Victoria Azarenka won the Australian Open.She beat Maria Sharapova in straight sets 6-3, 6-0. She was on fire. I was hoping she would win because she was my favorite after Serena was ousted. She always seemed so surprised that she lost whenever she loses, but what was funny tonight was that after she won she turned to her coach, shrugged her shoulders and mouthed, “What happened?”
Now we wait for the men’s final tomorrow to see who is the champion. It should be a pretty good one with two players like Nadal and Djokovic playing. I’m not sure who I want to win since I like both of them. Although Nole has had an amazing 2011, so it’s about time someone else had a win. I mean, I won’t feel too sorry for Nole if he loses. And as for Rafa; even though he’s had a lot of wins he’s had poor luck against Nole lately, so he could use a win. And it would make the match-up more even thereby making it more interesting. But we’ll see tomorrow .
I was fourteen years old when my father died. The last words I spoke to him were, “I’d rather die than have you as a father.” I stormed out and went to a party. When I got home I called out to let him know I was home as usual. Then I heard a loud report like a gunshot but I was sure it couldn’t be a gunshot because we didn’t have a gun in the house, so I went into his room to see what it was. It was a gunshot. The bastard had waited for me to come home so I could not only find him but hear the moment when he did it. And he didn’t bother with the usual gun in the mouth thing that would have left a hole in the back of his head; he’d put it at his temple so that half his face was blown away and his left eye was hanging on by a single membrane and his brains were hanging out the side of his head. All I could do was stand there and stare; and I don’t know why but I couldn’t look away. By the time I was able to call the police some of the blood had dried and they didn’t believe me that he shot himself after I called out to him. The M.E. took him out on a gurney and the social worker that the police called in asked me a lot of questions that I barely remember answering because I was still hearing that gunshot and seeing my father lying in his own blood. It took me three months to close my eyes without seeing him lying on his back on the bed, soaked in blood with the side of his face blown apart and a part of his head spread across the bed and on the floor and by then I had been in juvenile hall long enough to hate it there and for my aunt in Georgia to send word that she wasn’t coming for me.
I stayed there until the day after I graduated from high school at the age of eighteen. The worst four years of my life. I walked out of that place and never gave it another thought until today when I saw Lupita staring at me from across the coffee shop where I worked. She was eating a biscotti and drinking an extra large low-fat latte with a double shot of caramel and whipped cream on top. I hadn’t recognized her when she’d ordered it and I don’t know if she recognized me but she sat directly across from the counter and now she was staring at me; with recognition. The last thing I wanted to do was run into anyone from the Rodney Ackerman State Home for Orphans so I pretended I didn’t see the look she gave me and went back to serving customers. She didn’t wait for me to acknowledge her though. I had my back to the dining area refilling the coffee machine when she approached the counter.
“Hello Fattah,” she said.
I tried to pretend I wasn’t who she thought I was so I turned around and said, “Excuse me Ma’am?”
She laughed, “Oh come on Fattah, you know you recognize me.”
Okay, I did recognize her and there was no denying it. I dropped my head and said, “Okay go ahead, get your little remarks out and be done with it.”
She shook her head and said, “Oh I’m not here to make fun of you; I’m here to make you a proposal.” She stopped right there and waited. I guess she wanted to see if I was interested enough to ask her what it was all about. So I did, “What are you here to propose?” I asked. A woman about sixty years old came in then and asked for a plain old cup of coffee with two shots of cream and two teaspoons of sugar. The older ones were like that; they just wanted coffee the way it was always made, no fancy flavored creams or designer coffee. Just a plain old cup of joe with cream and sugar. I made the old lady her coffee and put one of those cardboard holders on it so she could hold it without burning her fingers, then I waited for her to leave before I asked Lupita to continue. When she did it wasn’t anything I expected. When you end up taking a dead end job after high school because you couldn’t afford college and it’s the only job you can find that’s the last place you want to run into any of your old high school acquaintances. And if you do run into someone the last thing you expect them to do is make you a proposal. And if they do run into you and they do make you a proposal the last thing you expect that job to be is the thing she offered me. I took off my apron and walked out of the coffee shop and never returned.
