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Monday, December 20, 2010

Mother To Son: Go Read a Book!

Drawing property rights to The Abeng.../ YardCore Int'l, Publishing

Copyright 2010 K. Omodele

One sun-parched, Third World July noon, a mother scurries around a metal-creaking kerosene stove, simmering curry chicken and white rice in enamel pots when she notices her eleven-year old son fingering a string, making diamonds.
Mother to Son:
“Boy, yuh bored, nuh?”
He snorts but doesn’t look up.
“If yuh bored, go and read a book! You can travel round the world in a book.”
The boy throws away the string. “OK, Mummie.”

Years later in Foreign, one January evening with the mercury sinking two degrees below zero, she’s stirring up marrow-heating soup with provisions and dumplings. He’s in his mid-teens and she refuses to buy more than one T.V., which she locks and keys in her bedroom.
“You won’t be like the typical American pickney*, nursing on no boob tube. This thing dims out yuh wits. It too visual. It show and tell you what to think, so yuh don’t even use your imagination to picture what nice piece a chicken would look like, smell like. I want yuh wonder and envision what a Andorran sunset look like, why blood deh in George Jackson eye, what Gambia mussy** feel like to Kunta Kinte. I don’t want yuh depend on the T.V. to show you.”
“Mummie, everybody I know in school got a T.V. in their room. We living in Foreign now. Is Foreign.”
“And wha happen to that? Well then read a foreign book, then. You not getting no T.V. in yuh room. Hear me, GO READ A BOOK!”

One morning three years later he’s taking this girl, Missy, home from Days Inn after a night that began in a dancehall with her gazing at his rope chain. He pulls his BMW up outside The Blue Nile across the street from Howard University. He doesn’t live with Mummie anymore and now three T.V.’s sit like Great Propagators around his apartment.
The girl’s eyes furrow. “What you stop here for?”
She half hides a chuckle and hurries behind him into the bookstore.
He nods at the girl behind the counter, “Morning,” and heads straight to the new releases where he snatches up Assata Shakur’s autobiography and marches back to the counter.
As he hands the book to the cashier, he feels Missy stare. He glares back.
She says, “I don’t mean no harm but I ain’t never known no nigga that bought no book.” She glances around the Blue Nile. “Shit, I ain’t never been with no nigga in no bookstore.”
He winces while paying fifteen dollars for the book. “You still ain’t.”
“Ain’t what?”
“Been with no nigga in no bookstore.” He spat. “I ain’t no nigga, dutty gyal***” He can feel Mummie grimacing.
The cashier gives him his change and a grin.
The girl catches her jaw before it hits the ground. “You look like a nigga to me!” she says, snaking her neck.
“And you sound like a dutty gyal to me. Go read a book, any book.”
He two-steps out the door, the girl at his heels.

**must be
***dirty girl

Copyright 2010 K.Omodele


  1. @Aks... Yuh dun Know!!! tell dem again...

  2. Great writing. I love that the piece is so self-contained. Though it's short, it leaves you thinking, the way I like my prose to do!

  3. This is fantastic. As a writer, you are the real deal the balance and the connectedness of the experience at the three stages of the protagonist's life...and de dutty gyal at the end; the profane and the profound. Love it.

  4. @ Maxine What is it that publisher said to you? Oh, its "thinly veiled autobigraphy." LOL

    @ K. Ako... Yes, King. I loved creating this piece. Fun, fun.



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