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  • It is raining hard.

    I make a dash from my house and run across the road which is now a river. I'll come back to play in it and get ringworm but for now, I want to be with Joycee and her family.

    I scale the gate and hook my toes in the iron squares to boost myself over. It's slippery but I've done this a thousand times. I haul my little body over, crotch wet from straddling the iron bar at the top and I don't climb the whole way down; it's easier to just jump from the second or third row of squares.

    It is so early and everyone is still asleep but I'll happily wait in the yard. I never considered this place anything but my house too.

    Joycee opens the louvres by her stove and she asks if I eh have no bed to be in.


    Joycee and Sam have four children and they are my sisters and my brother. I have my own family but I have known them from across the road for my entire life. My mother tells me of how Roger would play his little, yellow steelpan when she was pregnant with me and it used to give her a headache. I laugh now. That steelpan was around for a long time after and we would play it and the dog, Sugar, would howl.

    Joycee looked after me. Well, I was always in her house and in her face and so what they ate, I ate and when it was bathtime, I too was in the outside sink at the back being washed down with Pears soap. Yes, the kind of see-through soap bar.

    Thank you, Joycee for scolding us when you caught us stealing the pieces of coconut you roasted behind the house. Your coconut milk was the best for your pelau. I enjoyed helping milk the grated coconut after you roasted it. Pity most of it was in my tummy before it reached that stage.

    Thank you for making me laugh when you used to steal Sam's cigarettes although you did not really smoke. You made a funny face as you swished the smoke around your mouth and never inhaled...just blew it out.

    Thank you for teaching me to watch my manners when I ALWAYS licked the plate after a meal.

    Thank you for taking me to watch the Carnival Bands in Port of Spain with Mabel in her jeep.

    Thank you for letting me watch television in your home and for chasing me home when darkness approached.

    When Sam passed away and I was now an adult, I am sorry I did not stand up for you when the church never acknowledged you at the funeral because you were never legally married to him.

    Today I stand up for something I believe in.

    You were the best wife and are the best mother anyone could have, whether the system believes it or not. The unseen and unheard of black mother who took this child, me, and loved me and cared for me and still sends my old 40 year old self a plate of home cooked food everytime I visit Trinidad.

    Today I stand up for you. My heart bled for you throughout the sermon when every name was mentioned....except yours. You never left Sam's side in life and in death you were still there, unseen.

    When you broke down next to his coffin, I tried to come over but Roxy got there first.

    And then the talk. People started to talk and question why this "strange woman" was behaving like that in the church and the anger that made me march across the churchyard to scream and tell them that it was YOU. It was you who gave him twenty how many years of your life and sweat and love and dedication and four children, five with me. It was you, Joycee who had to come to ours with buckets to collect water when they cut yours. It was you who went to the market to sell herbs and spices to make ends meet after his passing. Your daughters saw my rage and held me back. A nod of the head was all that was required to tell me it was not worth it. It was your family that taught me to be respectful and to think before I react.

    It was you who made me laugh when I got chicken pox and you said I looked like a currents roll and I could camouflage in the bakery.

    It was you who showed me that I can be a mother to any child. It was you who showed me that there is no difference in the colour of skin. I was never aware there was ever an issue until I was an adult. Someone told me there was a difference. Someone on the news. Someone in the workplace. Random people who brought colour to my attention. I was never aware of it. I still feign knowledge of any such issues because I will always be your daughter.
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