This week I can’t seem to find the time to write, so I will continue to showcase some of my culture inspired paintings.
This one is entitled “Caribbean Woman”
We are known for our exotic beauty, our full figure, ( don’t know what happened to me on this one) our kinky hair, our firm discipline, and most of all, for our unique style and delicious food!
Father Pierre closed the book to say: “With that being said, I have an assignment for you both to complete together.”
“TOGETHER?” We yelled. “BUT THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!”
“Sister Marie! He said in a firm tone. “Open the book on 1 Corinthians, verse 13, and start reading!”
“Yes Father, she humbly answered.”
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”
After she read the first sentence, she slowly closed the book, hung her head down. I could see her body posture sinking downward, while she remained silent. Meanwhile I was swinging my legs, while I whispered Father Pierre’s sentence, since I thought it was a nice one to engrave into my memory: “With that being said! With that being said!” But Father Pierre glanced at me for a second, and I knew exactly what that look meant, so I stopped. Instead, I grabbed the little statue of Saint Claire which was on his desk, and kissed it. Then I whispered, “I love you Saint Claire, but I also love Mother Marie too. Immediately, I turned to glance at the picture of Saint Michael’s painting on the wall, to my right. I tried to imitate his facial expression, while I whispered: “Annnn-d, I love Saint Michael, and Saint Rose, and Saint Altagrace, and; but Father Pierre gave me a stern look, this time I shut up completely. Just then, I could not help but question in my mind: “I wonder what it would be like to get a butt whooping from a Priest?” I had never heard anyone one of them whopping a child before, it was always the nun who were mean.” But as I was thinking, I heard a noise. When I turned to look at Sister Marie, I noticed she was crying.
“What’s wrong Sister Mor, I mean Sister Marie?”
Instead of answering me, tears gushed down her cheeks, like a river rejoicing from the rainfall. So I got up to grab a tissue from the box which was on Father’s desk, to wipe her face.
“Please don’t cry Sister Marie. I promise, I will never call you “Sister Morte again.” (Which means Site Dead)
But she did not respond, instead she kept on crying.
“I will wear the white sock you want me to, I promise!”
But, she kept on crying.
“I promise Sister Marie, I promise. But you have to know, the only reason I don’t wear the uniform sock is because my stepmom didn’t buy me a white sock. She only brought me “one pair of navy sock, one blue skirt, and one white shirt to wear for the school year. I told her you didn’t want me to wear the blue sock, but noooo – she refused to listen to me! But, If you stop crying, I won’t’ wear any sock at all. Because, I sure don’t want to see you crying again!” I kept on wiping her eyes, but somehow what I thought were comfort words were causing her to scream instead. By then, Sister Marie was not just crying, but she was howling. I think the whole school could have heard her. She even got up to grab more tissue in order to wipe her face. So I slowly got up from my chair, and walked toward Father Pierre, and whispered in his ears:
“Father, I think you need to sprinkle some holy water on Sister Marie, so Count Dracula may leave her alone!”
Father answered “With that being said” let’s try to sit down quietly for a few second, so the Lord may continue His course in this session.”
“The Lord? Where is He Father?”
“You can’t see Him Yet, but I’m sure Sister Marie can sense His presence as well.”
“Wow!” As I kept on turning around, to see if I could spot where the Lord was standing. But I did not see him. So I concluded, it was because I was too young, and went back to sit down. When I turned to look at Sister Marie, I noticed she had stopped crying. In fact, her whole demeanor had changed. Although I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what had just transpired, I had enough sense to resume: “Whatever it was is beyond my league of understanding.” But, Father bent over, and whispered: “It’s not tangible my child.” I guess he was able to see through my inquisitive mind, also understood the fact that, I was too young to pinpoint the presence of conviction, and the zest of remorse.
