THE GOOLD OLD DAYS!
Growing up in Haïti, my Father was not only a good provider, but he was a creature of habits as well. We faithfully went to the Drive in Theater every Friday night. We had Ice cream every Sunday. And, he always made sure we went to church every weekend. Unless, he was driving us to the Country Side.
No, I did not say he himself went to church, rather he made sure we were in church. Yes, we believed in God. I’m sure my Father did too. But, to be honest, God had nothing to do with our faithful church attendance back then.
Of course, we greeted him with the sign of the cross, once we arrived at the Church! Don’t you think it would be disrespectful to walk inside a man’s house, and not even devote one second to say at least “Hello!”
For a fact, the most pressing reason why my sisters and I looked forward to Sunday Mass, was just so we can check out the latest fashion. Yes, we practically wore a new outfit every Sunday. For that purpose, we needed to keep up with the latest style. As for my brother? Well! I think he was pre-occupied conversing with God about all His gorgeous female creations!
So, let me share with you our typical conversation during ongoing Mass:
|My Older Sister||Me||My younger Sister||My Brother|
|“Look at that yellow dress to my right, center bench!”||“The one with the lace, or the belt? Because the lace one is mine for next Sunday!”||“Which one? Where? I don’t see anything!”||“Beautiful! She looks cultured, got to have her number!”|
|“Oh! You like the one with the lace? That’s pretty too!”||“Yeah! I can sew it with the blue fabric Papy brought me? Will wear my hair up!”||“Where? Which one? Don’t see anything!”||“OMG! Is it Angel day today? Look at that face? Truly made by God’s hands. Am dying here, DYING!|
|“Now, that’s a purse! Look at her matching shoes!”||“LOOK AT THE JEWELRY and the scarf! I bet you they are from Paris! Her mother own “La Trouvaille Boutique!”||“Don’t see anything! Oh! Talking about her? She’s in my school!”||“OMG! I’m in love! Wonder if her brother will give me a hard time?”|
|“Amen! While she kneels down. “Wow! He is cute!”||“Amen!” While I kneel down! “That ugly boy is staring at me, how freaky is that?”||“Amen!”
While she kneels down.” I wonder if the soup is ready at home!Oh! She’s in my school too!”
|“Amen!” While He kneels down. “Please Saint Altagrace, if you make her look at me, I won’t bug you till next Sunday!”|
|“It’s time for Communion let’s go! Take a good look at the dress for me ok?”||“Check out the front neckline, and any details as she walks by!”||“Is Thomas waiting for us outside? I’m hungry, hope we have some French bread!”||“OMG! She was right in front of me, she smells like fresh roses! But her brother was too close, couldn’t ask for her number!”|
|“So did you see that dress? Definitely my next Sundays outfit!”||“Oh my God, how gross? He asked me for my number!”||“His sister goes to my school, his the colonel son!”||“Who asked you for your number? How dare him?”|
So, at last while at the dinner table, while we’re sipping our traditional Sunday soup; if Papy were to ask us:
“What was the subject of the Mass today?”
“My older sister would answer: “About God’s infinite grace and providence!”
“My younger sister: “I think it was about the life of Saint Augustine, I was too hungry to listen.”
Me: “It was about God’s creations, all the beautiful jewelry, fabrics, flowers, and that ugly boy who winked at me.”
My brother: “Yes! His graceful beautiful providence left me charmed!”
“Didn’t I tell you, will be worthwhile coming to church tonight – Guess who’s going to be there?”
“Who – Brother Bush?”
“Girl, you still have a crush on Brother Bush- I thought you were over him?”
“Over him? Where did you hear that from?”
“Oh! Speaking of the devil, here he comes with his daughter.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Brother Crook, the one walking with that beautiful young girl. Wow! She’s a young lady now!”
“Who’s child is she? Her mamma used to come to our Church?”
“No girl, that’s Mother Blunt’s grand-daughter, brother Crook is her son.”
“Praise the Lord Sisters!”
“Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”
“God is good Sisters, He’s been raising me up higher and higher!”
“He sure is Good Mother Hill, He’s good all the time!!!”
“Sure is! See you in Church Sisters.”
“Yes, what was I saying again? Oh Yes – Haven’t you heard the story about the two sisters?”
“Girl, have you forgotten? I only been here for six Months.
