Like the wandering leaves of the oak tree during a breezy fall day, so has my kin scattered all over with world with ample distance. They are the pushpins on a map; everywhere. From my place of birth, Trinidad, where the salt water still runs through my blood, in the suburbs of London where a queen still reigns, by the waterfalls of Canada in icy terrain, then in America dispersed so freely in the sunshine, the desert and the city that never sleeps.
These are the abodes of my family who have migrated so far, yet feuds still bellow strong. Feuds that leave cracks bigger than Hell’s Canyon. Envy and rage have been transported like the bubonic plague and an antidote has yet to be discovered.
Years ago, I didn’t remember my family like this. I was an overzealous child, eager to spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Gift giving did not turn us into cattle on Black Friday, as time was the essence of our spirit. Time together used to be the engine of our locomotive. We ate good Indian food, listened to parang, played all fours, five-hundred and rummy. Sometimes even pick up a bat and ball to play cricket. Fruit cake and rum stirred up the night and we fete like so. Soon, that engine ran dry and further on a spider’s web we became untangled.
My family was not the first to leave the island, but my mom was happy to leave all the ‘˜comess’ (drama) behind. Uncle Boods lived close by so I was able to hang with my cousins. My mom’s only sister hung out in Florida until the frigid Toronto beckoned for her. Tantie Juds married a white man like I did, and she is still moving around the country like billiard balls on a pool table. Grandma and Grandpa passed and I never got a chance to say goodbye. Defying forces kept us apart, energy an immature teenager couldn’t understand.
Then facebook came into my life. A social network for the world, both a blessing and a curse. I was able to talk to family and friends, some that I didn’t know existed or had forgotten. Some I kept my distance from, others I wanted to keep getting updates on their lives to make sure they were doing well. I have my on life. Married for the second time and getting the education I left behind. Life was a struggle with opposing forces that tried to break me down, and I became bitter because I also had a job that didn’t take me to the places I wanted to go. I became a dark person inside, matching the complexion of my skin. I wrote as therapy and my words revealed a rage that engulfed me.
Everything changed when my father died. He didn’t love me the way I wanted him to, but his demise was my re-awakening. Like Keats’ immortal nightingale, I would sing a sweet song to crack the amber around my heart. Death has never been so close to my breath and I inhaled a new soul fresher than a cold mountain air. I saw life differently. Life had been given to my father and he did not use it wisely. So I will take his time stolen and rejuvenate every life I touch.
I pray for my most tender grandmother on my mother’s side, as well as the enemies who remain hapless on my fathers. I treat those who smile at me with respect and those that curse with the love they lack. I am grateful for the soil I live on for setting me free, and see everyone of its people on the same level as me. I do my best to eat all on my plate, for there is always a starving child who finds my leftovers a gourmet meal. I dream of touching the palm trees on Maracas beach once again, picking up conch shells with my toes as they dig into the white sand and eating shark and bake while watching the sun set slowly.
On the island, the pilgrims never made an offer and turkeys hardly dressed the table. Thanksgiving was never our holiday but I understand why it is symbolic. We give thanks to the Lord who blesses us. We open our homes to the ones we love. We share a meal with those who don’t know when their next one will be. What people seem to forget is that we should be thankful everyday. Thank the Almighty for the gifts he gave us as they could all be buried like an ancient treasure lost with time. Enjoy time with family. Enjoy time with friends. Enjoy time with yourself. It is time that we should be thankful for.