So after he recited a prayer, he said: “I want you ladies to prepare a theatrical play on the theme of “Love, with this scripture. The other children may participate, however I want the two of you to play the role for the major characters. Meaning, each one of you will share your input about this scripture before the whole school. Then he turned toward me, “Angel, I will notify your parents. For you will need to meet with Sister Marie at least twice a week after school, for the rehearsal.”
Sister Marie remained quiet, while I thought it was the opportunity of a lifetime. But when I realized the play was about love:
“Father! You want us to write a play about love?”
“Indeed my child!”
“But, how could we do so, when I’m but a child, who’s never been in love; and sister Marie is going to die, just like an old rag, who’ll never get married either?”
Father took a deep breath, shook his head, and then smiled.
“I know you are a little girl, and Sister Marie has never, and will never be married. But, I guarantee you, “If you search deep within your heart, you will discover the type of love I’m referring to. And, I know you have more than enough of that precious love, to share with the whole school.”
I smiled, even blushed for a couple seconds. After I thought for a few minutes, I replied:
“Oh – I seeeeeeeeee! “But, Father, what color is that love? Is it also red?”
To be continued.
Father Pierre pleasantly answered, “Good morning! And good morning to you both! But what is going on between you two again?”
Sister Morte held both of her hands together, as if she was about to say a prayer, she promptly answered, “Father, I highly recommend we transfer this troubled child to a more suitable school.” And I strongly recommend some major penance for her, or I fear she will be a lost case.”
Then I also placed both of my hands together, as if I was about to say a prayer, before I said: “Father Bald head, I think you should return Dracula’s wife back to him. If not, Sister Morte will suck all the children blood from this school!”
“Who is Sister Morte?” Father answered, as he refrained himself from laughing.
“Dracula’s wife Father. Don’t you know, all the children are complaining about her. We all refer to her as the “Nasty Unpleasant Nature” Nun.”
“Oh my child!” Exclaimed Father Bald Head. “You must not speak so unpleasantly of the servant of our Lord. She is considered to be the spouse of our Lord. Whatever misunderstanding between you two, I’m sure with prayer, it can be resolved. Don’t’ you think so little angel?”
“Little Angel?” Sister Marie, I mean Sister Morte yelled. Immediately after she took a deep breath, she said, “Father, this child is far from being an angel. I’m afraid she is as stubborn as a mule, and she’s the enemies’ offspring, therefore all the prayers of the Saints couldn’t possibly transport her soul back into the light.”
” I was so infuriated by her statement, I decided to take matters into my own hands, so I yelled back: “Well at least I’m still a child, and only had my first communion so far. There’s still hope for me!!! But I bet you had your six sacraments, and.“
“Ok, both of you, in- MY – OFFICE!” Father Bald Head said impatiently.
So both of us folded our arms almost simultaneously. When we realized we had the same habit, we both dropped them as fast as possible. We suddenly attempted to walk forward, but accidently bumped to each other. So, there I was standing in front of her, with my head up, staring at her. I felt like a tiny aunt crawling on a giant tree. Father stood there with his hand crossed, as if he wanted us to realize how much we had in common. Sister Morte finally raised her chin, then turned around, as quickly as she could, and started to walk toward the direction of Father’s office. Then, I refolded my arms, as I followed her. Father remained behind us.
As we entered his office, he instructed us to take a sit, as he pulled a book from the shelf.
“You sit there child!” Sister Morte said.
“No, you sit there, I want to sit in front of Father.” I answered her.
So Father silently got up, pulled both chairs, and placed his chair in the center. Now we were all sitting behind his desk, next to Father.
“Please read this passage.” As he pointed his finger on a particular paragraph, he gave the book to Sister Morte.
It reads: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”
Then Father instructed her to: Give the book to Angel, so she can read the following sentence. So, I gladly grabbed the book from Sister Morte, then read:
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” Immediately I raised my head and turned toward Sister Morte and yelled “You see, I knew you were salty, even the book said it Sister Morte. With a smile I said, “But I’m a light, and.”
Father interrupted “The PURPOSE of this reading was not meant for you both to pass judgment on each other! As he lowered his tone, “But rather for a reflection on self.” Let me read the third sentence.”