“Brother Crook was sleeping with two sisters at the same time, girl. – With his bad luck ass, both of them got pregnant about the same time – OMG! It was the war from hell!”
“Are you serious? What Pastor had to say about that?”
“Girl, they were not church folks; back then, not even brother Crook was saved yet. Honestly, till this day I still wonder if he’s truly saved. Haven’t you noticed he only shows up here every blue moon? You think someone with his past history would be the first one waiting for the church door to be opened”
“But Sister, which one of the sisters he married?”
“Married? Honey he married another woman instead. For all I know, he’s probably cheating on her too! From what I heard, the older sister between the two, was a bitch, so she had an abortion.”
“Lord, have mercy! So the younger sister kept the baby.”
“Yap, that’s her daughter walking toward us, looks just like her Mamma. But she’s been raised by the older sister, who is her aunt, but she calls her Mom!”
“I don’t understand!”
“What don’t you understand? I heard the older one, had her younger sister killed, and stole her baby. Till this day brother Crook think the surviving child is the older sister’s daughter, when in fact, the girl’s mamma been dead.”
“Oh-My-God-! Are you for real? Oh Lorrr-D! Here comes Brother Bush!”
“You with your “Brother Bush!” Wow! He’s a Bush all right, with all that beard hanging all over his – “Praise the Lord Brother Bush!”
“Praise – The – Lord! Sisters. Now don’t you ladies look gorgeous tonight?”
“Thank you Brother Bush, LOL You’re here to see the Prophet too? LOLl”
“Wouldn’t miss her for the world, I hear she’s a powerful woman of God!”
“She’s powerful all right – “The chuck load is about to spill over, and all the dirt will be exposed tonight!”
“Is she really that good?”
“Child, that woman will shake off the broom, and leave the dirt for us to sweep ourselves, then mop the floor clean!”
“Praise- the- Lord! In this case I need a good sit, although they all probably taken by now. See you later Sisters!”
“Lol, Nice seeing you Brother Buuush! Lol”
“Woman, stop blushing over the brother, all we know he’s probably gay!”
“Gay? Don’t say that about my future husb.”
“Here they come now! Praise the Lord Brother Crook and Mother Blunt! – Who this beautiful young lady might be?”
“Praise the Lord “Sister Noisy and Sister In –Trai-ning! “Church about to start, we need a great sit, will talk another day!”
“That Mother Blunt sure is something! “Goodness – Sometimes I wonder if she’s really saved too!”
Words reference for this story:
Allo = Hello ….Bouche – Lips …Corm = Came….Horme = Home…
Idon-no wè-theyat = I don’t know where they are
Numero = Number
Prière = Prayer
Reard – Read
Soeur = Sister
Sung = song
Terll = Tell
Wat = Watchat we a talking – What we were talking
Wè-theyat = Where they at
Awe-ways dondat = Always done that
_________=Nothing is said
So I went back to visit the same church I went a couple weeks ago. You remember the debate about Psalm forty two? When the three elders could not decide if 42 was either a “5 & 2,” or “2×40+1+1=80?” If you have not read that story, I suggest you read it on my blog. It’s entitled “The Art of conversation with a Haïtian zest.” It will help you understand this story even better.
So, like I was saying, I went back to visit the Church. In fact, I made sure I sat near the same old folks. Only two of them were present this time. To my surprise, the pastor had placed a projector so everyone could read the song, and the scriptures on the board. I guess it was his effective way to help the old folks who could not find the scriptures last I visited. I was of course amazed by the pastor’s efficiency. Although I quietly said to myself: “Damn it! You took my story away!” But WAS-I-WRONG!
There is as saying in my country, which is the following: “To take a donkey near the lake of water is one story. But to force him to drink the water, is a whole different story.” This is exactly what came to mind last night, while I observed the two old folks. OMG!
Picture this: After the prayer, the worship service started.
First song projected on the board, with both the number of the song; (which by the way was #3) and the words, for EVERYONE to read. But listen to this:
First old lady: As she raised her hand: “Allo my soeur! You did not terll us the numero of the sung!”
The Worship leader kindly responded: “Brothers and sisters – Hello! Hello! Everyone! “Going forward, we are projecting the song number, and the actual words over there. (She’s pointing her finger toward the board.) “Also, the scriptures, along with the verses will be projected on that board as well. To start off with song #3, in the Chant D’esperance.”
