Now Playing Tracks

A mother’s prayer (by Tina Fey)

 First, Lord: No tattoos.

            May neither Chinese symbol for truth or Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU sign stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged

            For it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered

            May he remember the parents who cut her grapes in half.

            And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

            When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing near the subway platform, crossing 86th street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country road while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-costers, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop”, “Tower of Torture”,  or “The Death Spiral Rock N’ Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith”, and standing on any balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but all the way to Finance.

            Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes.

            And not have to wear high heels.

            What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums of the fiery rhythm of the Own Heart

            With the sinewy strength of her Own Arms,

            So she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.

            Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long.

            For Childhood is short- a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And Adulthood is long and Dry-Humping in Cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever,

            That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers

            And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girl Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister,

            Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends,

For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord.

            That I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 am, all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

            “My mother did this for me once” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck.

            “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over as it does each generation and she will make a mental note to call me. And she will forget.

But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Amen

(copyright from “Bossypants” by Tina Fey)

Road to motherhood

Chapter 1: I don’t really like this that much. 

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day I felt that I was pregnant. Pretty much the old story: my period (which is pretty regular) failed to come on the date that it was supposed to (which was a Thursday). Friday came and nothing came…. And then on Saturday I woke up and the first thought that popped to my head was: “Hey stop lounging on this bed; you’re pregnant dummy!”. And the ensuing process of buying pregnancy tests and bla bla bla…well all the pregnancy tests (EPT, First Response) were all positive so got a blood test and yeap…POSITIVE!! Pregnant!!

I wasn’t really expecting it…there were times when I was hoping for it and well my fiancé was always cautious about the whole thing, but that time he didn’t….It’s kinda my fault; I misread the freaking “My cycle” calendar and got busy during the DANGER period (ovulation was ongoing, mint to regular green on app). And well I got pregnant and well I didn’t know how I felt about it…it’s kinda one of those things that just happen and since it already happened there isn’t much to say. I was asked if I was ready for this and I mechanically answered “Yes” because…well because at this point, not being ready would be non sensical. So yeah I guess I was ready…I am ready.

But I was definitely not ready for the whole morning sickness shit which might I add should be changed to “ALL FREAKING DAY SICKNESS”. Gradually nausea set in and I tried to control it, doing some Jedi mind tricks, reciting the “Mind Over Body” mantra that worked wonders for one of my cousins until it just didn’t work anymore and I just let the flood of puking out. I mean I could take my sense of smell changing, my diet changing on me; I could stand going to bed as early a “poule” but the puking I could never get used to. I still can’t. I tried different tactics to no avail: ginger ale, breath mints. Adjusting my diet to cope with the puking was one of the worst; foods I used to like I just couldn’t eat anymore. The good thing is that my diet went as organic as possible. The “manman doudou, papa cheri” guy would’ve been happy; my diet consists of earthy Haitian food…mostly rice and peas. But I feel so uncomfortable most of the times….

I don’t like change that much and this change…it is changing so much of me and I feel like sometimes I have not enough time to cope with all these changes. I have felt so bad that I’ve shut myself from family and friends. Staying at home, alone with my thoughts has been my way of coping and I’m not sure it is such a good thing. Bottom line is, I have felt so bad lately that I’ve scarcely had time to really enjoy my pregnancy. I have been told to keep high spirits, to keep happy thoughts but it’s not that obvious when you’re a vomiting air every morning (well air and something that looks like bile or something). I want to enjoy it so much; I am happy to be pregnant but I just want this baby to come out already somehow. If I could give birth to a perfectly healthy baby now, I would without a doubt. It’s just so hard; not recognizing myself, my feelings, my cravings anymore. Not being in control of my body, of what I want to eat, of when I want to sleep has been pretty hard. It’s just so hard.

But I think it’ll be worth it. In August, when this baby comes and I hold her or him (hoping for a “her” honestly) in my arms then I will know that it has all been worth it. Sometimes when I am kneeling over the toilet, puking my brains out, I am thinking of how this is all a process to make my body a more habitable place for my baby, so that she/he can grow strong and healthy and though I hate the puking, I tell myself that it is all in helping my baby grow the way he/she should and this relaxes me, even for a bit. But I am told that my baby feels the negativity so I try to send him/her happy thoughts, I talk to my belly sometimes, hoping that she/he hears and when I puke, I kinda scold him/her a little (“Hey c’mon man! I thought you’d help me out a bit; you know manmy doesn’t like the whole vomiting thing. Give her a break!”). I’m not sure it works but I still do it.

People are telling me that now is the time for me to start buying pregnancy clothes and shit. Honestly, I’d much rather start buying baby clothes and shit. Prepare for the little one and maybe get my mind off of how sick and uncomfortable I feel. But man do I hate these girls on facebook who kept posting pictures of themselves happily pregnant and radiantly withchild and posting about how this is the best time of their lives; so full of shit!! False advertisement to the fullest!! This shit is called a miracle of life for a reason; the changes that happen to your body to welcome this miracle is just overwhelming. Y’all need to tell a future mom that shit. Shit, that thing got me by surprise. I was so sick the first few weeks, that my mom joked that it’s a good thing that I am in a stable relationship and that I am old enough because had I been a teenager trying to hide that I’m sexually active (what does that even mean?), I would’ve been caught easily with all the puking and laying down. This shit is hard people; don’t get it twisted. But deep down, deep, deep down, you just know that it will be worth it and you get filled with this new sensation that just hits out of nowhere sometimes and makes you feel so emotional: I am about to be a mom….