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
After he was finished, we both remained silent. Almost speechless, as if we were ashamed. And to justify the shame and the guilt which evidently prickled my heart, I slowly whispered:
“Well she is the salty one!”
Sister Morte turned to look at me, but did not say a word. Then as Father closed the book, he said “With that being said, I have an assignment for you both to complete together.”
“TOGETHER?” We both yelled. “BUT THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!”
To be continued.
It was the custom of the old folks in my family to leave a cup of coffee on the side for our ancestors. They believed if they continued to feed our ancestors, they would remained strengthened, since the chief family members were somehow ordained to protect those who were still alive. Looking back, I was about two years old, when I started drinking their coffee. In fact, I also thought they would need help with the large plate of food reserved for them as well. Eventually both, my grandmother and my aunt found out about my innocent venture, so they thought they needed to teach me a valuable lesson. But from what I heard, they were the one who were left intrigued.
I’m told I was four years old when this incident happened. Apparently, for three consecutive days, I was enjoying myself while feasting on the ancestor’s food. Afterward, I would walk outside to yell to the old folks: “Mm-Mm! Gran Do, the spirit said the food was good!” “Gran Do, who was my grandmother thought something was strange. “This is strange!” She said. “The ancestors sure ate that food fast – They usually would send a visitor, or a beggar to ask for some food, or the food would remain till completely dried out.”
Of course, I was too young to understand my grandmother’s concern, so I just kept on eating. But after three consecutive day, my grandmother cooked a dish named “Chaka,” which was a blend of corns, beans, squash, coconut, you name it – it had it! On that day however, while I was eating the bowl of Chaka, I fell asleep, with the bowl right on top of my chubby stomach. So Gran Do who happened to walk inside the house, saw me snoring my heart out. The bowl of Chaka spilled all over my body, my whole face, and my hands were bathed in Chaka. Now Gran Do who didn’t know what to think, decided to call her older sister.
“Now, don’t know what to think of this Sis – You think the child has been eating the spirits food?” She asked auntie.
“Don’t know Sis – Don’t know! But she’s been telling me she ain’t hungry for dinner. I was going to give her a laxative on Saturday!”
We need to find out, before those spirits get angry at the child.” Gran Do said.
“Well! She is family, sure they won’t hurt her, but we can still test her to see if she’s the one eating them food. She loves fish you know, so let’s make some fish tomorrow and place it on the ancestors table again.”
But Gran Do answered: “I will make some fish all right, but will teach her a lesson. Will put all the pepper and the salt I can put my finger on, in that fish – “Have to teach her a hard lesson, or this child is doomed to be too much for us to handle later on.”
“Well, what do you expect Sis. Both on her mamma and Papa side are Moses – Didn’t you hear what the priest said in church? That Moses man from the Big book opened the ocean with his little finger, and killed all the Gyptians? That’s a lot of power for one man. For all we know, he’s probably the one eating all the food through that poor child – The child is unusual, must say!”
“Well – don’t care sis. After I’m done with her, some of that power should leak through her tongue, nose, even her ears, because she’ll be screaming “HOT through her butthole!”
So Gran Do and her sister did as they had planned. In fact, the fish was seasoned with so much hot pepper, that tears dropped from their eyes as they were cooking. Finally, after they served the ancestors the large fish, which they placed on their special table, the old folks sit outside waiting. About half an hour later, I ran out of the house, with the plate of fish, screaming my heart out: “Gan Do, THE SPIRIT SAID THE FISH IS TOOOOOOO HOT – HOT – HOT – HOT!!!”