While the whole congregation is singing. First old lady, talking to her partner in crime. I’m sure everyone were able to hear her:
“But, I still don’t see the numemo of the sung!”
Second voice: “Me too.” Then she whispered, “You see what we a talking last night?”
First voice answered: ‘If I want to wat TV I stay horme. I corm to church for singing, and for prière. But now, Mmmm! I don-no wè-theyat!”
So I walked closer to then and said: “Sisters, you don’t need to look for the song in the book anymore. But if you still wish to read it from your book, you can see the number on top of the board, it says #3 – do you see it?”
“Awww! Oui – Oui! I see – Oui!
And the words of the song, are right there also.” I opened the book of the song, and compared the words to the board. But as I read the words to them, I was in for a pleasant surprise.
When I said: “Qui brille en tous lieux” They answered me: “Qui B tzyeux.” So I acted as if I didn’t hear them, and kept on reading. Please note our differences on the following sentences:
My reading: Their answer
Proclamons sa grâce, ___________sa GA -ZE
Le pardon divin, Le poidon Zivin
L’amour efficace, L’anmou Eviigaze
Le Bonheur sans fin. Leur honèr zanvin
I sing the whole song with them, while constantly pointing my finger to the board, simultaneously to the song book. So I could reassure them, that both sources were equally the same.
“You see!” I told them. “What you see on the board, is the same thing with the book.”
But one answered, “I like to reard from the boork. I donlike TV.”
“Would you rather have both, the songs and the scriptures in creole instead? Perhaps it would be easier for you guys to read the board?
‘Hihihihiho!” That’s them laughing hysterically. They laughed and laughed. While I was wondering why? With a puzzled look on my face.
So one of them finally answered:
“Read? We don-no how to reard! And my sister don hear!”
You should see my facial expression, in slow motion: “You guys can’t read, and your sister can’t hear? But, she’s the one who asked for the song number!”
“Hihihihihiho! I know! She awe-ways dondat!!!”
“But, how come she knew the song # was not mentioned at first?”
“Hihihihihiho! “I reard at her bouche!”
“Hold on! Aren’t you the one who can’t hear? But, you just answered me!”
Picture this: I was six years old, living in Haïti. That day, I had serious business to handle. My doll needed a new dress, and I was pissed that I didn’t have any more fabric left. So after I ripped off one of my new socks and started sewing, my mother showed up with a short, dark, heavy-set, masculine looking woman. I thought she was there to punish me since I had just riped off my sock.
“Nadège,” my mom said. “Come and greet auntie Satanise!”
To be honest, when I turned to look at the woman, my mind completely blocked out the “ise” part of her name. Considering what she really looked like, I thought my mom actually said, “Come and greet your aunt Satan.” So, instead of walking toward her, I hesitantly said:
“You mean to say my uncle Sa?”
But before I could finish my sentence, my mom gave me her common daring stare. I knew better than to finish my sentence. So, instead of walking toward them both, I slooowly started to walk backward, until they had disappeared from my sight. Then, I ran inside the house as fast as I could, to grab my shoes, stormed back out from the side door. Yes, I ran all the way to the Cathedral Church, which was located right across our house.
Somehow, my mother always lived next to a church. I don’t know if it was because in Haiti there were so many live demons, or perhaps she might have reasoned: “With a daughter such as mine, I must have access to a nearby church !” Whichever was the case, Church has always been where I spent my favorite spare time. I recalled being the first child who went for confession by the age of five. I also remember begging the priest to partake in the Eucharist, before I even knew what Catechism was all about. Seriously, if a dog barked the wrong way, I would run to church, to confess on its behalf. So I knew all the priests in that parish by name. Well, at least the name I called them. Because I could never remember their real names, I gave them my own name. Most of which described their physical appearance. They didn’t care, because they still loved me anyway.
So now, I would like to share some examples of my confession, and my daily conversation with the Priests.
“Bonjour Father big nose, I have a big confession today!”
“Yes Angel, who did what?”
“My mom said a bad word this morning. My brother came home late last night again, and I pi on my bed last night, so the maid will have to wash more clothes today because of me. So I ask forgiveness.”