 

01-31-2013, 12 weeks 4 days. Size of a plum.

The man on the Mural.

If on this route by chance or by choice

Beware of the man in the white suit

If u stare too long, you’ll hear his voice

And before long, you’ll taste his  forbidden fruit

My cheek lay on the cold wall as my assailants push my face onto it. I scream and they pull me by my kinky hair and push my face on the wall again, harder this time. I taste blood in my mouth and my ears are ringing. I beg them to stop, to take my bag, and the money I had but to leave me alone. “Yeah we’ll gladly take your money bitch but we’re here to take some other things as well” says a bulky man, with dirty clothes and a dirty look. The other two laugh, amused, excited, titillated, scared. A skinny one, with pointy hair adds with a trembling voice: “You have so many gifts!” Athough in pain, I can’t help but cringe at the mention of that word, gifts. Here we go again with the gifts, those “gifts” that were given to me and that were ultimately my doom….

I never asked for much in life. I did not ask to be given all that I am given, not asked to go through all that I have gone through. But as much as I did not ask for much in life, it has made it its mission to shower me with things (I believe they are called “gifts” by everyone else), things that, ironically, I had absolutely no use for…. “Bondye konn bay; li pa konn separe”

I was born on a February 29th from a mother who worked as a cleaning lady in one of the many NGOs that have taken over the country like a bad case of gangrene and from one of her colleague/employer, an African engineer/wannabee Casanova. She figured their story would last forever and that he would take her back to his country, the motherland; he figured she was after his money and gullible enough to think that he would take her back to his country. Their love lasted the 6 months of his contract and by the time he left, with a thousand stories to tell his friends back home, she was 2 months pregnant, with no employment, as news of her affair had been found out in the office and her services, no longer needed after my father’s departure (fired). She could’ve had an abortion, but refused, intent on having this baby, convinced that her African prince charming would come back and take her and their child with him to his country, away from the slum and the filth of Port-au-Prince.

I didn’t ask to be born but I was born, on an unlikely date from an unlikely father, so I thought. After my second birthday, my mother who was living with her younger sister asked her to watch me while she went outside to buy a can of milk. She never returned; oh she didn’t die. She just left, abandoned us (me). I heard she’s a big time prostitute in Petion-Ville. I sometimes wonder if she ever thinks of me. I am angry at her; not because she abandoned me but because she could’ve saved herself the trouble if she had only aborted because I didn’t ask for life and yet she gave it to me and it has been rendered useless as far as I’m concerned.

I am now 18 years old and for many I am beautiful. I have dark brown skin with no blemishes, courtesy of my African father, according to my aunt. People say that my eyes are as wide as a gazelle’s; my nose straight, thinner than most Haitians or Africans. I think that my mouth is too big and large; others say that it is round, intriguing, inviting, dangerous, cursed etc. With my medium height and my slender frame, my beauty has been a  never ending subject up for  debate; not whether I am really beautiful or not but rather whether my beauty is safe or dangerous, heaven sent or hell bound, normal or magic etc. I have been continually questioned about my origins, as I have continually questioned the point of all those “gifts” that were bestowed upon me. Indeed what good is this beauty if I live in “ Siro Kann” one of the poorest slums in  Port-au-Prince, right before La Saline (or after depending on where you’re coming from). See my point with the whole ironic part of it all?

My aunt, out of love for me, took me in and took care of me as much as she could. She was probably the only person I did not ask life for but that I was glad to have anyway. She has been the one who did her best to shield me from the morbid curiosity that the outside world seemed to have for me. When she would take me out to school or to church, she’d hold my hand the whole way, walking fast, instructing me not to look at anybody or to answer anybody’s remarks or questions. I would be amazed at the amount of profanities that would come of her mouth when many inquired of who I was and why I was so beautiful in such a horrible place. When it came to me, she was a lioness defending her cub and in my mind, I was her cub. But as she grew older, she grew weaker and could not protect me from the world, as much as she wanted to. And so when it came time for me to go out to the streets by myself each outing was a torment. People would sometimes follow me, unsure whether I was real or just a figment of their imagination. Other would try to stop me and ask me questions. I was not as strong (rude) as my aunt so I just did not answer, pretending I was deaf and could not hear. For some I was the incarnation of a voodoo goddess; I doubted it as I was not as courageous or strong as these goddesses were said to be.

After a particular incident where I was cornered by some fervent, church ladies, determined to forcefully (against my will) make me accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, I began to take a longer route, safer (away from the Jesus squad) to get home. And that’s where I saw him for the first time, immobile, beautiful, mysterious, dangerous, magic. A man, dressed in a stylish white suit, with a crisp white shirt under a white smoking vest and a white suit. So beautiful, so magnificent; I was only thirteen when I first saw him, across a busy street and I was drawn to him….hypnotized, I crossed the streets, careless of the passing cars, of the horns and the profanities with which my imprudence was met. He looked so real, and it was only when I got to the other side of the street (safely) that I realized that he was immobile because he was on a mural but he was so lifelike that I stood there, unable to walk away, unable to even breathe, just in admiration in front of him. Right then and there, I decided that “he” was my best friend and surely he was, as I tried to share everything with him. I was sure that he could hear the battles, fears, questions raging inside of me and I imagined that I could hear his voice. I shared everything with him and he was always there with me…..

