Friday, 5 February 2010

STREETWISE AND OTHERWISE

Excerps from my memoir.

“Go home, stranger; your roots are buried somewhere else.”

Those were the words that were spoken to me on a park bench on a humid October afternoon, three years ago. I had just returned from Chiavari where I had met with my lawyer to go over certain personal matters. It was not a happy day, and the weather didn’t help my mood much. I had left my car in the parking lot of the school where my daughter attended. I had gone in to pay her fees and when I got back to the car, someone had parked right behind mine, blocking my exit. I was already late for my appointment and the trains were not reliable, so I decided to leave immediately. When I got back later on, the gates were shut (rightly so too), so I waited in the park for the gates to open, so that I can get my car and go grocery shopping before coming back to get my kid and head on home. I was there for barely ten minutes when this old man came and sat at the other end of the bench where I was.
“Ciao” he said to me cautiously. I’d seen that caution before. It’s a mixture of mistrust and curiosity. He didn’t trust me for my coloured skin but he was curious as to whether I could be solicited. It took him but just a moment to indeed solicit my ‘services’. I looked at him. I was almost void of emotion. My trip to the lawyer had sapped me of any I had left. He mistook my silence for calculation.
“Look, I can pay you right away if that’s what you are worried about,” he said, leaning towards me. I looked at myself and wondered if by some weird chance I was dressed as a whore and was too preoccupied to notice it. I wore a pair acid washed jeans, a pair of deep blue Lacoste sneakers and a sky blue and white raglan sleeved t shirt. My hair was in braids and in a pony tail. I had no make up on, not even a shadow of a chap stick and I had been chewing on my lower lip all afternoon as I normally did when I get nervous.
I ignored him, I dipped into my pocket searching for my last bit of caramel as I felt my nerves on edge. He pulled out his wallet and ruffled through his bank notes. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince himself that he indeed had the money or he probably thought it would be an effective temptation on me. I suddenly felt a rage overtake me and I bit into my caramel to stop myself from lashing out.
“Che denti!” He said and started what sounded like a cross between a cough and a cackle. He was laughing.
“So, what do you say?” he asked me after he was through with the annoying laugh.
“How about I pay you to lick my ass?” I said as lewdly as I could manage. I brought out my wallet and ruffled my bank notes in his face before ignoring him one last time. That was when he said to me
“Go home, stranger; your roots are buried somewhere else.”
“Get used to me here, old man ,because I am as Italian as you are and intend to be twice the shit head you are.” With that, I got up and headed to my car, hoping I’d find the gates opened at the school.

To be continued….

©Naan Pocen