The Show Down

While resting there on the street alone, a girl whom I had recently met on the first floor of Magnolia came and sat next to me and I conversed with the child innocently. My Aunt Gwenie apparently picked me out of the crowd and started screaming my name,”Juni! Juni!”

She called again and again and I began to feel ashamed. I tried to ignore her because I was really tired and embarrassed and totally stunned by the way she was behaving. There was no way I could ignore her, however, and I was convinced that she had no consideration for my feelings as a teenager nor cared about the important things in my life at the time.

I couldn’t believe that this person who was behaving so hysterically had, minutes before, been in a meeting asking God to protect them against their enemies. She was acting like a very uncouth person screaming down the street, something I always detested seeing in a lady. To my relief and joy, the noise of the crowd of people in the prayers meeting began to taper off, but she, knowing exactly what she was doing, urged them to continue their chanting perhaps to mask her persistent and hysterical calls. Having participated in some of these Beji’nite church services I always welcomed them as one more positive experience in my life, so it wasn’t like I was avoiding prayer meeting.

My aunt’s home church meeting did not end until about ten o’clock that night. After making sure that I had seen the last of the guests leave, I decided to climb the stairs and enter our one-room to deal with the three most important women in my life. But, my young aunt met me at the door with a resounding slap in the face as was her custom. Immediately before answering her hysterical taunting I left the room and slipped into the area where I thought it would be safe where the alleged shadow of God had recently visited.

After they had concluded their prayer meeting I thought I’d find shelter in my small cot until the next morning when I’d be in a better, more refreshed frame of mind to confront my nagging aunts. But, as destiny would have it, the spirit of God would be no where near and I would only meet up with the spirit of the devil himself in the person of my abusive young aunt. Instead of surrendering my aunt Gwenie followed me into the room and would have continued smacking me had I not put up resistance. In a firm voice I said sharply, “I will not allow you to continue to hit me because I have not done anything!” In a state of heightened rage, however, she launched her war cry, “You thinks you a man,ha?! You’ve outgrown your short pants, have you? I’m going to show you that you are not yet a man! ” I, in turn, kept warning her that I wouldn’t allow her to shame me any more.

“Look Gwenie,” I said. “I will not let you embarrass me again. I have done nothing to deserve to be treated this way! ” She grabbed me to inflict further damage on me but I stiffened in defiance of her threats. I knew immediately that she had felt my strength and I stood my ground determined not to allow her to provoke the worst in me or let her goad me into answering her blows with blows of my own just to defend myself. Despite my efforts to evade her she followed me around the room and wouldn’t leave me alone. In order to rid myself of her I finally said, “I’m going to be with my mother!” “Well, you go ahead and do that. Go because you’re nothing but a snake in the grass! ” she hissed at me in a frenzy.

For me it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the very last humiliation I would tolerate. It was an indirect reference to the “treachery” of my mother, and my sister Aminta and I had had to bear these allusions for many years since we were children.

But that night, it seemed that Obeah, the spell, the witchcraft had been loosed in that humble room where I had been sleeping without problems for more than three years while she was always out working. But the disgrace and curse against which they had been praying was standing right in front of me that night. Only the Lord was my judge, because in those moments I felt very alone, especially when my aunt opened her mouth to let loose such insulting and cutting words.

This story continues.

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