Family Portrait

This old one here, yes the one in the middle was taken during one of those sad family moments. In those days the cameraman rode a bicycle and used to visit our village once a week. And whenever he was needed, we all had to shower, comb our hair and prepare in advance so as not to annoy him.

When he got annoyed, he would demand for tea and bites and since he was the only man with a camera for miles, we obliged. Of course, he got annoyed every time he came. This is the only time he came and took photos without getting annoyed. We had just buried Uncle Josephat. Do you remember him?

He had been an archbishop during his youth and resigned to be a farmer. He had a bald head as long as an airstrip and walked with a slight limp. What do you mean you can’t remember him? He is the one that kicked your mother out of the family when she had you out of wedlock. Of course he later forgave her but I tell you that old man had a mean temper. Well his death was the reason why nearly everyone in the family was in the picture.

The first one on the extreme left of the picture you know. That’s Judy, you auntie on your mother’s side. Yes she is the one who ran away to the city as a girl and came back with three children and no husband. It was the second time since she visited and we all knew she came because she thought Uncle Josephat left her something. I can safely say that the only thing the old man left her were more curses. You should have seen how angry she was after the funeral.

She even left without saying goodbye. With such an attitude no wonder none of her kids resemble each other, not that I am saying anything here. And the one that’s kneeling here is Obadiah. Yes, the very same Obadiah. Of course he works in the church, where else would he be now? And don’t give me that look. You don’t know anything about that man.

Two decades ago when you were still running around with mucus streaming down your dirty nose and in a long shirt with no underwear, he was the man of the village. In those years, mothers would call in their teenage daughters at the mere sight of him. He called himself the prince. Prince of darkness was more like it. Don’t look at the wrinkles and be fooled. Even I, at my prime could not be compared to this guy. The fellow was all muscle and with facial features that made women want to elope with him. And his trips to the Caribbean only added salt to injury. He wore those buggy trousers, danced salsa like it was the traditional dance and sang all the hits on the radio.

But look at what that got him; two children out of wedlock, a prison sentence and a job in a church that barely pays him enough. Maybe that’s why he also got that nagging short fat wife of his. Must be payment for all the hurt he caused all them village girls whose hearts he broke. That woman ails when her mouth is shut. She must have spoken her parents to an early grave because I heard they died when she was young. She will very soon drive Obadiah to his grave. Blah blah blah… she must speak more words in a minute than a monkey can chatter in the same time. Of course I know Obadiah would be pissed off if he heard me telling you this but it is the truth and he can’t deny it. Plus this is not the only woman he claims to have loved.

That boy has loved more women in his life than he can count. Anyways, forget Obadiah, you see this one here; this was your mum in her heydays. Your mother was a looker. There used to be a box of love letters somewhere in the house and all the letters were addressed to her. Of course that didn’t do her any good. She was proud and treated all other girls like ugly ducklings.

She got you before she finished secondary school. And in those days girls rarely went to school. And when she got you, she spoilt it for every other girl around. It took a couple of years before any old man sent his girl to school. There is this time when we found your mother and that Indian… oh well, never mind.

Do you want to look at the next picture?

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4 thoughts on “Family Portrait

  1. I love this family portrait… no good in deed and yes, it would be good to ” see” the next picture…. what an interesting ending

  2. Excellent use of a dialog narrative for a very familiar moment between two people. I first wondered, ‘where’s the photo?’ then realized you had taken the shot in a way far better than a glossy print could ever depict. Your writing is both unique and captivating.

    And, thanks for commenting on “Just Because You Were Born in America.”

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