It must have been three weeks ago, I was walking by the seafood-isle at Safeway; which is a store I rarely go to, despite its situation across the street from my building. The creaking floor-boards, the unfriendly sales people and the fact that most of the customer were either Somalis or Ethiopians from my first visit of this store almost three years ago has left a bad taste in my mouth. In the process of passing by the said isle, smiling indulgently to the man behind the counter [the way I do with Child-reach and Plan International canvassers on 4th and Pike], who was asking how he can help me; I felt a sneering coming from the woman who was passing by. I am black, alright? I am pre-wired to sense sneers even where there are not. So I turned to look at her, expecting a white woman wearing a face that says black women’s rightful place is by the poultry isle or at MacDonald’s – pushing a baby in a stroller while laboring under the weight of one.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, upon finding a rather homely looking Hispanic woman. Not your average voodoo-doll sized Hispanic woman, mind you, but just as strange. Jet black hair. Faint mustache. And thick eyebrows that almost made a line, Count Olaf style. The type you won’t ask for directions because her response would be a dumb look and mute smiles.
The big question mark on my face must have made her pause. For she parked her cart next to me and started talking. I was about to wave her away, explaining how I don’t speak Spanish [“Sorry, Doña. Ich kann nicht sprechen sie Spanish”]; when I caught phrases I recognized [“you… doesn’t look good honey.. come see me”]. She took a card out of her purse and handed to me. I took it, still straining to understand what she was saying. When I saw the word “Tarot” in boldface letter on the card, I needed no more explanation. “No thank you,” I said cheerfully, handed the card back and walked away.
I may have walked away. But haven’t gone far before I regretted not making sure what it was about my person that didn’t look good to her. For I am like Dean Keaton. I don’t believe in the devil but I’m scared of him. After all, I grew up in a protestant church. And the devil is pretty much the thermometer with which you measured your spirituality back there. Is your path beset on all sides [“by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men”]? Then, Praise the Lord!, your spiritual life is on the right track! If you, on the other hand, are too content, happy at having things going your way.. then you might wanna take a close look at your inward life and see where you went wrong. Comfort is a sign that you have either gotten too chummy with the Prince of Darkness, or your soul has been ensnared by the comforts of this world. For hasn’t the Lord said “as long as you are in this world, you shall have tribulations”?!. You’ve gotta ask yourself a question: “Am I in this world?” Well, are ya, punk?
So I wondered by the break-fast isle. And I wondered by the check-out line. Then I wondered sitted by my bed, watching a movie while attacking a bag of pop-corn. Could she have seen something in my future, I wondered? In my body? In my surrounding? Do I have some hidden disease I need to have checked-out? Were I being stalked by some one or some thing? Am I gonne lose my job? When texting my worries to Troy, he comforted me by suggesting “Probably your finances; which she would cure by taking your money and telling you what you want to hear”. Babi’s Whatsapp response was “I didn’t take you for someone who believes in Voodoo”; resulting in the whole subject of God – and the post For Babi.
Alas.. how else can they explain the violent dreams I kept having every night ever since?
I don’t know if I have mentioned this about me and dreams. But I don’t dream! If I do, twice a year or so, it would either be my father/brother chasing me with a dagger; or some bizarre jumble a keen to an action movie; fast cars.. acrobats.. men I have no hope of landing.
These dreams, however, are clear as day. They speak of blood. And they speak of gore. They speak of desertion. Of betrayal. Of loss. They have snakes in them. They have ghosts in them. They have all kinds of assault weapons in them. They got rape scenes. Murder scenes. And everything hellish in between. Even when I’m not dreaming, I seem to wonder in my sleep why I am not sleeping so well nowadays; worrying about worrying, so to say, knowing sleep is only a veil I can lift at will to step back into my bedroom — unto my anxieties. So by the time I wake up, I feel like I’ve been “BiQil Mefcheting” throughout the night. I’m exhausted and out of sorts. A mute kicking and screaming, in the manner of Pinocchio refusing to take medicine, accompanies me throughout my preparation to go to work; through the bathing, and the doing of the hair and the making of breakfast. “Get up!”. “I don’t want to!”. “Take a shower!”. “But I don’t want to!”. “You gotta go to work!”. “Do I have to?!”. But more importantly, I worry about what the dreams meant. [If I should call home and get it out of Blen]. If I am ever gonne have the kind of sleep I used to have back when my inner-clock nudged me up after 8 hrs of sleep, on the dot. Should I start drinking myself to sleep? Should I ask for prescription pills? Is it going to age me horribly?
Or is this all part of my punishment for walking away? Is that what she wanted? Am I letting her win?
“You worry too much”, I am sure you’d groan, “Your sub-conscious, fertile ground as it has always been for fear and doubt, is playing tricks on you”. “It’s all the pressure of life in America. The purgatory feeling it gives you, the sensation of hanging in space. The reason why you can barely concentrate on chapters of books nowadays. Why your bones want to jump out of your skin every time they failed to answer when you call back home. Your deep-seated fear of having let your family/your country/that ideal – promising – young you down – by not going to school; or not working 16/hrs a day; or not marching out and setting yourself apart.”
But we can never know for sure now, can we?!