I looked down at the cold chipped floor and knew it was over. All around and about the apartment were these small statues and sculptures of naked white women. Some posed on chaise lounges. Others held flowers. I loved them all. Many a Saturday afternoon of my youth was spent staring at those sculpted bosoms. It was my first introduction to womanhood. On this particular day I got a little too close. How it fell, still escapes my mind. Broken pieces of a porcelain woman’s face stared back into my fearful eyes. I tried to shush her but to avail. Sounds of the crash certainly did not go unnoticed. Punishment was lurking around the corner, in the name of my grandma. The strong voice inquired.
“Sak kase la? ” (What broke here?)
As I prepared to tell my grandma that nothing had broke, she walked into my parent’s room. The lie simply refused to find it’s way into my brain. I waited too long and my chances of survival were shot. I was one of those rare Haitian kids who knew how to avoid the belt or the extension chord to the bottom. A beating was not on the horizon, but something else was coming. A whopping takes a few minutes. You cry, are in some pain, and go to your room upset. Then just like that it’s over. What was about to happen was mentally and physically tortuous. Using nothing but her eyes, grandma walked me to the kitchen. She reached her hand into an immense bag of Uncle Ben’s white rice. A few dry pieces trickled their way to the floor.
“Fè ajenou. ” (Get on your knees)
“On the rice?” I asked. Her English was slim to none but she understood my words
quite clearly. There was a strict point to the floor. I knew roaches chilled on this very spot at night when the lights were out. I was grossed out before lowering down. My knees touched the cold floor. Wearing shorts had failed me today. I dropped with tears silently flowing down my eyes. Grandma was not the least bit phased. Individual rice grains embedded themselves into my kneecaps. I was made to extend my hands to the side as she started with a Hail Mary, for my sins, of course.
A few prayers and 1 hour later I rose up. Some grains were tougher to pick out of my skin than others. My knees would never recover. There’s probably dry rice in them till this day.