Tag Archives: Community

Portrait

Everyone said that Kaku was a witch. They said it primarily because she was old, so old that she had outlived her husband by over twenty years. He died when I was a baby, before I could build any memories with him. His death by itself wouldn’t have been enough to condemn her; there are many widows. However, few widows have also outlived children, and after my grandfather died, Kaku lost three kids.

That was wrong, people said. It started as community gossip, and eventually, other members of the family started to believe it, too. Nieces and great-grandchildren began to look at her differently. Kaku must have done something, they whispered, made a twisted deal to be here for so long, they said. When she walked through the neighborhood, children pointed at her. Sometimes, they even threw stones. Eventually, she gave up leaving the family compound for anything but church. The congregation always stared.

 

“Ah! Don’t worry, hein,” Kebedi, my cousin, told her. He interacted with Kaku the most in the compound, after myself. She often sent us out on errands. We would pick up things for her at the market, or deliver messages to her few remaining friends. Lately, though, he hadn’t been running as many errands, and could rarely be found in the compound. He had taken to spending his days exploring the nearby forest, searching for stones and interesting natural artifacts. As a result, I had been bumping into Kebedi most often at the market while on my errands for Kaku, only to find him hawking items for himself. Today, though, the two of us were home, and Kaku was having a moment of melancholy over her negative reputation.

“People,” Kebedi continued, “Are stupid. Witches, elles n’existent pas.”

She wasn’t soothed.

“Kebedi,” I began. I wanted to laugh, but knew it would only upset Kaku more. “It doesn’t matter if they’re real or not. People think they are, and they think she’s one of them. Her problems won’t stop, just because of logic.”

Bof,” was his only reply.

 

What I never told either of them was that, secretly, I agreed with the others. Somewhat. I didn’t think that Kaku was bad, or to be feared. To survive for so long, to create such a large family and keep the majority of it running – I thought there was power in that! I revered Kaku, for whatever she was. It was why I spent so much time with her in the compound, when I wasn’t running her errands. I learned the daily songs she crooned to her chickens, memorized the ingredients she mixed up in her lotions and salves, and wrote down every story she told. Stories, and Kaku, were my greatest sources of knowledge as I grew up.

Collective Friend Mindsets

I think I went to go back to meeting. Capitalize that M. Meeting.

Meditation, the other m, has not been working. I get too restless for it. Start to stress that I’m wasting my time, begin to feel guilty about taking so much time on myself. I’m not sure what the difference is in my mind between lazing around binging television and sitting quietly by myself thinking about nothing, but it’s there. I used to meditate instead of going to Meeting. Now, I need Meeting to meditate in the presence of others doing the same thing.

Maybe it’s also that in Meeting, it’s okay to have thoughts. Once, before Garnet ever sang about it, a friend told me that when you meditate, your mind must be blank. It’s natural for thoughts to come into your mind, but they cannot rest. You have to let them go right after. I have trouble with that. If a thought goes, I want to replace it with something else. Kind of like people. Only, that’s futile.

I realized that this year is exactly the same as 2012. The dates fall on the same week days. March 24 will be on a Saturday; March 25, day of discovery, will be Sunday, and that Tuesday will be the 27. Six years already, and we’re back.

I didn’t answer my mom’s calls for a few hours, and she panicked. Called my friends and landlord, put out feelers to find me. I was on my friend’s couch, wrapped up in their arms, safe. When I came home, she crumbled in front of me, sobbing. She’d thought I was chasing Edward again, and William. Thought I was dead.

It was embarrassing. Hilarious. Sobering. Overwhelming.

I still can’t do things for myself, it feels, without taking from someone else. Can’t turn my phone off for my mother’s peace of mind. Can’t tell the truth without hurting someone. Can’t stay alone without shutting others out.

“I’ve been watching a lot of ‘The Good Place’,” a friend tells me, “And thinking about my actions and what people “owe” each other. And it’s hard, because there are people who solely concentrate on themselves, because they only care about themselves. That’s wrong. But then, there are people who spend too much time on others and not enough on themselves, and you also owe yourself thought.”

“Besides,” I add. “Spending too much time on others might not be helpful to them in the long run. You’d only be giving them what you thought they were owed, which might not necessarily be what they actually need.”

I want to go back to capital-m Meeting, I think. To get lost with other souls, communally individualistic. Find Friends who don’t know me.