So far, America was terrible.
Cindy put her feet on the ground. Her toes were greeted with dried up rice grains. The grooves in the carpet told tales of pacing, and gross neglect. People had clearly cried here. She struggled to sleep that first night, until the woman who ran the house, Winsome came in and snuck her some whites. It burned her chest to no end, but it calmed her down for sure.
Going to America sounded like a good idea at first, but as soon as she got off the plane, and took a look around, Cindy realized that she may have made a huge mistake. Sure, this place was supposed to be full of endless opportunities, but what about the fact that the racism was thicker than the freshly baked hard dough bread she had sworn off years ago because it went straight to her thighs?
How would the white people treat her here? Perhaps the same way they treated her in Jamaica. Like a piece of furniture, or in certain cases, like an exotic animal that was to be gawked at here and there, but was still considered dangerous.
She dressed nicely yesterday, thinking that she might see some beautiful movie star, like Morris Chestnut, or Denzel Washington, and he would be so smitten with her that she would never have to take one of the menial jobs she came for. Instead, she would be whisked off to some beautiful home in Beverly Hills where there was a maid, instead of being the hired help herself. Alas, the black dress, and flat sandals she wore didn’t garner any attention from anyone but the young boys hired to handle the luggage. Winsome sent one of the other house girls to pick Cindy up. The car was a modest Ford Focus with a couple dents on the passenger side door. When Sharon put the window down, and stuck out her arm to get Cindy’s attention, Cindy whispered under her breath,
“A dis mi come to?”
In that very moment, she heard her mother’s admonishment.
“You tink seh yuh too nice, sitten a guh reach yuh true yuh so red yie.”
If Mama could see her now.
Using her perfectly manicured hands, Cindy gently brushed the debris off her feet, and shuffled to the bathroom. There was someone in there already, so she would have to wait. Cindy propped herself up against the battered wall of the hallway. The girl in there was on the phone sobbing.
“ Mi nuh like di place. It too dutty! Lawd Jesus me shoulda stay a mi yaad. Mi nevah know seh Merica did stay so. I cyaaaa believe!”
Cindy realized this call was going to last a while. It was highly probable that the young lady was going to speak to everyone in her home before she got off of the phone. Instead of continuing to wait, Cindy made her way back down the hall. She scoffed at the comments being made by the girl. Cindy figured she must be young. Probably left her child back home to come and work. That was the immigrant way sometimes. Cindy didn’t have anyone. Only Dwayne, and they had kind of agreed to just cut ties.
“Yuh soon gone a foreign. Waa di sense we try fi mek tings work. Yuh soon find a money man.”
Cindy thought of his bronze shoulders, and kind eyes. He was the only man she had ever been with. She had no plans to come here and meet anyone. Cindy’s dream was to work, save enough money to purchase a home, and put herself through school. She wanted to become a professor. UWI was an option while she was at home, but staying in Jamaica wasn’t. She had no parents, no siblings, no one to take care of her. Once Auntie Patsy caught her husband looking at Cindy when she was around 18 years old, she made it clear that Cindy had to “find someplace guh.” After moving to a rooming house with an older woman who was a good friend of the family, Cindy worked day and night to get enough money saved for a plane ticket. A bandulu hook up for a Visa sealed the deal.
Winsome was a lady who used to live in her parish, and had started a little village of sorts for Jamaican girls who didn’t want to live in New York, or Florida.
California was a world away from Jamaica, but that might actually be a good thing. It was a totally fresh start in a place where so many people wanted to be.
“Woooiii watch hot gyal Cindy! She soon deh pon tv! Yes, Goodie! Walk out!”
Cindy sat on the edge of the bed, and bit the nail of her thumb. The bed made a squeak as the weight of her body forced it down towards the drab carpet. She was thinking about her last outing with her girlfriends before flying out. Abigail, her best friend, and had organized a small going away party for her. She mused that it might take time to find new friends in America. This scared her a little bit, although she didn’t come here to play. She came here to work, and get an education. Nothing was going to stop that. Maybe it was better that she had no one in this world. More motivation to ascend to the top. Prove her mother wrong, and herself right.
“Ah cyaaa boddah. Me nah guh ah nuh bomboclaat wuk todeh! Move from side ah mi!”
There was commotion in the hall. Cindy jumped up off the bed, and ran to the door to peek out. The girl from the bathroom was stomping by, her orange hair askew. She got to her room and slammed the door. Winsome was standing at the bathroom door with her hands on her hips. She was wearing bedroom slippers, and a house dress. Her hair was beautifully coiffed. She had a clay mask on her face. It seemed like the girl’s tirade had interrupted her morning routine.
“Cho! Mi nuh know why dem hot gyal always come up yah an gih trouble.”
“Merica ah no no raas paradise! Somebody need fi tell dem before dem waste plane fare.”
Cindy used this opportunity to gain access to the shared bathroom. She walked slowly towards Winsome.
“Mawnin Ms. Winsome. Can I use the bathroom to get ready?”
Winsome gave her a slight smile. It was warm, but formal.
“Yes, Dawlin. Please hurry and get ready so Ramone can tek unnuh to work.”
“Mi mek some tea already, so as yuh finish put on yuh clothes, meet me inna di
“You sleep good last night? Mi know seh tings different from yaad, but yuh aright. Nobody nah trouble yuh. Jus save yuh money, ah wuk yuh plan. An no breed fi one a dem dutty niggah weh nah care dem pickney. Tie up yuh foot.”
“Yes, Ms. Winsome. I slept well.”
Cindy ignored the woman’s other commentary. She wasn’t her mother, after all. Just a woman who had reached America before she did, and somehow secured this house as a means of reaching backwards, and helping young women who had situations they needed help from. Cindy had no plans to meet anyone and let them impregnate her. That’s all Jamaican women think about. That and cooking for the idiot they make the babies with, knowing full well that he is making babies with other women too. Cook, iron, wash, walk with your chest out because the same man has been breaking your heart for most of your life. A great life indeed. Cindy had been rejecting this plan since she was a young girl. Her mother would slap her for saying she wasn’t getting married or having kids.
“ You waa be a whore den? If a so-yuh need fi come out.”
I guess Mama sort of spoke it into existence.