Peculiar how this is true as my cheek lay on that wall (mural) and my panties are ripped out by hungry hands; as I faced this troubling experience, aware of every detail, he was there and my cheek lay on his chest….my face was pressed on the very same mural, of the man in the white suit, the man who I considered my best friend. And he stood there watching, immobile, beautiful and silent….I try to move my eyes up to his face to look again at his slightly smiling, slightly serene, slightly mischievous face and as our eyes meet, an excruciating pain snaps me back to reality and causes me to scream my lungs out. My hair is grabbed again and my face pushed to the wall again, with more violence than before. “Shut up!” says the bulky man. I feel a pain unlike everything I ever felt before; like an epidemic, it has spread to my soul as the last remnants of my innocence are taken away from me by a panting, moaning scum. I look up at the man in the white suit as tears fall from my eyes. The magnitude of the pain is making hallucinate as his perpetual smile and serenity is replaced by a look of pure sadness and sorrow. Could he be experiencing the pain and humiliation that I was feeling as this man raped me? My heart, already beating faster than usual, suddenly peaks. I want to cry out for help but who would hear me? I was not supposed to be out that late but my aunt’s arthritis pain was unbearable and I had to go by her pain killing medicine. The unfairness of the situation adds to the pain that I already feel inside but it was late (9:45 PM) and I should’ve known better. There was no soul in sight, no one could help me. “I can help you” says a voice inside of me, but too faint for me to hold on to it for strength. As the big guy stops his assault, his penis throbbing inside of me, I look up again as I feel a droplet of water fall on my face. Rain?

“What the fuck is going on? What the hell are you guys doing?” I hear someone say. They mumble curses about how they were just getting started and ran off. I fall on my knees on the ground as a man approaches and asks with concern: “Are you ok miss? What were they doing to you? Were they…?. I couldn’t utter a word, barely could make out his face as one of my eyes was beaten shut. It was a middle aged with his face disfigured with worry and disgust. I close my eyes, unable to speak: “Let me die!” I think “I didn’t ask for this!”. “No; you can’t die!” answers a man’s voice, in my head. I open my eyes as I am carried away and look at the man with the white suit on the mural; a drop of water was running down his cheek…..

The events after that are mostly a blur. At some point, I was in my aunt’s house where I was carried. I hear her voice, wailing, crying, cussing, calling my name “Celia, Celia” and demanding explanations from other people that only I could provide. I am taken to a health center near by where a concerned foreign doctor from “Doctors without borders” did her best to assist me and help out with the external wounds (what about the wound to my soul) that I had. She looked at me like all other people used to look at me, with admiration and fear; I doubted that I looked “beautiful” with my face swollen. She sighed and grabbed a bag from a small desk and pulls out pills called PEP. “Take this ok? This will protect from the HIV virus!” she says with a heavy accent, tears in her eyes. I try to say something but it hurts to talk. She quickly says: “Don’t thank me! No worry!”. I think “I don’t want to thank you. I didn’t ask for this; I didn’t ask for any of this.” I am ultimately taken to my house, a small two room place, exceptionally unharmed after the earthquake of January 12 2010.  I stay home, unable to go out much more not to preoccupy my aunt then out of fear. Around the neighborhood, bickering neighbors have come together to protect their daughters; word around the neighborhood is that if I, such a beautiful girl, could get raped and brutalized like I was, then their daughters (plain, ordinary) would surely be killed. The three men are identified, as Gera, Yvens and Weston from another neighborhood about 15 blocks away. They have said to be in hiding as all the surrounding neighborhood know about their act and intent on making them pay (actually more intent on preventing them from doing harm in their own families). And I am left with the scars….

My physical scars healed quickly, adding more the already ongoing freak show that my life has turned into. Claims that I have made pacts with the devil, that my “lwa” helped me recover started going around. My aunt, ashamed of her being the reason why I went out that fateful night, avoids talking to me. I am even more alone than I ever been. I am now damaged goods. I have nightmare that weirdly are more about how the man in the mural looked the night I got raped rather than the rape itself. I could remember things that I couldn’t quite make sense of; how I felt heartbeat as my cheek was on the wall, how the man in the mural seemed to have a tear rolling down his cheek.

I started to hallucinate, concerning my self with things that were insane (in the normal world). I became angry, at the man in the white suit, this man on this mural who was supposed to be my friend, my best friend. The time when I could escape my aunt and get out of the house and out of Siro Kann, I went to this street where the mural stood. I stayed on the street across; he was there, still as he was before, same smile and serenity on his face. I stood there watching him and murmured: “You abandoned me! You betrayed me!”. “I didn’t!” answers a male voice in my head. I look at the mural again, and see the face expression change into sadness, remorse. I took one last look and ran back home, afraid of how I was navigating between the lines of reality and fantasy (sanity and insanity).

I have become frailer as days go by, eating only to keep myself from fainting. Life never had much meaning for me but after this, its purpose was all gone. Nights were the worst as I had complete conversions with myself, to my aunt’s dismay.

_ “I didn’t ask for any of this!” I said one night, while lying in my bed.

_ “You should be patient! Good things come to those who wait; you will know the purpose of your life soon!” Answers the male voice in my head.

_ “Fuck you! You’re one to talk! Standing by while letting this horrible thing happen to me.” I answer unnerved

_ “I did not stand and watch. I couldn’t do anything Celia!”

