In the wake of a summer filled with visitors, our home is full of odds and ends that have been gifted or left behind. Hershey’s Kisses, needlepoint art, crocheted scarves, Turkish hamam towels, mesh butterflies, Auroville incense and oils, DVDs, books. Inadvertent remnants of a bottle of shampoo, the scent of my mom’s caramel perfume oil. Photographs. Hundreds of new and old images now populate my side of the laptop, my Facebook page, the little corner by the dinner table.
Something/someone always gets left behind and has to fill the now-empty space. Reorganising these new objects to set up visual cues of the people that we miss. Returning to the daily routine of work, grocery shopping, home, sleep. Lather, rinse and repeat.
This week is the nine-year memorial of the September 11, 2001 tragedy. In the meantime a debate rages in America about a proposed Islamic community centre that would be built near the remnants of Ground Zero. What remains of American xenophobia and racism has been highlighted over and over during this discussion. The misinformation has lead to violent attacks against people who may or may not be Muslims, but are perceived as Al-Qaida by their fellow Americans.
Nine years ago, after the sky opened up and the World Trade Centers collapsed into ash, I never would have imagined how the right-wing media have managed to spin that event into a sounding board for the promotion of hatred and fearmongering.
On August 31, 2010 my only remaining grandparent passed away, another example of the Death at a Distance phenomenon discussed by my friend Catherine Yigit in a recent expat+HAREM post. At the time of my Aachi’s death I can’t say I felt much: I was quite angry at her with regards to family issues and I had emotionally detached from her last year post-Christmastime.
On Saturday, September 4, 2010, I found out that my Aachi left me a 10-or-so page missive about my Sri Lankan family history. She wrote the letter after my first visit back to Colombo a few years ago as a response to the ton of questions I asked her about about my ancestry. At the time she couldn’t tell me everything she wanted to because, apparently, not everyone in the family knows these dark secrets. She wrote the letter and gave it to my mother to give to me after her death. From what I’ve heard, this letter rattles the foundation of whatever semblance of family composes my massively dysfunctional relatives.
Since Saturday I’ve started leaving out small plates of food for Aachi. This is a Lakota tradition I learned of through my spiritual relations Grampa Tony Black Feather (who also died in August, although in the year 2004) and Aunty Charmaine White Face. This Spirit Food is so that the departed can still participate in our lives and know we honour their memory, their legacy. Leaving these plates for Aachi iis my way of saying “Thank you”. She has given me all the information that remain of my Sri Lankan heritage. I may have my fourth novel’s premise in mind. It’s hard to be angry with her now.
October 28, 2010 will mark the 10-year point since my darling Wendy was torn from her life by a crackhead, gun-toting, car-jacking, gang member. From the remnants of that horrific trauma, I have done my best to make a life for myself of which Wendy would admire and be proud. The results of so much pain have been shaped into my first novel, 410 blog posts, 13 published articles, thousands of photographs, dozens of Angel drawings, four tattoos, my hybrid/MONSTER sideshow exhibit.
Still, I am haunted by surviving Wendy’s murder. This is the time of year when remnants of fear surface. I am more prone to anxiety attacks, my sense of safety feels compromised from within, I find myself overcome with tears in the most inappropriate of places, like on the tram to work or in the Vietnamese market that does not have tomato sauce. My heart palpitates, my fingers go numb, I have to remind myself to breathe in, breathe out.
Stitch these remnants together like you would a quilt:
The shape of my pain.