On Being the Daughter Discovering the Home of her Descendants…
:: by Akeema-Zane ::
Photograph by Allison Anthony
You may come to know the place of your foremothers on your own terms.
You may feel strain in your development, for you will realize that your family may still want to strong-arm you and the ways in which you experience the remnants of what they left behind.
You may wonder who you’d become if they bore you on this land instead.
You may come for a two month stint and having dismantled your illusions of grandeur, you will commit to a much longer stay in order to achieve goals put forward.
You may grow frustrated with colonial traditions rendering themselves as contemporary fixtures without much resistance.
You may ponder whether an aspect of poverty can be seen as a way to escape the responsibilities of engaging in an economic system whose forerunners render the region incompetent.
You may feel unsafe to walk the streets even though you come from one of the toughest cities on the planet. You will know that this is because one of the happiest places on earth will somehow also be crime-ridden and as woman will always be in danger.
You will pontificate the irony of “happy” amidst the constant threat of danger, and you will interrogate and even envy the predicament of their co-existence.
You will be enraged with the repetitive call to act against political injustice and corruption which often are only loudly vocalized on radio morning shows.
You will be lonely and you will learn to laugh through the sorrows and smoke until it urges you to write away all of your deepest fears.
You will be lonely again, with and without a lover, with and without the distractions of those faces living amongst the computer screens, with and without someone with whom your friendship is initiated through a perchance exchange in Woodford Square about Erich Fromm’s The Sane Society.
You will write in the National Library’s copy of The Sane Society that the most revolutionary act of the twenty-first century is the destruction of property. You will erase such statement upon returning the book.
You will make friends with persons who challenge you and defy the comfort of your local family. As such will have access to the spaces in which members of your family simply did not know existed.
You will come to know that the act of cooking and eating is a communal one, that is until you are no longer the [wo]man cooking.
You will spend more money on groceries than you ever had before, not because food is particularly expensive, but because the food you can eat is only found at a specialty store.
You will come to not take water for granted again. Especially when every two weeks on a Friday night, you will come home to flush the toilet and realize that there is no running water and a sink full of dishes.
You will be without water for the entire weekend, and you will forget to plan ahead for the week after next.
You will take a trip with a former lover, and discover the peak of Argyle Falls, the underwater life of Crown Point and the burgeoning threat of development to the old fishing village of Charlotteville.
You will sit on the floor of the bathroom bearing witness to your reflection while bawling like you did four years ago when your only inclinations of hope were the candles lit by your bedside.
You will witness the planets return to their positions on the date of your birth, at twilight, while floating in the blackness of Grand Anse waters knowing you must have time traveled to the universe of your ancestors.
For the first time you will feel guilty for a love lost to the memories of your previous lover and oh how you denied your longings of him in the sweat of the present.
For the first time you will trek two hours to and from home and to and from work, and do this each day for five days a week while rivaling your fellow peers to be seated on a maxi, or risk having to wait for the next one which may arrive twenty five minutes later.
For the first time you will witness that New York does some things better-like public transportation or service- not because it is better but because capitalism works better in the places in which it was founded.
For the first time you will sit alone with your grandfather and discover him in likeness to your father. He will speak about the days he taught, the women he loved, and that the character of one’s life is determined by the legacy they leave behind for other’s to follow. He will refer to you as “Lady,” and upon your exit, hug you three times for each hour spent.
For the first time you will walk up to a stranger holding a camera and demand he take a picture of the Moko Jumbies prancing around the festival. He will call you “bold” and not “boldface.”
For the first time you will spend a full moon evening on Maracas Bay laying on the sand with friends you made here, listening to 70s psychedelic music and imagining the beaches before the advent of oil drilling. Every now and again you would look out for the cops whose presence never donned these shores unless on Ash Wednesday.
For the first time you will eat swordfish from Oistins and cry out loud in the clear blue waters of Pebbles Beach, praising the universe and all of creation for the now, the yesteryears and the tomorrows and acknowledging in that present moment that you deserve every rainbow, every sun-kissing sky, every laugh and smile. You will hug yourself tightly because you dared to feel the enormity of your existence-that you are real and not imagined; that you are highest form of beauty personified. You will love yourself so strongly, so deeply, that you will be moved to the highest gratitude of thanks. For everything known and unknown and everyone who allowed you to be!
For the first time your aunt will relay to you a message that does not leave you sour. She will tell you that your mother said you were brave.
This piece is published on Groundation Grenada as part of Code Red’s Blog Carnival, an invite for bloggers to write on the theme “To the Caribbean, With Love” this month!
Groundation Artist-in-Residence Nov 2013
Akeema-Zane is a multidisciplinary and aspiring multimedia artist born and raised in Harlem, NY with significant childhood memories in Trinidad W.I of which she is a descendant. She received a self-designed interdisciplinary BA from Eugene Lang College with an emphasis in Anglophone Caribbean studies. While attending a predominantly white, all girls boarding school in Connecticut, art became a primary avenue to express her intellectual development- one that differed tremendously from her peers. Akeema-Zane has displayed visual works in various exhibitions, recently performed in short films/music videos and plays, and read her written works in various galleries. She considers writing her primary mode of expression and has spent the last seven months in Trinidad doing personal research and writing on her family and the cultural capital of Trinidad and other Eastern Caribbean countries. She is currently inspired by and interrogative of the legacy of Jeanette MacDonald (Mother Earth), and works by Erich Fromm, Earl Lovelace, Peter Minshall, and Audre Lorde as well as many of her awe-inspiring friends.