fleeting thoughts about mama


My grandmother died in a bed, in a room, in a house, in the North Bronx, in New York, in America, far from her island of birth, Jamaica, West Indies. She wanted to be buried there, on a small hill amidst jackfruit and mango trees, next to my grandfather, Papa, the man who loved her so much he said he could never leave her, no matter what. She remembered those words Papa spoke to her, possibly under a coconut or sour sop tree, and she one day decided to pour them into me, mixed vigorously with my memories. I received them as though they were my own, even though she’d merely shared them with me. When she orphaned them by dying I knew I needed to carry them forward so that pieces of my life could live on as well. She’d raised me with my grandfather until I was four years old, almost five. Remembering for her was not only a desire to keep her alive, but also an act of self preservation. Who I was then, as a little girl, conjoined with what she’d recalled of her life and living. To truly live I needed to remember and then speak or write the past—it was in a sense a path to immortality.

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