She could hear her parents fervently praying. She could hear her parents fervently trying to paint a facade of bold green palm trees, white sands and plumeria thickened breezes with urgent voices and a foreign tongue. Her grandmother lay dying amidst the descriptions her parents recited. They prayed and recited to hide the chipping sea foam green paint, the metal laden hospital bed and the American soil on which her grandmother was passing. This was not in her plan and her parents knew the disappointment her grandmother must have felt about dying in a land that was not hers. So they tried to protect her with the fabrication of tropical trees and breezes that existed 30,000 miles away.
Shina, only seven at the time, could hear faintly the lilting sing song of her parents’ improvisational island. She got to sit with the friendly white nurse and color Bozo the clown with her big box of crayons. She could not see her grandmother listening, she could not hear her grandmother’s shallow last breaths and she could not see her parents crying, praying and reciting.
Shina, although only seven, knew she did not want look inside that sea foam green room or listen too carefully. Her parents tried to make her go in and see her grandmother when it all began. They tried to make her go in when her mother started crying . Shina told her parents she wouldn’t go, but she didn’t tell her parents she was scared. Her little white friend, Wendy, went into the room not knowing she would see death that day. Shina refused and took to coloring Bozo instead. She would not dare round that corner from the den to the green room. By seventeen her parents never let her forget this moment of weakness, “you never said good bye to your grandmother. Look at Wendy, she went in to say good bye.” In truth, Shina had never really known the woman who was her mother’s mother and she never saw Wendy once past the age of ten.
Shina was seven and coloring a picture of Bozo the clown while her grandmother died in the next room. The nice white nurse in her hospital scrubs helped her color Bozo.
“How do I color the face? How do I make skin color?” Shina asked the nurse. Getting it right was critical. The clown had bright red hair and a red nose.
The friendly nurse smiled warmly and said, “This is how you make skin color with your crayons. You mix pink and yellow.” The nurse stopped her coloring lesson momentarily as she heard a shift in the next room where Shina’s grandmother was passing. Nothing alarmed her too much so she continued.
“See,” she smiled, proud of both her teaching and coloring skills. Shina looked at the unblended clash of yellow and pink that was supposed to be skin. She was dubious that this was right, but obeyed the nice nurse who was clearly the only person she could consult at the time.
A tiger sits in the shade under a tree.
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I grew up in a sexist household.
Carl Jung and Psychology
Coffee, sunshine, and solitude. All I need now is a song.
Things look different when you look up.
Fine gentlemen of the road: Cameron, Beau and Columbus.
The spring waves left me bellybutton sand as they washed over my sunkissed body.
Rolando Street Fair, 2014