I notice a girl-chile at the finneral. She not the regular pea-size, li’l piece o’ Guyanese child that we accustom to. No, no.
She tall. She round and solid, like she feed on milk, fresh, pure milk everyday.
She light brown, Demerara sugar brown, not too dark, not too pale. She got big almond eyes. And a limsie...bangs...straggling over them bright eyes. She hair fine and straight and dark brown, reach down to she waist. She ‘bout 4 or 5 years old.
She did wearing a blue, flower-flower cotton dress with white cotton lace at the hem. It had small puff sleeves with lace too, was a proper li’l dress she wear.
But! To make the whole outfit look completely Guyanese, she had bubblies in she hair...pink and red and blue plastic bubblies tying up two bits o’ hair while the rest o' she hair flying loose.
She come from the countryside. But you think that make she shy? Nah, nah, not she.
She got a soft voice yes, like every child here, ‘cause they parents always hollering on them to sit and don’t make a sound...but this chile ain’t shy one tootsie.
She approach the verandah. Some ladies been sitting there, chatting, waiting for the finneral to start. The chile look up at a older woman who did standing up, towering over she.
Hear she the chile in she petal-soft, but big woman, confident voice.
Now, lemme tell you! Children here don’t do that! They does wait ‘til the big people talk to them.
The older woman amused. She face light up. She answer back, “Hi.” The woman couldn'ta stop smiling. All them women sitting in the verandah, they smiling, smiling too.
I ask the li’l girl, “What is your name?”
She say, “My name is Aleea.”
I ask, “What school do you go to?”
She say, “I go to Bush Lot nursery school.” And she run off to play again.
Later, she mother Yasmeen did chatting with me mother.
Yasmeen ain’t nothing like she daughter.
Yasmeen look like a lily, pale and delicate. But faded. Tired and wear out and faded.
Yasmeen tell me mother, “One day, after Aleea hear me and me husband quarrelling, she tell me, ‘I don’t want to marry at all. If I marry, I gon BEAT UP me husband...’ ”
Aleea father look like Hans Clodhopper. A big, brown Hans Clodhopper, heavy jaw, bug eyes, mouth hang open li’l bit. If you look at he, you think he innocent.
But a couple o’ years back I did hear rumours...rumours ‘bout a girlfriend. Then I hear that the girlfriend business end.
And now I wondering, wondering.
Why a li’l girl-chile, only four or five, would say something like that?