_ “Yeah you couldn’t do anything! I answered, choking back tears. You’re a mural!”

_ “No Celia. That’s not the reason for my inaction!” Answered the voice, with sadness.

_ “No shit! I yelled. So what’s the reason then? Please enlighten me! What’s the reason for your “inaction” as you call it? I call it cowardice!”

_I could not do anything because you didn’t ask me to help, Celia.

_Fuck you! I’m going to sleep, hum…

It dawned on me that I did not even know his name. I continued:

“ I Don’t even know your name! You’re not real; what I feel this is real. You abandoned me! It’s too late to help now! It’s too late to do something. It’s just too late!”

As I lay down, slowly falling asleep, with a soft wind blowing, I felt a soft and hard, cold touch caress my cheek and drying a tear on it. As I slowly open my eyes, I saw a man leaning over my bed, his hand on my cheek, his face beautiful, flawless chocolate, with long black dreads. He smiled a serene, friendly, trusting but determined smile. He was wearing a white suit: a stylish white suit, with a crisp white shirt under a white smoking vest and a white suit. He looked at me and said in a voice now familiar to me:

_My name is Jean Michel! And my dear Celia, it is not too late to do something; it is not too late to help! All you have to do is ask me; ask me to help you, ask what you need and I shall give it to you! Your life will finally have a purpose lovely Celia.

I gasped…..

Emmanuelle Déryce

The Earthquake that changed everything…and nothing

January 12, 4:54 PM, 7.1 magnitude earthquake…..the earth shook and our core trembled….. debris, people dead, desperation, stuck under rubble……the sky turned gray within minutes, thick with dust coming from fallen building…..desperation over whereabouts of family members, friends….the anxiety following the quake for some was much worse than the quake itself. Mortifying, devastating, painful wonders, devastating truth, denial, resentment, unity….. As the streets of Port-au-Prince rivaled scenes from apocalyptic movies, fellow Haitians united in sorrow and in hope because witnessing such an abrupt end to lives and habits that comforted us in their normalcy tends to have that effect on people. Some things are considered pointless while others are ranked higher….return to a simpler, kinder way of life…..

And life continues, and blackouts are less frequent; telephone services are restored, business open their doors, people hesitantly try to regain even a hint of social life….Port-au-Prince tries to poke a hole through the rubble of desperation and fear….and the blackouts are less frequent; telephone services start giving more options, businesses offer more products, people immerse themselves in their activities….Port-au-Prince is picking up the pieces and building itself up to a new city….under rubble….

Because, in retrospect, not much has changed. We can kid ourselves into thinking that we have become better but we have stayed the same. And in our case, it only makes it worse. Telephone services are restored and prices are incredibly high, people immerse themselves in a decadent and perverse way of life, made more acceptable under tents and tarpaulins. People see misery….and shut their eyes.

Unity, union….gone! I wonder if they ever even existed. While we all embraced our neighbor, helped them out on Jan 12, it was not long until we became just as cold, uncaring and prejudiced as we were before that day. Oh the delightful effects of a catastrophe….how unfortunate that such a disaster is the only catalyst to goodness and good deeds…. The kindness of strangers, of neighbors to whom you’ve never even given the honor of a “good morning”….where is it now? We must have been high on that Tuesday…jan 12…..or I guess expecting at any minute the violence of a tsunami or the descent of a shiny chariot from the sky with God in it will tend to have that effect on people…..the urgency to do good, while you still had the chance….was it propelled by the fear of being on the bad pile (when God separates those of who have been good and those who have been bad into two piles) or by the want of being good for goodness sake? Whether one case or the other, it is now gone….gone as the after-shocks occur less and less…..the fear of another one gradually being one, we resettle into our homes……they’ are marked with yellow and red people……yellow = should be repaired….red = should be torn down…. They don’t mean “if it’s standing I can stay in it, whether it’s marked yellow or red!”…..but more often than not, it’s not imprudence……just cause of a fact…. Fact: I don’t have any where else to go……Cause: I will then stay in a house marked yellow or red.

Unity, union, goodness of heart and act….gone. Of all the images stuck in my head from that day Jan 12 and the day after was the memory of man, in a pickup truck, randomly picking up pedestrians to give them a ride…..without needing a remuneration….families living in a same house……eating together….brought together by a catastrophe and the gratefulness that none of them had perished….it was not long before the little quirks, tendencies, things that we call “defects” start to get on our nerves…..”Must she talk like that?” “Why does he act like that?”…” What an hypocrite!” “What an asshole!” …..and so union and unity, goodness of heart and act disappear as our old “selves” reappear….. to justify our behavior, we say that closeness and proximity destroy relationships….. and the good deeds are forgotten and people are hated over the same stupid things that we vowed to forget and forgive on that faithful day…Jan 12….oh the delightful effects of a disaster…. “I understand the why of this behavior even if it irritates me and I will overlook it and I won’t pay it no mind.” …is replaced by…. “If you even try to come to my face with that shitty behavior and expect me to buckle, I will put my foot so far up your ass…..” The hell with unity, union….bitterness and division is much more easy and the effects …oh the effects are much more dangerous and lasting than a 7.1 quake….. I guess one way to look at it is to say that we can overcome a earthquake since we can cause things with a much more destructive consequence only with the power of our speech and actions…..

