Last excerpts from MEMOIRS OF A FORGOTTEN CHILD ebook. The August 1st release is coming up quickly! Please support by sharing and purchasing. The link to the pre-order is on Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01IFSFDY6?pc_redir=T1
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At six-years-old Jean Bernard stepped into my life. He resembled Master P a little in the face. He had to be around 5’8 – 5’9 average build with the small gut, low cut hair, Coco Brown complexion with a smile so safe and inviting that it could melt all your troubles away. His smile was dressed with a few gold fillings indicating cavities. Jean Bernard, little did he know was my rock. He made me feel secure and made me feel like my opinions mattered, like I counted. From time to time when Mommy needed someone to watch me, she would call him. Jean was loyal, dependable, and trustworthy. His words held efficacy, every time he said he was coming or was going to do something he meant it. His word was bond, and his actions secured his intentions. Jean, also like Lyonel drove a taxi for Brookline Red Cab company. Unlike Lyonel, Jean liked me, as if I was his own. I adored the time we spent together. It wasn’t as if he planned days of fun along with toys and extravagant surprises. It was average but what wasn’t average transpired with how he treated me. He asked what I wanted to do, how I was feeling and shared what was on his schedule for the day so I would be in the know. He listened to me as well as took into account about what I wanted to do. He didn’t let me run amuck or walk all over him; he just interacted with me as a person. A valuable person.
A typical day with Jean Bernard accorded with his taxi route. He let me sit in the passenger side seat, for a seven year old that was a major deal. In the mornings, we went to go get breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts. A small coffee for each of us. I started drinking my coffee like him, imitating his ritualistic him and a donut for me. I drank coffee because I thought it made me look mature like adults, besides if adults drink it I wanted to too. The taste was better with eight packets of sugar changing the bitter taste into a dark brown liquid like syrup. After, he’d run some errands in Boston. Sometimes we took the train from Forest Hills and had breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts in the train station that was always overcrowded in the mornings with people rushing in every direction going to their next destination. I observed the constructive chaos, wondering how great being an adult must be, impatiently waiting for my seven years to grow to eleven more. When Jean completed his to-do list, picking up envelopes, dropping off packages, and even picking up a couple of things for Mommy we had lunch. He let me choose lunch which was good because I was a picky eater. I ate junk food/fast food that I deemed good but when it came to home-cooked meals no food came closer in comparison to Mommy’s food nor did I give it a chance to be fairly tested. Mommy enforced and reinforced not taking food from strangers, and I obliged unless she gave me permission but fast foods were different, permission always granted.
If we were near the big fast food giants, I would without a doubt pick one of them. The most selected was Burger King for their fries. If not Burger King and we were in Roslindale, specifically Hyde Park Ave no question about it, we were going to Nicolas. Nicolas was a neighborhood Sub & Pizza Shop. Nothing fancy, you go in to order your meal, make some friendly conversation with the counter staff, pay, and leave with your food or sit and eat. Jean must have some culinary skills because he chose the best combination to add to the subs. My mouth watered at the sight of the delectable creation being handcrafted right in front of me. He ordered one for me and one from him, a footer. As soon as he stepped back into the cab I ravished the wax paper off, crazed by the intoxicating smell of this heavenly concoction. I gorged down the sub within a few bites and gulped down the macerate of the once gorgeous put together sandwich. The only deal was for me not to eat the whole sub to save half for Marie. I agreed knowing full well that by the time evening came I would have eaten the rest, and that’s exactly what happened. Jean didn’t mind. He found my porkish eating habits fetching. When he drove me back to the apartment, Mommy was home exhausted and usually irritated. Surviving another day at a job that she hated but stayed because it required minimal skills. I knew Jean liked Mammy a lot and liked me too in a platonic pseudo-father daughter manner, something like what is commonly called stepfather/stepdaughter.
Marie knew that he had affection for her, but she thought he was not up to par with her standards. Simply put, out of her league. I think he knew this which motivated him to prove to her that he was a loyal and dependable guy. See, the difference between Jean and let’s say other men was he liked me regardless if Marie didn’t like him. Jean wasn’t like those manipulating men putting up a front. He didn’t speak vacant words or misled me to think he cared about me in hopes of getting with Marie. Children have a good sense about these things that are oblivious to adults; maybe the desperation of wanting a companion or adult responsibilities occupies their sensibility, whatever it was they miss that skill. I like that, I respected that, which drew me closer to him feeling safe with him. Marie knew this, as selfish as she was she pimped her friendship with him for her benefit. Haitian men love a home cooked meal, nothing beats mayi moulen ak pwa avèk sòs pwason. Jean was no different. He being a single hard working man he hardly had time to make himself meals to eat. Whenever he could get Haitian food that reminded him of back home, he wasn’t going to turn it down.