Both Ma Do and auntie dropped themselves on the floor, as they could not stop laughing. However, since they had already prepared some cold lemonade, they decided to show me some mercy, so they both rushed toward the lake, the direction they saw me take off. But when they arrived there, they were shocked to see my whole body lying flat on the ground, with my head toward the lake, under the water, while the plate of fish was still next to me. When I eventually lifted up my head, it was just to grab another bite, then to dip my whole head under the water again. I continued the same process, till I ate the whole fish. After I was completely done, I sunked my whole body under the water while I rinsed the wood plate which held the fish. The old folks stood at a distance while watching me in action. I finally walked toward them, and when I noticed them, I handed the plate back to then, and said:
“Mm-Mm! Gran Do and auntie, the spirit love the fish, but was a bit too spicy. The spirit said, you can make some more tomorrow!”
“Auntie shook her head in disbelief, then turned to Gran Do to say: “Sis, is she an angel, or a demon? I think we need to place her in a box, send her back to her papa, and have Jonas write a note: “Return to Papa!”
“Ma Do answered, “Are you crazy? The child has enough fire in her to destroy Satan and hell three times over. Besides, whether she’s an angel or demon, with her on our side, should guarantee us a good post in heaven, or hell. “So I say she ain’t going nowhere!!!”
Auntie answered: “You sure right Sis. – You sure right! In this case, let’s make her some more fish tomorrow, she sure liked it!”
“She sure did – But with just a little pepper!”
But tomorrow after I ate the fish, I said “Did you old folks forgot how to cook? The spirit said “Not enough pepper!”
My father owned a convenient store in Haïti, a small town, about forty-five minutes from Port-Au-Prince; the Capital of Haïti. During the summer, our family often spent a few days vacationing there, since there was also a house right behind the store. But I recalled one particular weekend, my aunt and I went up there alone, since her mom (Aunt Sawsaw” was the one in charge of the store. I was probably 13, while she was 18 years old.
That Saturday morning, when aunt Sawsaw had to run some errands, she left my aunt and I alone in the store. But, since she knew how much we loved sardine, she gave us a long lecture before she left.
“You see that box of sardine on the shelf up there?”
After we looked up, we said: “Yes Aunt Sawsaw.”
“Now, whenever I come back, if I don’t see it right at the same spot, I better find the money in the cash register. “Do you hear me?”
“Yes!” We both humbly answered.
Immediately after aunt Sawsaw left, we climbed on a high chair and grabbed the last box of sardine. After we seasoned it with some lime and hot pepper, we ate it with some fresh bread, and avocado. In fact, we even had some cookies for dessert, plus some soda to seal the deal. “If we were going to get in trouble, it might as well be all worth it.”
Well, to be honest, this was not my reasoning. Because, even at thirteen, I was still very gullible. In fact, everyone knew I could not lie for a million $$$. So my aunt being aware of this fact, and out of fear that I would end up telling her mother the truth, made it her mission to rehearse the whole scenario with me prior to her mother’s arrival. Yes, we spent the whole day rehearsing.
“Listen to me! ” She said. “I know you don’t know how to lie, but you must try to remember what I’m about to tell you, or we’re both in deep trouble! “Whenever my mother ask you about the box of sardine, even if she waits till next year or five years from now, you must always give her the same answer: “We sold the box of sardine right after she left.”
I answered, “Yes auntie.”
“Again, if she says, “Where is the box of sardine?” You are to answer:
“We sold it and placed the money in the cash register drawer.”
If she says “What did you girls ate while I was away?” You must answer:
“We ate some peanut butter and bread, and had some lemonade.”
Two hours later when aunt Sawsaw finally arrived, her first glimpse was the high shelf. Of course the sardine was gone. Then she said “Oh! I see the box of sardine is gone?”
I promptly replied, “Yes auntie, we sold it to a fat lady with a red dress, and the money is right in the cash register.”
She said: “I see. Mm-Mm!”
A couple minutes later, when my aunt came to greet her, she said: “So you girls ate the sardine?”
My aunt answered “No mom, we sold it to a young girl, right after you left, and the money is in the cash register drawer.
Aunt Sawsaw said: “I see. Mm-Mm!”
About four hours later, right before bed time, aunt Sawsaw called me: “Nadège, grab the comb, come and scratch my scalp so I can tell you some tales.” (It was common in our Country at night to listen to the old folks sotries prior to bedtime.”