And we go on in life…living as we once did not realizing that there are consequences to our actions or worse…knowing that there are consequences but simply…just…not…give…a…fuck….in the tradition of Chris Rock when he said of Bush “If you were hanging over a cliff and the only that thing that could save you was a fuck and Bush had a pocket full of fucks….he wouldn’t give it to you!”…..this is a joke….our situation is real…..because all we needed….all we need to survive, to live, is for our people to give a fuck….and they have pockets full of fucks….but just won’t give one….and we become even more careless with our lives, with our health because “Microbe pa tuye Haitien!”…..yeah we live by the premise that something so small as a bacteria could not have the power to kill us, for we have a mighty sun that kills them before they could even affect us….but wait a minute…..October, November, mysterious death….diarrhea, vomiting and after maximum 4 hours, death….cause….vibrio cholerae….in other words….cholera….yeah I guess bacteria ARE starting to kill us…..brought to us by the foreigners who have come here to assist us….we blame them, and they are to blame since it has been proven that it came from them….but are they to blame for the fact that we drink water directly from rivers and river beds……..are they to blame that while we are drinking this water, we are also washing our clothes, our dishes in those rivers and river beds……are they to blame for the fact that we also SHIT in those same rivers and river beds……WAKE UP!!! Had our habits been better, safer, healthier, CLEANER the number of deaths by cholera would not have been so grand….consequences….

And now we move towards chosing a leader…..still overwhelmed with the myth of “the messiah president”, we hope that whoever takes office and is elected to sit on that famous “fauteuil presidentiel” will deliver us from all the decadence in which we strive….what a joke…..the popular musician accustomed to going on uncensored diatribes,crossdressing,  pulling his pants down at performances against the former first lady who was once elected to the senate but renounced because her husband, who was running for president, was not elected….it has all come down to the lesser of 2 evils….who will be “less” bad…..or just like one acuqaintance so dearly put it : “Dog shit VS Cat shit!”…..what…a….joke….

After Jan 12, I used to say that we have reached the bottom as a people and that there were no other way to go but up….I now see that I might have been wrong. We have reached the bottom of bottoms and there is a way to go up……but we don’t seem to really see the importance of doing so…and so we build our lives, our properties, our hopes and dreams, our future, in this bottom of bottoms and delude ourselves into thinking that we are improving…….an underground city, exemplary in its filth, corruption, deception, misery…..we don’t even aspire to going up….rise up…….more like rise downward……towards the abyss…..and when things get tough and overwhelming, we let our frustration out with a sigh and we say : “ 12 Janvier….January 12…..7.1…..4:54PM”….the earthquake and its related its colloquialisms have become part of us as we express disgust, beauty or ugliness, state of mind with, fissures, rubbles etc…” You look ugly” =  “Your face is all fissured” or “You look like you’ve just been pulled out from under rubble”. “I’m sad” = “ My heart is fissured”…..well I guess I am fissured that in the grand scheme of this earthquake, when it was time to chose the red pill or the blue pill….the improvement pill or the decadence pill, we chose the decadence one…..the building under rubble one…..so much for learning something…….

Emmanuelle Deryce

 



The Earthquake that changed it all…

Where were you when you first heard of Lady Diana’s death? Where were you when news of mother Theresa’s passing hit the airways? Where were you when on September 11th 2001, the twins towers collapsed? Where were you on January 12th 2010, when the 7.2 earthquake hit Port-au-Prince?…….