I know I should have given two week’s notice that I was leaving but based on the job offer that Lupita made to me walking out on a job in the middle of the shift was nothing. We didn’t even go back to my little one room studio apartment to get the rest of my stuff either; there wasn’t anything there that held any memory that I wanted to keep; we went straight to her place.
When we got there I had my second big surprise of the day. Her place was as pathetic as mine. I was so sure that because a family member accepted her into their family that her life turned out better than mine. I guess there was still a lot I had to learn. She pointed to her little sofa indicating that I should sit there and went to get two beers out of the freezer. Okay, she did have that over me; there was nothing in my freezer but wilted lettuce, and told me that the others would soon be arriving. The others turned out to be a rough looking guy about five foot five inches tall who appeared to be made up of all muscle, and another guy about six foot one equally muscular but ten times more good looking; mocha skin, raven dreadlocks and the fullest lips I’d ever seen. The two men seemed to take up all the space in the room when they entered. Lupita gave each of them a beer and sat on the couch next to me, they remained standing. The tall one spoke. He had a voice that sounded like he’d inherited it from Barry White, the singer; his teeth were so white and perfect I thought they must be dentures. I was so busy marveling over his good looks I almost missed what he was saying but then he said something that brought me out of the daydream.
“Whatever we make from our missions we share in equal parts except for me, as captain I get twice what everyone else earns.”
I smiled and tried to be funny, “That sounds like we’d be pirates Matey,” I closed one eye and made the traditional Popeye face. No one else laughed; they just stared at me. Then the ‘captain’ said, “So are you in or out?”
“We wouldn’t really be pirates though, right?” I asked.
“In or out?” he asked.
I turned to Lupita, “Is he serious, he’s talking about being pirates,” I looked from one of them to the other and didn’t see a smile from any of them. I stood up, “That’s not the job offer you made to me in the coffee shop.” She took a sip from her beer and said nothing, “You said I’d be working with experts in the field.”
“In or out?” he asked again.
“Who becomes a pirate anymore?” I asked, “There’s no such thing; it’s like becoming a knight. The job no longer exists!”
Do you know that tall, gorgeous, perfectly toothed man just kept a straight face and asked again, “In or out?”
I stood there with my mouth open looking from one of them to the other thinking about my options. I’d just walked out on a job that I hated, I had ten dollars left in my bank account, both my parents were long dead, I had no boyfriend; I didn’t even have a buddy, a chum, a pal, a best friend who would miss me or come to my funeral if I died in the next five minutes. There was just me and that damned memory of a gunshot and a bed full of blood and a man with his head blown open. I sat back down on the couch and said. “I’m in.”
On my children’s birthdays I always remember the events of the day they were born. This is the birthday of my second son, third child.
On that day my two older children were waiting for the school bus. It was going to be the first day the Clara Muhammad School would be getting City School District buses to take them to school. Sister Najmah got the school so well prepared that it was recognized by the city as a viable school and therefore eligible for City School District buses. So I got up, got them dressed in their uniforms, (green skirt and gold blouse for the girl, black pants and yellow shirt for the boy) fed them breakfast and waited for the bus which would pick them up right at the front door. Once the bus drove off with the children I turned to my husband and said, “Okay, now you can take me to the hospital; I’ve been having contractions all morning.” I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want the little ones to worry. It was a Monday; like today.
That was over twenty years ago and I can still remember it like it was last week. After I remember the birth I start going over moments with that child. Remembering events in their life at different ages; things that I had all but forgotten until the day of their birth. Wishing I had savored those moments more. Realizing just how precious those moments were. If I could only go back; how much more I would get out of those times. But at the same time being grateful for what I did get out of those moments and thanking Allah (God) for the blessing of memory to be able to relive them.
Now by the time we get to the 10th we will have celebrated 3 birthdays in this family (just MY little part of the family) the 7th and the 10th, not to mention my sister on the 15th, my niece on the 6th, and my other nieces on the 18th & 19th. We know how to start the year off partying don’t we.