Instalment II – Wherein our Little Heroine makes merry

Tales from the Tropics II

I’m still thinking about New Year. I assign all this cathartic meaning to this day that I think can cleanse me. Duh, it’s probably the Catholicism. What is the resurrection?

I have low grade anxiety humming beneath my skin, this is something new here. I’m trying to ride the wave by immersing myself in religion. I have said rosaries every day and I want Jesus to give me a gold star.

The speed in which I am writing this is just punishment for how out of practice I am. Writing, surprisingly not like a bike. Okay, let’s go!

A Very Merry Cultural Christmas

It is my first Christmas home for over 10 years. All I remember from my memories of Christmas past are visiting relatives and polite eating plates of food everywhere we went.

This year, we will have a family Christmas at the house. This means instead of the open door fiesta policy that was common when my grandmother was much younger and able to execute a party with more formidable skill than North Korea’s army we will sit down to a meal. That’s normal. It’s pretty white actually.

In our living room is a giant cardboard box full of toys, individual snacks and the kind of shit that makes my consumer aware ass ill. I look of the mass of Christmas joy and think ‘garbage island’. Grinch bitch.

It is not uncustomary for strangers to pass by the house to, in want of a better word… beg, for Christmas alms.

My Grandmother’s house does not have a high fence made of concrete with glass shards or barbed wire crowning the top. She has a regular hedge and a regular fence that makes our house the most inviting. When she comments on the mansion that a cousin built across from or house she simply says that it looks like they live in a prison and the secret to bougainvillea’s blooming is human piss. A house of flowers.

All morning, acquaintances drop by, knowing they will receive cake and money.

All morning rounds of strangers will stand by our fence and ask for gifts.


All morning my aunt will pull presents from the box. It’s a real exercise in Christian giving and kindness. Everyone who comes is welcome.

I’m standing on the balcony drinking Hydrolyte when an ageless woman with no teeth starts screaming at me. It’s not a heckle. I speak the local dialect but she must not be, her toothless grin is freaking me out. But I’m too western to admit that it jars me. I’m too well bred to be visibly confronted by poverty. My Grandmother comes from behind me and tells me to open the gate. The toothless woman is the woman who collects our bottles and plastics to sell back to the government (acquaintance). The toothless woman is so lacquered by the sun that only the sag of her skin betrays her age. I bring cake and coca cola and there sits my regal grandmother asking about the bottle trade and talking about how there will be plenty of bottles because the family is complete for New Year. How gracious.

SJ xx

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