……. My feet sprawled on a chair, I switch the channel after watching a movie of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus. Touching movie….now “El gordo y la flaca”….my little cousin is in front of me and I’m looking over on her homework. “I have to call him as soon as I’m done with her.”…..then it hit……..things shaking…..she looks at me, eyes wide with terror. I look back calm as ever. “It’ll surely pass soon!” I think. And then, almost as to shatter my illusion of safety, it hit harder………..harder than I ever felt……the full length mirror in the room seems to be walking…..i get up and grab her, as she seems to be paralyzed….think, think…….my mind is racing………..fight or flight…….adrenaline racing….pupils are probably dilated. I call for my other cousin, who came home from school early today because of a small fire that erupted there….she has had a rough day….think, think………in the event of a earthquake, stay beneath doors…under tables……..GET OUT!!! ……..the house is now shaking and swaying……mostly to the right…..fast sways between shakes……..I can only get to the hallway leading to the stairs……tables are moving…..the water cooler is on the floor…….the noise is deafening…… I hold my two cousins, each in one arm and think ………think fast…….. “It’s shaking too hard, the house is swaying too much! We’re on the first floor!! If I try to get them downstairs, they can break a leg or their necks! I need to think fast! We need to get out of here! Oh my God, where is the youngest? The youngest of my cousins is only 6 years old. Where is she?” And it continues to shake, the house continues to sway…….rapid sways to the left and then left and right……left and right……….. that’s it. This is it! We’re all going to die!……Oh my God, my mother!! I won’t see her again, I’ll leave her. I don’t want to leave her. I just came back from a 3 years absence, I can’t jus t leave her now, not like this and him….can life be so cruel as to take me away from him…….I’ve been searching from him for so long, in so many others…….now I’ve found him……my heart tells me so…..now I actually can see the whole married life thing I so vehemently despised….. now I imagine the beauty of it all and life is about to take away that chance from me….I love him….please, grant me a little bit of life…. Enough to love him more…..to be with him…….enough to change………..to stop being so proud and resentful……..to apologize to those I’ve hurt….to apologize to her for thinking the worst of her………..to apologize to him for not being the friend I should have been…….please God, just let me live a little more…… “Just stay calm!” I say to my cousins. They’re yelling, they’re screaming…….I can’t scream, I have to think….. “Just stay calm! It’ll pass! Let’s just wait ‘till it pass!” I say with an authority I never knew I had…. And it continues to shake…..and the house continues to sway, left and right…..left and right……..and for once it hears me……the shaking stops kind of gradually and also abruptly….. how I don’t know; it’s just how it felt……and the silence……..deafening…..it lasts just a few seconds but enough to seal itself in your mind and remain a constant memory…….haunting……Now think quick…. “Let’s go! We have to get out!” I say…….. the youngest, where is she? …….. I call for her…..”She’s downstairs! She’s safe!”….. “C’mon! Let’s go!” I tell them……..water is falling…….the gallon of water is on the floor and water is running down the stairs……..I lift it up while my cousins proceed down the stairs….” Careful!” I tell them. “Take the youngest and stay out of the house!”…..I feel a sudden pain on the sole of my feet….glass………I was barefoot…..didn’t even realize I was barefoot………downstairs they are all outside, safe……….but plates are on the floor………they fell from the cabinets……….and a crack……..a huge crack on the kitchen’s wall……..u can see the living room through the crack……from the left side up to the right side down…… “We cannot stay in this house during the day!” she cries hysterically. We have to get out…… “let’s go!” I tell them. We try to get out of from the left side but too much rocks on the floor, the house seems to be leaning on its side….too dangerous…….let’s get out through the front…..front door seems to be jammed……..the house is leaning on it…..we might be trapped……..no the other side……….let’s get out from the other side…..and they are all outside……all of the people from the neighborhood……fear is written all over their face……fear more than surprise….. fear…….what happened? Was it only here? Then the first victims…….covered with dust and blood……. News of collapsed buildings, houses……..news of the first deaths…….. A priest died with his nieces and nephews….the house collapsed on them…….. all of us in the neighborhood move to an open space across the street……….stay away from buildings, from walls………the street goes from silent to filled with cars in a matter of minutes…….. Where is my mother? Why isn’t she back yet? Where was she when it hit? She suffers from hypertension; if she felt this earthquake, her heart might give out…my boyfriend………where is he? Is he at work? Is he at school? I need to get to him…..I go back into the house, and look at the damages…..cracks everywhere…….plates, cups on the floor…. I race up the stairs and look for my sneakers………the tv is on the floor……..face down………water everywhere…….. I lift it up and they call for me outside……I grab my sneakers and my laptop…..race down the stairs and outside……it hit again it seemed……..while I was in the house……I didn’t feel it…….I have to go look for him……..but my cousins need me so I stay……..cars and people in the streets……I see my childhood friend….. I’ve known her since I was 3 years old…….she’s limping…..she looks lost……. I hug her crying…..she looks lost…. Her eyes……..filled with sorrow……..another aftershock hits…..she wants me to leave with her…… “I can’t! I have to wait for my mom! I have to wait for him!” She takes out running…….I don’t know what happened to her…….I don’t understand why she was limping……..why she had that look in the eyes……it will only be days later that I will find out that she witnessed helpless as her school collapsed with her friends inside……People and cars in the streets……some people are rejoicing…… “We’ve told you that God is angry at you but you wouldn’t believe us! Now you see the proof! Now you see that we are living in the last days! God is coming back! And only the just will be saved! Repent now! We’ve told you but you wouldn’t believe!”………why are they so vicious…….could they be right? Is God punishing us? Is God punishing me? Will I lose those I hold so dear…….where is my mother? Where is my boyfriend? OH my God, where is my best-friend? Was she at work? Was she home? I saw a message from her on facebook………..where is she? Where is my family? Where are they? God please, let them be alive……….Please…….I know I don’t pray much………I know I doubt that you even exist sometimes………but somehow I know you hear me…. Please let them be alive…….please grant me this… I’ll be better, I promise……I’ll cherish everything you gave me…….I’ll cherish everyone in my life………I beg you, please let them be alive……..I can’t live without her; she gave me life. I need her……….I can’t live without him…..I love him……I need him………..please keep them all safe. I know it’s a lot of people but please protect them please……..I’ll change…..I will stop being so proud, so resentful….i will stop holding grudges…….I’ll start forgiving………I’ll forgive him for leaving when I was 5 years old…… I’ll forgive him for not being there when I needed him………I’ll make amends………. I’ll apologize to her for having judged her so harshly………I’ll apologize to him for not understanding what he was going through……..I’ll apologize to them for not being a better friend…… I will, I promise I will…..please grant me this……you’ve granted me so much in the past…….grant me this too…… the earth is still shaking………aftershocks………please make them stop……..I know the science; they will never be as strong as the original one but please make them stop………Where are they? Where are they?

