…continued from chronicle thirteen.
The girl runs into the room and halts in front of her presumed mother like a trained dog.
“Kadeisha, when you messin round doin no good, what happens to you?”
“Mommy beat the shit outta me.”
“Good girl, Kadeisha, go back to your room now.”
Kadeisha runs back with no answer to my smile.
“I beat my children cause I got the right to”, I wish she’d stop and leave whatever credit I had for her untouched. But Mindy aggravates her plea, “ain’ nobody comin here tellin me I shouldn’t beat my children!”
“One time the neighbors called the police because they heard me beatin one of my daughters. What’s wrong with this people? Then there was these two officers at the door. You know what they say? Miss, we got a report of abuse in this building. Can you believe that?”
“Abuse? Abuse? What abuse? Know what I did? I asked the kind officers to come inside, sit down at my table, drink coffee and take one good look at my daughter. When I told them what I’d caught her doin, the officers wanted beat her as well! Can you believe that?”
No I can’t and I won’t.
“So I told the police that in this house only one person beats the children. Me. So if I could kindly ask you to step outta my building so can attend to my business? Them damn children. Ain no good in them.”
“I take it you own this apartment?” Brilliant escape.
“I do. By workin hard. This is a good place for the money. But it’s not a good life and you can’t trust people. Most are bad, crime is bad, you betta stay inside at night. I’m just hea for the money. Then I go back home.”
“Guyana. That’s my real home. Can’t wait to be back. We have a beautiful big house in the mountains. Things are cheap over there – not like here. No snow like here. You see my skin? Not all black you see. I’m one fourth Chinese and there’s lots of European in me. That’s why this family is different from all the others around here in Bed-Stuy. Them cheaters and thieves. But not in this house. This is a fine family. You’re in a good house now.”
I sip my orange juice some more. It’s corrosive acid.
I crossed rugged deserts in buses without shock-absorbers. This is harder to sit out. When Mindy’s oldest daughter arrives – twenty seven, bright chocolate skin, dark long eyebrows but as timid as her little sister – we all get dressed and take a taxi to beautiful Park Slope. In the Thai restaurant – Mindy’s thought of something cultural – all conversations dry out. The two sisters hardly dare look up from their plates and Mindy seems to startle whenever I address her. I’ve never fealt more out of place. But bad experiences are experiences as well. On the ride back, I try to enjoy the majestic view of a snowed under Grand Army Plaza. It looks like Europe.
There’s room for me in the sofa next to Kadeisha. She’s playing a game on a console. Mindy and her oldest daughter sit in the sofa in front of the roaring television whilst looking at their phones. “Do you remember the girl we had over last year? Stéphanie?”, Mindy shouts.
“Oh yeah”, the daughter answers, “she was so interesting.”
“Yeah, she told us all these interesting things about her country”, Mindy picks it up again, “we had such a good time. I will never forget it. Stephanie still sends us letters, she even invited all of us to go visit her in France to see her family. Isn’t that nice? It’s like a bond that will never break.”
I haven’t said a word since we’re back. “That’s wonderful”, I comment.
Legs wide open on the horse in a mini skirt. Flashing half a boob in a pink dress tailored to the purpose. Barbie is a slut. Blonde with excessive make-up, the porn character enjoys the prime location on little Kadeisha’s night table. I wasn’t given any blankets. Just sheets. It’s too cold here to fall asleep.
We’ll both be happy when this is over.
“Would you like some bacon?”, Mindy asks because she has to.
“Oh yes. Please. That would be nice.”
She sighs and retreats.
Kadeisha silently chews her bread crums. With Mindy in the kitchen, I go for the gold.
“Kadeisha, you like going to school?”
“I guess it’s alright”, she answers with an attitude.
“Do you have a lot of friends?”
“I has friends all around. But not too many black friends. I don’t need too many black friends. Cause them black kids get into a lotta trouble. Some kids them think I’m black as well. Lots of them kids is really racist. Them callin me black. But them not hurtin me, cause yunno, I’m not real black. I got some Chinese in me. Them don’t know cause them can’t see that. It runs in my blood”, she demonstrates by touching the veins on the inside of her arm.
“Do you see your father sometimes?” I am crossing a line here.
“Sometimes. It depends.”
“What does it depend on?”
“His new wife don’t want me around. She hates me. He only live two blocks from here with my baby brother and sister.”
“Do you play a lot with them?”
“Time to time. Them alright. Them not the only ones. I got another brother around the corner. When my dad doin time, we go see him together.”
“Your dad does a lotta time?”
“Not too bad.”
Mindy storms into the room wearing a shirt sporting the Guyanan flag. Today’s international day at Kadeisha’s school and Mindy’s organizing. It starts at nine thirty. We arrive by seven. At lunch, black moms from Santa Lucia dance to cowboy ballads with the warmest smiles I’ve ever seen. Soon after, I am set free.