I remember a time with Jean Bernard in his car driving down American Legion Highway, passing through a cemetery, he said let’s pretend there’s zombies on the road and we have to get away from them. It had to be late afternoon around 2:00 P.M. traffic was scarce, odd for that time of day. I became readily excited because all day we had been driving to one place to another running errands. He knew me well, seeing that I was bored he came up with something to turn on my enthusiasm. The weather even cooperated with us by creating a grayish gloomy sky. It looked somewhat cloudy but mostly gray as to show that it was creating the spooky ambiance for our zombie hunt. Obviously there weren’t any zombies but the enthusiasm and the violence we put into the game felt realistic like the few cars we saw on the road literally morphed into zombies. Cartoons zombies, at least in my mind they were. For every “zombie” we pointed out, we sped up slightly to pass it by so it would not get us. We shrieked and laughed at every approaching zombie yelling things like “Ah zombie!” “We got to get the zombies!” etc. I had so much fun playing Zombie in addition to Jean’s funny expressions made it just that much better. His swerving motions as he drove along with his active imagination invoke my dormant imagination to shape the kiddish game. We continued to play the game even when we passed the cemetery. We got so caught up that we didn’t notice. Things like this made Jean Bernard the great man I saw him as. He was considerate, loyal, friendly, helpful, and attentive. I appreciated that because I knew they were rare traits, especially in my parents.
Jean Bernard had a daughter that I never knew of; actually she was his niece that he raised as his daughter. I met her once when Jean had some private dealings to take care of and left me to spend the day with her. I was nervous because I didn’t know her. She stood taller than me and had a serious tomboy flair about her, more than I did at the time as well as she sported a short tapered hairdo like a guy. Even though she had a boyish look about her, her natural feminine beauty shined through which enabled people to recognize her as a female. Her hairdo, boy clothes, small frame, abate her manly walk. She was nice, introverted, and amicable. She didn’t view me as a nuisance or thought that I had ruined her plans. I walked into the basement apartment ready for the unknown if it were to occur. Nothing jumped out; she didn’t pull any tricks, she didn’t begin to abuse me. She just asked me if I wanted eggs for breakfast. I answered “Yes” nervously. She told me to take a seat at the kitchen table. I observed her intensively while she made the eggs, she also asked if I wanted hot dogs in them. I again sheepishly answered “Yes.” She served me eggs, dutifully waiting for my reaction. I picked at the eggs eating them cautiously, and then I realized they were fantastic when I dug into them. I anticipated mediocrity at best, but she far exceeded my expectations. We then made our way into her bedroom after we scarfed down the eggs. I could collapse in fear because the last time I had been in the “bedroom” of the female I got raped. But this time it was different. Her room was just that, scattered with furniture but her actions were platonic. She tried making me feel at ease on my terms. She didn’t force me into anything, in fact, she let me be alone and if I needed anything she was there.
We watched the last minutes of a recorded episode of 106 & Park on BET hosted by AJ and Free. It was the first time I viewed Black music videos. Some of the artist’s videos I remembered watching were “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” by Missy Elliot, “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees, and “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill. I was in a trance viewing all these Black artists in their creative videos. Jean’s daughter/niece let me be while she tidied up around her apartment. She was eighteen or at the very most in her early twenties. I admired her self-sufficiency. Being so young and on her own yet Jean being the man he was checked up on her frequently. He helped her financially as he could. She too had errands to do that day and took me with her to complete them. We were walking down some street in Dorchester when she turned to me and put a quarter in her hand; she asked me to guess what hand it was in. I obviously chose the hand I last saw the quarter in. She opened the hand that I picked, and I observed her palm intensively. I was clearly confused saying something like where’s the quarter? She opened the other hand, and there was a quarter. I awed at what I thought was her basic magic trick. I begged for her to tell me her secret. She chuckled at my curiosity then finally showed me the trick. Flabbergasted and feeling gypped, that trick was easy, no magic behind it whatsoever.