……He heard my prayers and he answered them………..they were all safe……….all I held dear…….they too were asking the same things……..some of them did not even feel the earthquake……she just saw rocks on the road on her way to see her boss’s family……it was a phone call that let her know what happened…… she imagined the worse………she walked from Petion-Ville to Turgeau and saw devastation everywhere she looked……When she got to the corner near Canado, the former school of her son, she broke down, collapsed on the floor and refused to move…… “They’re dead!” she yelled. “The house fell on them and they’re all dead!” Those who were with her helped her get to the street leading to her home…..she fell on her knees…..a man called out the name of her daughter…..she’s on her knees…….then she feels an embrace……she smells her favorite perfume……….she hears her voice, crying, broken: “Mom! OH mom!!” It’s her…….it’s my daughter……..she’s alive……….it’s her…. it’s my mother…… she’s alive! “But where are the others? Where are your cousins?” She asked frantically, almost in a trance….it looks like she’s about to have a nervous breakdown… What would she say to their parents? How would she explain their deaths?…….. “They’re alive! They are all alive! We’re all safe!”……Before she ran to see her mom, she was frantically trying to reach him. Phone lines are down. She’s trying, she’s calling……it was ringing when she heard someone call her name outside, telling her to come meet her mom…….she leaves the phone in the hands of someone and takes off running…………she doesn’t know that he picks up…….someone tells him who has been calling………. “Tell her I’m ok! Tell her everything is fine!” he says……..he felt it in his heart that she was ok but now is reassured even more now that she tried to call him……her….. I knew she was ok……..I had to think that she was ok…….one of the buildings of my school collapsed……….i had to go help………but the thought of her did not leave my mind……… “Please let her be safe!”……..she could not be dead…….. She is ok……….many people here aren’t…..I have to help them…..get them out under the rubbles…… but she is ok…….she has to be…..life could not be that unjust……God could not be that unjust……..

……God is not unjust…..we know this…….. but can we explain this to those who have lost all of their closed ones? God protected our loved ones…….what about their loves ones? What about those who got out of under the rubbles but could not save their family? What about them? What can you tell them??….Nothing….you can try to find words, you can try to utter words of sympathy, but you can’t really understand, understand the pain of it………unless you’ve experienced it yourself……..unless you’ve been under the rubbles and got out to tell the tale………

……..I don’t know how and why I’m sitting on this sofa……it’s the sofa in my office……..but I was at my desk……..how did I get to the sofa……. Let me retrace my step……..I was sitting at my desk, going over some papers with some other employees and then it hit…….. I felt the ground and everything around me shake and then………..and then nothing…….. I can’t remember how I sat on the sofa adjacent to my desk…..weird……….the two other employees are sitting on the sofa next to me….what happened? I have to call home……….let them know that my building seemed to have collapsed but that I am ok……I am safe…….for now………My phone is ringing…..my daughter, calling from abroad……….. “Mom where are you? I am worried: I saw news of the earthquake! Where are you?”………..Earthquake…….this was an earthquake………….and I’m under rubbles………….my daughter………I have to tell her where I am……….she’s strong, she’ll understand………..You need to call your father, call as much people as you can. Tell them I’m ok, but I’m under rubbles……..Everything is going to be fine……….if not………….I love you…… How did I get here? Why am I sitting on this sofa? How did this happen?……

…..How did this happen? I was answering a math question on this placement test and next thing you know, shaking and total darkness………I think I must have blacked out……….where am I? It seems like I’m laying down? I have to get up………I can’t get up………something is keeping me from getting up…… what is this weight I feel over me……….I feel something on my foot………what is going on?…….. “Are you alright man?” says a man’s voice over me………over me……….on top of me………..what the hell? …………this weight on top of me…………it’s a person……….. “I’m sorry if I’m crushing you! I don’t know how I got here! I think the school collapsed! There seemed to have been an earthquake!” says the voice………..an earthquake……..what the hell? Where is my family? …………I need to know if they’re ok………..But I can’t move…………people over me, something on my foot……….call my sister………….let her know I’m alive, that I’m well, I’m just under rubbles……… ask her to come get me…………..where is my sister? Is she even alive?………..there seems to be many people on top of me……..5 people……….5 guys….talk about awkward situation……. My sister shows up with my uncle and some friends……………they’re going to get me out………….I feel dizzy………thirsty………….sleepy…………scared……………is this going to be my coffin? I can’t breathe at time…….I’m on the bottom…………..I’m probably going to die…………..they’re trying to get to me, they’re helping the guys on top of me………3 of them are dead………one of them is still talking…..still alive………..they get him out…………he dies on the sidewalk……..on the pavement………..they’re not going to get to me…………I am going to die…………I have so much more to do…….so much more places to go………Can this be my last day God?…………Could it? …………It wasn’t………….It wasn’t my last day……….they succeeded in getting me out under the rubbles………but all 5 guys who were on top of me died………all five of them………….they were passing me water to sustain me………..they were talking to me to keep me awake and alert…………and they died……….why ?………..why did this happen………How did they get me out?

…………How did they get me out? They called our names all night…………we answered as loud as we could……………with every aftershocks we got more and more somber………. I stayed strong for the others……..the other employees were panicking……. “I am my mother’s only child!” one says hysterically…… “What will happen to my children?” another says frantically………..I tell them to trust in God……just trust in God and stay calm………there is no room for panic…………there is no room to panic…….literally………….we are restrained to our seat on the sofa………..we can’t go anywhere, we can’t get up, we can’t do anything………they called for us all night……..I talked to all of my children……..it’s hard to get a hold of them usually but today I got to talk to all of them……..maybe this is an omen………this is a sign that I’m going to die……..they got to hear my voice for the last time……..They called for us all night………no all morning…………it’s seems like it’s day……..but we don’t know…………it’s dark where we are……..we almost lost track of time………….they called for us and we answered…………..they found a way to get near my office……….. I take something and start banging………. “Follow the bangs!” I tell them……….they find us…………..they manage to create a hole……..we have to crawl to get out……they encourage us, joke with us to keep us from falling apart…….. “As soon as you get out, I’m marrying you!” one of the men says……..I manage to smile through the fear ………and they get us out…….I don’t know how they did it………….as I see the sun for the first time since yesterday, January 12, I can’t understand how they got us out………..as I watch the building where I came everyday to work, I can’t understand how they got us out………how did they get us out? How did we not die in there? The whole building collapsed……..how did we get out?………….

