Not so broken
Last Sunday morning we drive past pink ‘n’ white ‘n’ lemon concrete houses; big houses with Carnival colours; li’l old wooden homes hanging on to they last nail; children playing cricket; we drive through wood smoke and curry aroma.
We been to visit a doctor friend and he wife from Eastern Europe. Doc. is like family, and he think of my mother as he mother, any favour he want my mother do for him. We very proud of Doc…although he do free work for plenty, plenty poor folks, he very successful…nothing like hard work and stick-to-it-ivness.
We drink tea, we nibble this, we nibble that, we conversation drift from here to there…
Suddenly…blashaiii…we car window break.
The grass cutter been working on the roadside, and a brick fly and break the window.
Doc. say was his fault, he park we car in a vulnerable place.
The next thing we know, Doc. phoning a fella in the countryside.
The fella sell car parts but he don’t sell to Doc. Doc. know the fella from ages back, he always look after the fella family, no charge, no matter what sickness, no matter how many hours he spend looking after them.
Before we could blink, Doc and the fella arrange and bring the new window the next day.
Is the same thing happen with the tech. guy who look after my computer.
He is related to Auntie M husband, Uncle J. I don't know what his real name is, I only know his nickname is Andre, he is a Muslim, and he polite and professional, kind and patient.
I want to believe that Auntie M. or Uncle J. or they daughter tell he something, I don’t know, he refuse to take payment.
He say to me, “I didn’t have to do much work on your computer. I do this for you, maybe one day you can help somebody else.”
Yes, do the same, and pass the message on.
Maybe, maybe, we the people ain’t so broken after all.
After the visit to Doc and he wife, we visit a sick uncle. Is not a real uncle, he is the family of family of family. Of family. Etc.
There, I meet a martinet for the first time.
She is an almost-curvaceous middle age woman with thick, black hair, thin mouth and hard, dark eyes. I hear about she before, she got a small catering business; her husband die a few years ago.
All o’ we in the room with uncle Faraz. My mother sit on the only small settee near the window and the woman sit near my mother, on the arm o’ the settee.
I say, “Mummy, you better peep and see if we car alright.”
The woman look at me with she hard, dark eyes.
She say, “Car? Don’t worry about the car. Put aside material things. Material things are not important.” She rest she hand on she cleavage. “It is what is in here that is most important. Forget the car.”
I explain how the car window break and I say, “Anybody can steal the car now.”
“Oh,” the woman say.
We discuss how uncle Faraz don't want to eat much.
The woman say to Uncle Faraz wife, “You want me to cook for him and send the food to you?”
An odd thought pop into me head but I keep it quiet: Excuse me? Auntie can’t take care of her husband? She need YOU to cook for him? Hm, I wonder if you trying to prove your womanhood and superiority. To show that you’re a better cook...that your food gon nourish this man better.
Uncle Faraz wife politely decline, shake she head, vague, vague, and come and sit near me on the wood floor.
The gyaffing…the chatting…circle around this, that and the other. Suddenly, the woman jump on a soapbox.
She launch into a speech about children today, they have no discipline, it’s because of the things they watch on tv, especially local tv, like the half naked, big women with they flesh bulging out o’ they skimpy clothes, they look so vulgar. Her little grandchildren been watching this one day and she tell them, “Switch that off now!”
Nobody say anything.
She continue. She say when she been visiting Canada, she tell her grandchildren who live there that if they give she any trouble she wouldn’t think twice to slap them hard.
The children tell she they gon call the police.
She say, “Go ahead, call the police, they don't look after you, I do.”
She had a cane she used to discipline her own children with and they used to hide it. She brought up her children STRAIGHT, and that is why they so good now.
My mouth itching, itching to say something. I couldn’t stop it. I say, “Oh boy, you're lucky you didn't have children like us. My mother could never catch us to spank us, we used to run, hahaha...”
The woman glare at me and say with all the grrrrrrr in she voice, “I. WOULDA. KETCHHHH. YOUUU...”
And she eyes GLEAM, you could see the thoughts churning in she brain, all the things she woulda do to we if she did only catch we.
Heh. To think that some folks believe we would have peace if women rule the world.
The last time I sit in we verandah was Tuesday night, trying to forget computer woes…this was before tech guy.
My mother like to sit in the verandah at nights, sit and wait.
Waiting for the red fire in the sky. Meteors, she say.
She saw them on five different occasions, many years ago. Between 7:30 and 8 o’ clock, speeding from the northeast.
She say the red fire was about 30 feet wide; it fly straight, swerve, then shoot straight again, taper off and disappear.
My mother say she read that the lower heavens are decorated with stars. Beyond a certain place, beyond a certain lote tree, jinns and other unwanted creatures can’t pass to enter heaven. But every now and then they try to listen in to what is going on in heaven, and they are chased by a flaming fire.
Then she change the topic. She say how, in the 60’s [when we were a British colony], some British soldiers find a strange child in we interior.
Apparently, whenever they fly over a certain part of the jungle, they see a li’l girl running into a cave. They look for her and bring her to the Georgetown hospital. The newspapers say she had strange scaly skin.
Around the time that she been in the hospital, a family friend son been there too. My mother and a cousin went to see the son. My cousin ask them nurses for the li’l girl.
My mother say, “They point out the child, she been running around, playing. She had a pink complexion, the scales gone from she skin. Was a very pretty Amerindian child, 10 years old. Them nurses say when rain fall, she does run out and play and play. And when rain ain’t fall they had to give her a tub of water to play in.”
Lemme tell you, after this, computer problems delete from my mind that night.
Friday morning bright and early I been trying to kill a fly...or rather, my mother having breakfast and ordering me to kill the fly that bothering she.
The fly refuse to sit still to get kill. My mother saying, “Ketch it, look it there, kill it, nah! My hand more accurate than yours.”
I saying, “Why you don't come and kill it then?”
She say, “I can’t, I having breakfast.”
So there me is, chasing fly, she calmly eating breakfast and directing me where and how to kill the fly away from her. And the fly refuse to cooperate. My mother say she really hates flies.
I say, “You should mind a big fat crapaud to eat flies for you...one of them big fat toad with warts on they back, when dawg or cat bite them, the dawg or cat die.”
I tell she how in oz they got the terrible cane toad, and if I ain’t wrong, them Aussies did first take them toad there to control something, but the environment don’t have what it takes to control the toad so they overrun the place.
I say, “Maybe them Aussies should come here to study what it is we have in our environment that control them toad...if is the same kind of toad.”
My mother say, “We don’t have one darn thing to control them...
...They just scared of Guyanese.”