Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lady In The Looking Glass

They were talking politics on the television, Middle Eastern nations, the current administration and that man so spoken about; the mastermind behind the destruction of the trade centers…they said that he had permission to kill ten million more.

I wondered if I would be afraid should death arrive like a swift nuclear breeze upon my city. My heart was Brooklyn; my core another country on another continent, which contained things like cashew, guava and Suriname cherry trees. No, I was not afraid of death. Even though I felt that I had not known life enough. I was not afraid of death. If the breeze reached my nude body as it stood under a hot shower unsuspecting and defenseless…it would be divine will. I was not afraid of death.

Was she afraid, the woman that I visited the next day? This woman who held some of the secrets to my genetic code and had seen the inner sides of nine decades could not have been afraid. She may have had some anxiety though. I had heard somewhere that one becomes anxious as one’s destination comes into sight. She spoke things with finality. She stared often into the distance. She sang hymns that she knew from memory. She read romance novels and medical self-help books with equal relish. She moved with painful precision. She had raised a generation of adults, and raised another generation after. She had governed yet a third generation from a respectful distance and was satisfied. There could be nothing existing that could frighten her now.

I sat across from her, thinking that enough could not be written about this woman; wondering if it was not but a moment ago when she held my mother in her arms, and me. Now we laughed as she ate the bakes that I had made in my very own kitchen – following her instructions. I poured the flour into the bowl. I filled a wide pot with oil. I put a generous helping of sugar and baking power into the bowl. I added warm water and made the dough. Everyone had his own method of making them. In a few hours when the dough swelled a little, I would stand in front of the stove to fry the pieces of dough I had cut and rolled. It was not lost on me the fact that no one would be sitting on my couch smiling as I brought in the meal; no one to eat it as I sipped my Heineken and waited for a verdict on taste. Still, I never approved of pity parties and so I snapped out of it. Besides, there was nothing to feel sorry about. Things would occur as they were designed to. I practiced patience in front of the stove and smiled at the thought that I would watch her eat the results the next day.

“It’s good…it taste good,” she said. I smiled like a five-year old, knowing that she was probably refraining from commenting on the fact that she could taste slightly too much baking powder in the bake. We talked about my week. We talked about her week. We sipped green tea mango iced-tea. She asked questions about online banking and listened with mistrusting interest to my explanations and reassurances that it was safe. We talked about my nephew – a good baby she said. She knew about babies. We sipped green tea mango iced-tea. How much time you have left at that daytime location? She wanted to know. “Not too much longer,” I answered…thinking about it. I wondered about my own direction. I wondered if it were true that she was moving slower than she was the last time I saw her. But then again, I thought that thought every time I saw her. Who was the one that was really anxious? “The time will fly out,” she said confidently, stretching her piano-playing hands out to look at her painted nails. She knew about time and other things. I still had much to learn. We sipped green tea mango iced-tea.

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