smiled, while thinking to myself “this is the place to be!”
“THEY” Are my People:
She was a dark skin heavy set women, and “let’s just assume she was pregnant, if you know what I mean.” (But she was not.) She had a purple heavy poly pleats skirt, and a bright hot poly pink shirt, with a green scarf. To complement her fashion statement, she had “red shoes, red purse, and enough gold to open her own jewelry shop. I heard her talking to the clerk, while pointing with her fingers:
“Yayayy! Tis one I said! Non. Non. Tis! Tis! (tis meaning “this”. non, meaning “no”).
Apparently the clerk was not getting which one of the hen she wanted. Finally she got so angry and started to curse him in her impression of the English language:
“Tis man never know what I talk abot. Look at his stomach looking like an eggplant with indigestion!
Tha why I donn like to get him when I come herrre.”
Translation: “This man never know what I’m talking about. “Look at his stomach looking like an eggplant with indigestion! This is why I don’t like to get him when I come to here.”
“So If you never knew, an “eggplant can have indigestion? Well! Today you learned something new. “
Meanwhile the poor Cuban guy was losing his patience. So he started saying something in Spanish, like: “Quequeque…calambaclamba………; I don’t’ speak Spanish, but I knew they were not good words, when all the other clerks behind the glass counter were laughing with him. So she drew herself closer to the glass. We all though she was getting ready to jump over the counter. So we all took a few step back in order to capture the moment. BUT she did not. I took a deep breath, like a “heeew!! As I placed my right hand on my chest.
Then she said: “Listen to me, you thef! I want that chik- end with the “tou piti neck” You pople stole all the chi – end necks, only that one has one tiny neck to it. I never saw before a chik- end without a neck, so don make me angry ok.”
Translation please: “Listen to me, you thief. I want that chicken with the tiny neck. You people stole all the chicken with the neck, only that one has a tiny neck left, and that’s the one I WANT! I never saw in my life, a chicken without a neck. So don’t make me angry, ok?”
That’s when I was ready to sacrifice my soul for my people, after I stepped up to translate to the clerk what she was saying: So I politely greeted the clerk, as she turned and gave me “the look.” It was more like “do you have a problem with the way I’m handling things here?” Before she said anything, I decided to plead for my life. So I smiled at her and whispered in creole: “He’s too stupid, he doesn’t get what you are saying. Let me tell him something.” She was satisfied with my pleading, as she smiled. Now that I felt like I was a member of the club, I told him what the “fat mean lady” was saying. I was surprise at the way he reacted. He stood there for a second, like he was thinking, then he said:
“Ohhhhh! You right mamita, I know what you mean. “In Couba (Cuba) the thicken hath legs, neck, aaand, what’s dyu call it? What’s dyu call what inside againain? All the others from the back answered: “gizzaaa, eet liva, legs… “we even get the caca too!”
And they all started laughing, including myself and all the other customers. Then the same butcher continued,
“But hee? I donno wa happen? You right mamma, I like ever thing in the thicken.”
The Haitian lady was starring at him, with her hands crossed over her fat stomach. Everyone could tell she was getting annoyed, and ready to explode. He was the only one who did not see what was coming.
So I turned to the right to confirm the temperature I was I getting. The lady on my right said “he doesn’t’ see it coming either!” When I heard that, we both coincidently stepped back, just in case. Then like a balloon she finally exploded, as she yelled: “You talk tou much, hairy up! Ohoooooooh!. Wat man talk talk talk! Ohohohoh! I fire you! “
“Ok! Ok! “He answered. “You wantt tis one? Got it!”
So He finally picked the right chic- end (chicken) for her. After she brought the whole meat department which took about an hour, she finally left. .