So my Papy is back in town. Yes, I’m referring to my Father. I’ve told you before how he was a character. Haven’t you read my story entitled “Am I the one to be most pitied?” That story was about a love note I had received from a certain Romeo during my pre-teen years. While my Step-Mom thought it was ground to lock me up at the nearest convent. My father on the other hands took the time to examine all the facts, before he finally released his verdict. Of course, I had to reassure him I was not the one who forced the young Romeo to write me. And he agreed with me. So, he boldly voted against my mother’s request. Honestly, that was a first. Usually, even if my Mom started fussing from New years til Thanksgiving, my father would remain silent. At last, in order to get my father to react, my Mom would say: “You see this Passite? You see what I mean?”
Her first attempt would fly right over my father’s head. Papy would keep eating, with his head hung down, his eyes focus on his plate, while he carefully performs a triage. At last, after another annoying plea from my mom, he would finally say: “Mhn!”
You heard me right. “Mhn!” Would be his answer. Then he would keep on eating.
Now you are probably wondering what was the crime we committed. Or, perhaps I should clarify when I said, “We” I meant to say, what my poor siblings, and “not so poor me” committed?
Most of the time it was NOTHING. Occasionally according to her, we were not sitting properly on the table. Oooptidoo!
The most common one was after she forced us to eat the nasty foods the maid prepared, she would asked us “If we wanted another serving?” A simple answer “No thank you” was like saying: “Hell no! We don’t want this nasty food!”
Well! Let me be clear on this one. My siblings probably didn’t mean to say “Hell no!” But, I certainly did. In fact, most of the time, the detestable look on my face was enough to condemn the maid, and anyone who dared talking to me to hell. My younger brother was very good at detecting those historic moments, so he would profit from annoying me. He also knew he would better remove anything throwable as far away as possible from me.
My Step-Mom on the other hands would give me the look, before she asked me again:
“What wrong with your lips I said?”
“I hate cornmeal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Why do you even cook this stuff?” Would be my blunt answer.
After she turns her face toward my Father, expecting a reaction, she would say: “Oh yeah! Passite, you heard your daughter?”
While Papy’s body was seating on the chair by the table, his mind was traveling all the way in Spain, therefore, he apparently did not hear my answer. So the poor woman would have to make another plea to him. That’s when he would force his mind to lend back in Haïti, in our dining room area. He would then give me a passive look, one can easily read on his facial expression “So what?” By then, my lips would be hanging across the table, could hardly be scrapped off my siblings laps.
Which would make it apparent for Papy to notice my discontentment. “What’s wrong with your lips?” Papy would finally ask me.
“NOT-TYING! I would answer. With my mouth still stuff with the cornmeal I was being forced to eat.
“So you understand what I’m trying to say here? My Mom would deliberately yelled just to get a reaction from my father. Perhaps she would hope he would swing his hands across the table and grab a hold of my lips. Unfortunately, this happened only once. And that day, I think it was probably because he hated the nasty food too.
For prior to his explosion, we all heard him murmuring “Chhhrr! Chhhrr!” Which was his way to show his discontentment on the table. Perhaps, when he realized I had beat him to it, he decided to teach me a Lesson. “The honor to rate the nasty food served in this house is mine, and not yours.”
After he had pulled my lips that day, I had to forcefuly restrain myself from saying: “Shuut!You’ve been complaining about her nasty food since the day you got married, with no positive result, about time you let me handle it!’
But, being the angel that I was, I didn’t want risking spilling the cornmeal still stuffed in my mouth on my beautiful dress. After dinner, my older sister and I had some major plan. (I know you want to know what we had planned. So I will tell you. But keep it a secret. We were going to sneak out of the house, catch the tap-tap to the the Rex theater in the ghetto neighborhood, so we can watch Sissi L’Imperatrice, by one of my favorite actress, Romy Schneider.) Of course we were forbidden!!! Why else would we be sneaking out of the house? Gosh! Do I have to clarify EVERYTHING TO YOU! Trust me, it was all worth it!
Ok, so back on the table. I decided to shut my mouth. Besides, like I said, I could not speak anyway. My mouth was still stuffed with the first spoon of cornmeal, and I didn’t touch my plate since. I figured, all I had to do, was to hold it in my mouth for thirty more minutes, by then, my father’s anger would cool off, and if my step Mom even attempted to make me finish the nasty cornmeal, Papy would then say:
“Oh-Ooh! If she doesn’t want to eat, let her be!”
And yes, it occurred AS-I-PREDICTED! I was home free. Didn’t have to eat one more plate of cornmeal!
So what was the purpose of this story?
Well! I said earlier, my Papy has been back from Haiti for a couple of days now. But, now he is so old, whenever he is eating, he falls asleep. I have to wake him up.
“Papy, wake up! You are still holding your bread in your hands, try to eat!”
“Oh-Ooh!” I forgot!” He answered back with a smile.
Before I know it, he is closing his eyes again. So, I have to remain on the table next to him, to make sure he eats his meal. While silently I remind myself, “My Papy was not always like this. Now, he seems to be the child, here I’m the one watching over him; cooking and feeding him.” I’m so thankful for this honor.
All along I hear him whispering: “This food is nasty!” I laugh. Because with his taste bud impaired, he can’t taste anything. So EVERYTHING TASTE NASTY, for him.
When he is finally done, I purposely asked him: “Papy, how was the food?”
“Mchhrr! Mchhrr! Good! Good!” I knew then, he didn’t want to hurt my feeling.
So I just smiled then thought “After all, he’s giving me a taste of my own medicine!”
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!”