The priest: “You are forgiven my child.”
And I continued, “But today, I also want to confess for mother Mary.”
“Yes. you see Father, I was looking at her statue, but she did not wink her eyes. So I think she’s dead.”
Meanwhile, if father Red Skin was passing by, I would scream: “Hi father red skin, how are you doing today?”
“Fine, fine, my child! Are you confessing again?”
“Yes father red skin. I’m confessing for “Mother Mary. I don’t want her to drop baby Jesus on the floor because I think she died.”
Father Big Nose answered: “No my Angel. Remember, this is just a statue, so she won’t’ wink back. Our real mother Mary is in heaven with our Lord – but you’ll learn all about that from Catechism.”
“But father Big Nose, my great, great, great, grandfather Moses said, we should never pray to a statue”
“And I agree with your great, great….. Grandfather!
“HI FATHER Lag –uad- a; “Hi Father HEAVY TONGUE!”
“Hi T’Angel. Here for your t’dream toot’day?”
“No. I’m confessing. “Oh My God! I forgot to tell you father Big Nose, “The reason I’m here, is because “Satan is in my house!”
“Satan is in your house?”
“Yes. She came home with my mother. She has big nose, big ears, and gigantic eyes. She’s black and short. But she’s missing her horns. My mom called her auntie, and she wanted me to kiss her.”
“Well! If your mom called her auntie, and she does not have horns, she’s probably not Satan!”
“Yes she is. My mom just told me: “Come and kiss your auntie Satan!”
Father Big-Nose pause for a moment. “Mm! You said she’s a she?”
“Yes Father. My mom made a mistake and called her “She” but I was about to say she’s a “He” and she gave me the daring look.”
“Angel, perhaps she’s just a friend of your.”
Father Big-Nose, Pleaease give me some holy water so I can sprinkle on her; I’m scared of her, and I don’t want her to sleep at my house!”
“YOU, scared little angel? I find that hard to believe! I will give you the holy water, but just sprinkle your house, not her. Most of all, do what your mother ask of YOU!”
“Ok, father Big -Nose. See you later!”
When I arrived home, both, my mother and Satan-ise were sitting on the patio. So I kept on praying she would not come near me. As soon as my mother walked toward the back door, I heard Satan–ise said:
Nadege, bring me the comb so I can comb your hair. You’re going to your grandmother’s.”
“In your dream!” I whispered. ” You are NOT touching my hair!” Afterward, I ran in the backyard and begged the maid to comb my hair.
“Nadege, come and bathe!” Satan–ise yelled.
“In your dream! You are not washing me with your hell water!” Then, I rushed toward the back and throw some water on myself.
“Nadege, come and get dress!”
“NO, YOU – are- not- dressing me – YOU SATAN!” I finally yelled.
Just about the same time, my mother happened to be walking inside the house and heard me. So she said, “Who are you talking to Nadege?”
“To Satan Mahhhhhh!” I answered back. “I don’t want her to touch ME!”
“Wo is Satan?” My mom replied.
“Her. And I don’t want her to touch ME!”
“Her! She has a big nose, big ears, large eyes; and she’s only missing her horns.” When I saw my Mother’s face transformed, and heading for the belt, I grabbed my tiny bottle of holy water, and rushed toward Satanise to flush the blessed water all over her dress, and her legs.” But, to my surprise, she was still standing in front of me. That’s when I yelled:
“You are a bigger Satan than I thought!”
And when Mother noticed I was about to run back to the church, she grabbed me by my hair. But, I was so busy screaming, “You Satan, out of here! You Satan out of here!” Then both, my mother and Satanise started laughing hysterically. And, thank God, although my Mom was holding the belt, she could not manage to stop laughing long enough to give me the whooping which I had truly deserved.
I was furious at them. By then, my face looked like a car in bad need of a major tune-up. I just could not understand why my Mother was laughing with Satan. And why would she invite her to our house? So, I stood up with both hands on my hip to say:
“Laugh all you want, but you will see when father Big Nose comes here. He’s going to call aaaaalll the angels, and you’re going straight TO HELL!
I did not get a whooping that day. But I was banned from going to church for two weeks. At least, “So my mother thought!!!
As for Satanise, thank goodness she displayed a great sense of humor. Although, I don’t recall ever seeing her again.