……How…………how did this happen? Why did this happen? How ? why? Why? Why?………….there are some questions that will remain unanswered…….there are sounds that will haunt us forever……….there are smells that will remind us of that day…….and there are the buildings or what is left of them…….those familiar settings, gone, vanished, reduced to rubbles……..the school where we spent the best years……….the church where our mothers used to drag us……….the other schools where are high school boyfriends/ girlfriends used to go to……….the supermarket you used to hang out in…………those places are gone, vanished, reduced to rubbles……. And houses, homes are no different……..childhood homes are on the ground or so badly hit that it is impossible to live in them………in a matter of seconds, our whole lives changed……..and in a matter of seconds, we changed………..we can never be the same after this day………..we can never see the world the same way after this day………we can try to recapture what we once had, try to be proud, resentful, angry, but deep down we know we are fooling ourselves……….we can never be the persons we were before……….we have to change……….it is inevitable………we have to see things differently………some say it’s the end…………they’re right; it is the end……..it was the end……….. “It’s the end of the world as we know it!” says a popular song…….it is……….the end of our world as we know it………the end of Haiti as we knew it……….it will never be the same………we will never be the same………we will change………we changed………for the better or the worst………. Life is flimsy……….only now do we fully understand when people say “Cherish everyone in your life! Do not take everything for granted! It can be taken away from you!”………yes indeed………so many people lost so many people in so little time……..33 seconds…….that’s all it took………..To these people I say………..I’m sorry………..I’m sorry for your loss………..I can say it and know that I mean it and that I understand the extent of what I am saying……..sorry……..so sorry that this happened……..so sorry that so many people died………..so sorry that help took so long to come……….so sorry that things had to change so quickly……….so sorry that it had to take something like this to make you realize how utterly stupid and immature your beliefs were……… we are at the lowest of states…….this country is at its lowest………….its LOWEST……….we are at our lowest…………I guess there are no other ways to go but up………..UP………

Emmanuelle Deryce. 

Umbrellas: An Essay on Family

When anybody that we knew traveled, my aunt would always ask them if they had enough space to carry umbrellas. She always wants to send over umbrellas, always. And I always wondered; why umbrellas? Why not food or something? And then today I understood why. I was standing outside, in the rain, half soaked, wondering why umbrellas never seem to keep us completely dry. No matter what, our feet, pants and bags always seem to get wet, regardless. What is the point then? I mean some umbrellas don’t even last long: it does not take long for the wires to poke out. Despite their wide variety, they never seem to keep us dry. Most umbrellas are small, full of beautiful colorful motives but can barely keep our head dry. Some are wider and have more capacity to keep us dry but are so big and sometimes heavy that we avoid carrying them. So I asked myself, what is the purpose of umbrellas? What is the point of having them if they can barely keep us dry when it rains? What’s the point of carrying them when we can’t count on them completely? And I thought about my aunt and how she would always go out of her way to send family members in Haiti umbrellas. Why umbrellas? Why send umbrellas to family members?

Then it dawned on me; somehow family members are just like umbrellas if not identical to umbrellas. They come in different sizes, packaging, and assortments. Just like an umbrella that works one day and has the wires poking out the next, some family members come through just for one occasion and are unreliable afterwards. Some will be like the umbrellas whose wires don’t poke out but are so small that they hardly keep us dry; like those family members that will hang around but can’t really help you, for one reason or the other. And some family members are like the big umbrellas, overbearing, towering, so much so that we avoid them or avoid having to rely on them because they are simply just too much, too domineering despite their ability to protect us from the rain. 

Just as umbrellas can’t completely protect us from the rain, family can’t completely protect and help us through the hardships of life. We can avoid the rain by staying home, in a dry place but sometimes we have to go out in the rain, to resume our activities because the rain is hardly a reason to not go on with our responsibilities. Just as the hardships and difficulties of life are not enough reason to give up and not move on. In comes the old reliable umbrella; we won’t come out of the rain completely dry because it is simply impossible. Our feet will always get wet, the hem of our pants will almost always get soaked. We can never come out of life’s adversities unscathed. But we always need umbrellas. And just like umbrellas manage to keep our head, torso and thighs dry, family, as different and various as they may be, will keep us from completely crumbling under the pressures of life’s struggles. Because no matter what, at the end of the day, in some rains, it’s better to have a small umbrella with even the wires sticking out then nothing to cover us. 

And the rain cleans the air: adversities contribute to our growth, because it is such growth that will ultimately teach us how to more effectively protect ourselves from the “rain”. And as time goes on, we will learn to harm ourselves with raincoats and rainboots, those articles that will completely keep us dry and protected, warm and comfortable. Now I’m sure we all have a clear idea of who in our lives are the raincoats and rainboots. The people that will always come through for us …… Yeah, those people who right now, this very instant, as you associate them with the always dependable raincoat, bring a warm smile on your face…..

Emmanuelle Deryce

To Tumblr, Love Pixel Union