“Ok aunt Sawsaw!”
I rushed toward the room with great anticipation because I loved to listen to her old stories. But, just about fifteen minutes later, in the midst one of her story she stopped, then after she stretched her arms, closed her eyes as if she was falling asleep, then said,
“So, with what did you girls ate the sardine again? Did you girls broiled some plantains and had some lemonade?”
I answered: “No aunt Sawsaw. “We ate it with some bread, had some cold soda, and some cookies for dessert right after you left!”
“Idovia” was my maternal grandmother’s name, but we called her “Dodo.” I must admit, she was a unique character. One thing for sure, she didn’t bargain with nonsense, and her tongue was as sharp as a two-edged swords. Furthermore, her fearsome stares were like murder attempts, so everyone knew not to piss her off whenever she was having a bad day.
After reading this story, you should pretty much sum up my Grandmother’s character. Enjoy!
“Now, Dodo what is it I heard you cursed the priest during your confession?” She was asked by one of my great uncles.
As she pulled her donkey toward the gigantic mango tree, she did not even bother to turn her head back while she murmured, “Is it your damn business whether I cursed the priest or the angels?”
Her cousin replied, “You think you’re a tough old lady, but one of these days, the Good Old Lord will bargain with you couzin!”
After she tied the donkey, she slowly walks back toward him. Her bow legs were notable, which made her look even shorter standing next to him, but she was always fearless. She then placed both hands on her hip,
Yes, I’m as tough and raw as a steak, and stubborn as a mule. The Good Old Lord created me just like that, you have a proble with that? “Besides, that damn priest was asking me about my grand-daughter; had nothing to do with my confession!”
“Now cousin, he was just asking you about Angel, he probably missed the child since she’s been gone, what’s wrong with that?”
“Oh please, he’s not about to find out from me! Why the hell he wants to know anyway?”
The old man felt annoyed by her behavior, slightly raised his voice. “Now Dodo, you went to confession, instead, you end up sinning even more. So why even bother?”
“Oh please! Lived to be one hundred one years – Seen all the shit and neat in this life, cursing a priest won’t make any difference.”
After she rushed to grab a large piece of wood, she said “Now, don’t you raise your crocodile voice on me either, or I will bust every dry bone in your body.”
Since he knew he was tramping on thin ice, he started walking away. Standing at at distant from her, he said,
“Can’t imagine what could have gone so wrong so early in the morning; just five in the mornin’ cousin.”
She yelled, “Your face is what’s wrong cousin! “It’s bad enough you’re drinking my coffee at five o’clock in the mornin’ – but you show up here with your shirt looking like dirt buying filth to talk about my damn business!”
He yelled back, “Your coffee? Couzin this is not your coffee! Remember, I planted, harvested and even grilled the coffee beans before I gave them to you.”
After she snatched the cup from him she said, “AND? Still wasn’t no damn coffee till I broiled the water and add the sugar. Then I had to serve you in my damn cup too! Plus, while you’re sitting here farting on my chair, I have to stare at your face, looking like a bee nest.”
“You’re sure one mean woman – don’t know how the hell you got married!” He said.
“What can I say couzin? “Been in training here in hell since I was a little girl, and just about to transition to heaven now; away from you. Ain’t an easy task either!”
“Heaven?” Her cousin answered. “ If I were the Good Old Lord, I wouldn’t let you live one million miles from me; you’ll probably take over!”
“Damn right I will! – After I marry Him! Now get off my land before I bust your lips!”
HEAVEN CAN WAIT!