We made a pit stop at a small corner store bodega to buy two juices and chips on her dime. I declared her a good person in my own juvenile standards. Compared to the other people who were supposed to be good but were doing me wrong, like when I was four years old, and Mommy coincidently all the time burned me with soap residue between my legs. To start off, Mommy bathed me roughly as if bathing me was a taxing chore that severely crippled her someway. It wasn’t just a splash of water; it was suds from the original golden orange Neutrogena facial cleansing bar. When she vigorously washed between my thighs entering into my virgin vagina. The hypersensitivity of the region became inflamed, burning inside me until I cried, panting for mercy. This made me feel like a gadfly as if I chose my existence; therefore, I deserved her cruelty. The world being rough on her, she then became rough towards me, transferring her anger that she could express out on me but not the world. Jean’s daughter/niece didn’t do anything like that, so to me she had to be good. Mommy, who I loved and I believed loved me did that, she did me wrong, multiple times. Did that make her bad?
I took it all as investments that I was bound to make a major return on. Eventually, Mommy will realize my loyalty and dedication to her then she’ll be able to love me fully like I did her beyond her flaws. But her recklessly rubbing the brick size soap up and down my chubby thighs hurt! I didn’t complain, though, my facial expressions gave away my true feelings. Marie asked if I were okay in a careless tone. I responded fraudulently “Yes.” She continued lathering each part of my body then pour cups full of water to cleanse my body. Every time this part of the rinse occurred I instinctively cringe for the fact like clockwork my inner thighs burned. I shouted unbearable wails to Mommy indicating the sharp sensation protruded the entrance of my vagina. She like always acted as if she hadn’t known that this point was coming up although it kept repeating itself every single day. She in her D rate acting skills pretended to be concerned, not only that, it was always an “accident.” I couldn’t entertain the badly rehearsed lines for the apparent pain I was dealing with. Jumping up-and-down helped none. I divided my hands into the runny shower faucet caring small handfuls of water dripping out of my hands into my vagina. Mommy barked at me to sit on the bucket of water as she washed the sting away. I believed Mommy did this on purpose to say I am the source of pleasure and pain. If you’re obedient, you’ll know little to nothing of the latter. Along with that, clandestinely I believe she found joy in it. Me being paralyzed in ache. Not knowing what to do. Trusting the only person who caused it, and the only one who could save me from it, who also had the power to cause it all over again, and I at the mercy of her kindness gave her a GOD complex. She was supposed to protect me, but she ended endangering me.
In her daily life outside of the studio apartment she knew she was economically weak in addition to being a social pariah. She was at the mercy of her employers, “friends,” and whomever else. Her feelings of being inferiority invaded her self-conscious yet she was too lazy or lacked the confidence to change her circumstance thus she taking out her frustrations on me. To her reinforcing the “good” she had done for me as if it was a favor like how Lyonel acted when he showed up to spend “quality time” aka taking me along his taxi route. Her actions were supposed to make me feel indebted to her for all the “sacrifices” she didn’t need to make but she did out of circumstances love. And if I entertained the thought of telling anyone, specifically the police, I could find myself in foster care where the REAL abuse would start then no one, absolutely, no one would come to my rescue because the one who could of protected me was the one I betrayed and thus I deserved the punishment. I was born out of unprotected sex, a bastard baby, and I knew this. My existence was an inconvenience to two selfish, egotistical, broken people who use my innocence in life, my dependence as a tool for domination over me. At the time I knew some parts of this reality was wrong but I shaped it in my child mind as okay which made me feel guilty as if life would be better for all of us involved Marie, Lyonel, and I if I hadn’t been born. This belief enabling me to surrender myself to reproach and self-hate. The only thing I thought I could provide was obedience, and that’s what I did perfectly. I became the offering to the emotional baggage without a separate identity or thought process. I was content doing minor things for her like interpreting English to Haitian Creole and Haitian Creole to English, overall being her help guide.
I covered for her when asked why she never came to parent/teacher meetings. When asked, I would always come up with excuses to hide the fact that Marie just didn’t care about my education or anything about me that wasn’t relevant to her life. I didn’t oppose giving up my individual thoughts and opinions to be a robotic cult follower to her bazaar reasonings that gave off the appearance that we were synchronized. I didn’t protest handing over my childhood, not being able to play with the boys a couple of doors down who were my age outside due to the fact that she always opted for lay down in bed. It wasn’t possible for her to watch me outside from inside her bedroom. Her rationale was that someone would possibly come out of nowhere and snatch me in the middle of oval shaped apartment complex sidewalk. She never wanted me to play with anyone nor did she want to play with me either. She highly irritable when I pleaded for her to do so. I chalked it up to her being tired of me. Feeling bored and lonely I cried to console myself, conversing with myself inside my head. I privately wished one day she would get pregnant again and have another baby so I would wouldn’t be so lonely, and I would have someone to play with. Someone to share in my misery (?)
Be Entertained. Be Enlightened. Be Loved. ✌