". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, August 6, 2010

M & K Home, Finally

They were ensconced in the - St. loft by 10 PM. K bouncy and confident, whizzing around, shouting Aibobo! at all moments, to all and sundry, not in the least intimidated by people speaking English. She hardly saw a white person or anyone not speaking Kreyole all her life until she got to the airport.

M, how can I describe? Her confident, pleased, curious, healthy daughter says it best. K is very much her warrior mother's soul and character. In the meantime though, M. may have one hell of a crash, now that she's where they are safe. The first thing M. says is, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," to everyone. But we all know, that in the end it was her, and Mz, who actually DID it. She is ill with a mild form of malaria. She is tired. She'd gotten little sleep for weeks in the heat, humidity, mosquitoes and other dangers, and then none at all the last two days, with getting to the U.S. Embassy so early two days in a row because the U.S. Embassy and the INS f*ed up.

We are discussing family therapy, which is available to members of the Haitian community here affected by the earthquake. Who knows entirely what K saw and experienced before M was able to get there and take custody?

They are home, they really are home! It was the shock of the familiar so long absent, to hear her voice again on the cell. It was the unique, unmistakable voice of our friend. I did not burst into tears upon hearing M's voice.

I seldom cry these days, for if I did weep over whatever is worthy to weep over, I'd never not be crying.


K. said...

Woo-hoo! When the dust settles, I hope she writes about this.

T. Clear said...

So glad to see this here!

Foxessa said...

I've taken to calling K 'Whizbanger.' We all wish we hd the energy of a six year old.

I'm taking M and K to the library on Mulberry Street at the end of this week, so they can get library cards. This is a new branch. It's small, but it's very very nice for kids, particularly little kids. There are three separate sections: for really little kids - picture books, tweeners, and YAs. With all their own computers that adults don't have access to.

This is also a good place to get advice about schools. There are a lot of programs! Though this is so far out of my library area of expertise -- I never have taken a single course in what here, at least is called school media, I do know how it works, etc.

More later. It's just wonderful having M back! She's so tired. But she's safe now. But she says the most terrible things, out of seemingly nowhere, about how very particular houses she knows, all in rubble, and the bodies she and everyone knows are still buried. Which for a Haitian is a terrible thing. She speaks of Haiti being nothing but rubble, still.

This has been a terrible time for her. I want to take care of her. Everyone is anxious and eager to take care of K and bring cadeaux and so on. But it was on M that the true terror and endurance fell. She took the burden without question, willingly. But she needs some support and energy giving -- and some presents, I think. Her birthday came and went while she was away. I remember her shy surprise her first birthday here when we showed up and I gave her some little gifts.

Love, C.

K. said...

"I've taken to calling K 'Whizbanger.'"

I thought you were writing about me for a second! Remember this?

I can imagine that M needs some TLC and that Manhattan might seem a bit surreal. She must feel like a soldier just returned from a war.

Foxessa said...
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Foxessa said...
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Foxessa said...

A war that she's very aware continues.

There's a story in today's NY Times about the relationships between relatives of Haitiasn earthquake victims who are living here and those who are in Haiti.

M stops every so often and will say out of nowhere: "Haiti isn't getting better. It is still all rubble. Everybody is living in th streets." Observations like that.

I can only imagine what she saw, heard and experienced. So much danger for her and herself.

Our friend A, who with her own mom, see themselves as surrogate mothers and grandmother or believe that M sees them this way (I'm not sure because A had demonstrated a deeply imaginative reading of other relationships in the past, so to speak) -- are somewhat appalled at some of M's parenting behaviors. They have taken upon themselves the task of taking M to task -- A has no children, btw. And NEITHER DO I, so we're even here, right, in terms of experience in parenting? :)

While I do agree that it might be positive to point out that if you don't a little child to wet the bed don't let her drink a pint or more of juice drinking within the hour before going to bed. M. after all, hadn't lived with her daughter since the child was 2 until she went down to protect and defend her until she could manage to get her here. And make no mistake -- it is incredibly dangerous for everyone in Haiti now, and particularly awful, of course, for little kids without strong protectors.

Myself, I think they shouldn't be criticizing M's parenting generally, at least not NOW. First of all there's a cultural difference, that's very deep between being a Haitian and being an African American, when it comes to these things, and no more more so than in gender areas. It's not good, but there it is. The Haitian writer, Edwidge Danticatt, has described what it can be like in detail, if you want to know more. I'm not going say much more because this is the intertubes after all.

But more and more, though it's been only a few days, it feels to me that M is the one with the greatest trauma. She needs support and care. What she really doesn't need is concerned bullying and bossing. She's surrounded by alpha females, who WILL bully and boss with the greatest goodwill and tenderness in the world, but nevertheless.

However, M is also an alpha. And she's demonstrated far more concrete accomplishment as a warrior than any woman I know. Moreover, whatever others might think of her parenting techniques or lack of skills, never ever forget that she immediately made the decision when Mz couldn't get K out of Haiti, to go there herself, and protect her daughter on the streets, if need be. Which, indeed, there were times when they did have to be on the streets. You cannot but look at K with M and not see that K looks unconditionally upon M as the one who will protect and defend her no matter what. That M might tell her daughter who is hearing from everyone everyday all the time how pretty, how cute, what a princess you are, getting present after present, attention all the time from everyone, "That you are ugly ..." there is a cultural reason for this. Of course there is a better way, but M will need to find that way herself. The lwa will show her. But M knows how horrible, how hard life really is, and she doesn't want her wonderful daughter to not be able to see that, in ways that she can cope with NOW.

Or -- maybe this is just my own harsh upbringing talking.

Love, C.