We were left both astonished and inspired by Smartgirl -Americannow story. We had laughed so much, our laughter reservoir had dried out. When we were called for dinner, let’s say my auntie had prepared enough food to feed the whole population in Haïti. Between four to six plantains, plus some veggie, and a bucket of rice for each one of us. Those of us from the city were not accustomed to eat as much. Our dinner usually consisted of a small salad, a plantain, and some rice. But when she realized we did not finished the whole tray of goat, she had convinced herself that we all needed a laxative; which by the way she gave me that same night prior bed; I had diarrhea till I filled up the four corners of the world with…
The following morning during breakfast, she mentioned how I used to dream when I was a little girl. “If we even sneezed inside our bedroom, Foufoune you used to dream it,” she said. Then she asked my father, “Does she still dreams?”
Papy answered “not as often, but quite often she will be pre-warned me of upcoming danger; like a car accident we just had.”
Then auntie yelled “Titletales, go fetch some herbs, make some tea – Foufoune’s dreaming angel is not well – “Don’t know what happened to her gift? But, will fix that for you too my girl!”
“Do you still see angels Foufoune? She asked me.”
“No auntie, I see demons now.”
“Titletales, get some herbs, she’s seeing demons now – don’t know what happened to the angels!” Then she called me toward her and said: “Now you’re still pure aren’t you?”
“Yes auntie, still pure. “
“Got to keep that closed up, till you get married, here me? Know, you city girls think differently, but OMG! Do you remember Secret’s story? “Hope you learned from her!”
Then she turned her attention toward my father. “Gineer, my girl was but five years old when she kept on telling me, “Auntie, I see Secret holding a baby boy, right here under this mango tree.”
“Not possible my girl!” I answered her. Because I knew Secret ain’t know no man yet, fact we were looking for a husband for her, but she had bad luck. Just gave her some tea a few months ago. But, my girl would not stop. She kept on telling me bout the same dream over and over, saying: “Auntie Mangotree, I saw Secret with a big baby boy. And, you were calling her another name too!”
“So I thought to myself, Secret has been getting heavy lately! Although I thought it was the effect of the cleansing tea I was giving her to clear out her bad luck. But, low and behold! That same afternoon, Secret legs were wide open. “Heaven was shitting! Yes, heaven sure was shitting, when she popped forth a fat baby boy! Imagine how shocked I was? So I almost fainted. then I said: “You ain’t pure no more child! Now, we changing your name to “Secret – It’s-all-over!” Afterward, had to drink some tea to heal me from that shock. But thank God, the baby papa married her, so she wasn’t lost after all. So her name was changed back to Secret again.”
Papy said: ‘But why did you guys called her Secret anyway?”
“Because her Mamma was just eighteen when she had her in secret too – and she never got married after that either!”
“Foufoune come to auntie so I can examine you. “Turn around and let me see your ass!”
After I turned, while she was touching my butt, she said:
“Now my girl, you can’t go around with your Papa’s ass; flat as an iron! You’re a girl, and you need a little chunk of ass – “No man is going to marry you if you have ass like your Papa’s – You knew that since you were five years old. You use to turn your new sax into ruffles and sew them in the back of your panties, and dresses. “Gineer, we couldn’t hide the needles from her, they were her best friends. “Remember for my Mamma’s funeral, we were dressing her up, when she finally open her mouth to speak again. She had stopped speaking since the day Mamma died. “Auntie MangoTree”, she said. “When I walk I want my butt to say: “Vip-Pip-Vip-Pip – Doum-Boum-Doum.” She sure did Gineer! Then Foufoune walked all the way to the cemetery, with the lace ruffles half sewn in the back of her panty, hanging behind her chubby little legs. And she was shaking her butt, while talking to Mamma: “Look at me Great auntie – Look at me! I’m shaking my butt just for you! All along she was repeating:“Vip-Pip-Vip-Pip – Doum-Boum-Doum! Vip-Pip-Vip-Pip – Doum-Boum-Doum!” And, shortly after, everybody started laughing – So much so, we forgot it was a funeral. Foufoune had even the priest laughing. Then I said, “She was the last one who saw Mamma alive, and she hadn’t spoken since. But Mamma made sure she brought our girl back to us. “Yes, Mamma wouldn’t have it any other way, for humor was Mamma’s gift!”