Monday, October 14, 2013

In Commemoration of A Parting

This is a piece I wrote in school, and I'm publishing it here in commemoration of my grandmother, who passed away four years ago yesterday. 

I had been wearing black. It was kind of ironic, actually, that I was already clothed in the cheerless color. But that day, as I entered my third grade classroom, the clothes weren’t worn sadly, at least not yet. I had dressed up in my older sister’s hand me fuzzy black sweater and my favorite yoga pants. I must have thought I looked cool, like a spy or something. I vividly remember sitting there on the carpet at the end of the day, tall and proud in my “slick” outfit as our teacher read to us.
          I boarded the bus, and as we screeched to a halt and the driver opened the doors with the trademark hiss, I felt something was wrong. My father was standing there, still in his work clothes. That was extremely unusual, as he worked until 5:30 pm and it was only 4. But my younger sister didn’t seem to think much of it, so for a while, neither did I. He probably came home for lunch or something. As we entered the house, my younger sister’s mindless, shrieking chatter still echoing in my ears (as her LOUD shrieks often did), my father cleared his throat.
          “I have some very sad news,” he said.
Oh no. I knew it. Our cat had been getting older and slower. But before I could start shrieking, my father had some more news to deliver.
“Ammi-Ammi (my grandmother) has passed away.”
Looking back on it, it had sounded like he was reading from a script. But how do you really explain the concept of “parting from this world” to those who are only beginning to understand it?
My head began to spin. Dead? My sister and I wore matching expressions of confusion, then, all at once, everything clicked. I dropped my bag down on the floor and walked slowly up to my room, closed the door, and folded up in my red desk chair.
I hope that I will never sob the way I did that day. Ammi-Ammi, my maternal grandmother, was dear to me. She was soft and cuddly, the way all grandmothers are. She was delicate, with small feet and a love for things like flowers, violet perfumes, and fragrant powders. She was feisty and endearingly silly at times. All these things came flooding back to me, and I was suddenly hateful of my black outfit. Why? Whywhywhywhywhy was the question I repeated to myself as I sobbed. After I had cried myself dry, I just sat there. And that is the worst kind of sorrow. When you cry, you at least have something to focus on. But when those tears are dry, you have to face the reason.
After I had collected myself into a reasonable heap of misery, I plonked downstairs and sat in my father’s lap. Just then, my mother came rushing out of her closet. And I will only say one thing: I have only ever been able to put a face to anguish once, and it is hers.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Whether They're Designer or Hand-Me-Downs, Walk In Them

      At our school, we recently sat together as a student body and listened to a motivational speaker by the name of Dr. Michael Fowlin, also known as Mykee. He left us with the phrase, "Don't do what you should do--do what you need to do." He bowed toward us, hands clasped, pleading that we would walk away with something after this performance. As we were leaving the auditorium, I remarked to my friend, "I don't think that they probably took anything away from that," nodding toward the giggly group of crop-top and "short-short" clad girls. If anyone else heard that, they most likely would think that I didn't either. 
     Although I don't consider myself at the bottom of the wretched social ladder that divides middle-school, I am most certainly far from the top. But even so, does that automatically make my remarks upon the groups above me "non-nasty" or something to be agreed with, whereas if they said the same sentence, it would be considered snarky or spiteful? Although I know that I am not mean (or at least I hope that I'm not), I sometimes wish I could take away those casual remarks that fall from my lips as judgements that I know I wouldn't want to be at the recieving end of.
     So let's talk about this "other" species. Yes, they may have more money than I do, or more friends, and yes, they can be mean. But I don't think that makes them any better or worse than me. Neither of us has the right to pass judgements on the other. After all, we were all born as slippery, wailing babies, weren't we? (Unless you're like me, and was born with a pitful, pathetic mewl rather than a robust roar.) We all have differences. We should all respect those differences. 
     I am not trying to justify people being able to bully others because of their social status. I am simply sending out a request as Dr. Mykee did--"Don't judge me," the phrase that is added jokingly by all people after revealing something strange that they do, has a deeper meaning. I write this as an apology to all those I have passed judgements against and as a hopeful message to others that they will not do the same. Walk a mile in somebody else's shoes. Whether they are designer 3-inch platforms and really hurt your feet, or the most torn up sneakers you've ever seen, retain judgement until you do.