Grandma's Hands


cayley - Posted on 28 September 2010

Author: 
Joseph Bolden

1965. It’s easy, innocent what happened.  “Grandmother has her ways.  It’s best to do as she says.  In her home, do what she says.”  My mother told me.
 

That morning I was up want to go out and check out the library, play with friends- anything as long as I was out of grandma’s place.  That day felt different.  I wasn’t 11 yet but still there was an awkward feel that day.  I decided I wanted to eat toast, jam, grits, scrambled eggs and tea with honey, which tasted better than sugar.  When grandmother asked what I wanted I told her, and she said,
“You’re having oatmeal or cereal with milk.”
“But Mother I don’t want that.  I want…”
“Phyllis, is this how you raise your children?”
Grandma said to my mother.
“He doesn’t like it, he won’t eat it.”
“He’ll eat what’s set before him.”

    I know I should’ve just eaten it like I always did, but for reasons I still don’t fully understand I refused again.  “Mother (Grandmother) I don’t like…”

    The hand was swift. SWOOOOH, TWAP.  It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last, but before I felt tears well up I damned them up literally and forced them back under my eye lids breathing as my mother (Phyllis) looked away.

    Oh, I ate huge globs of ‘Cream of Wheat’ a box with the black man on it.  For a moment I hated him, my mother, my grandma even my little brother because he’s wasn’t old enough to eat the white, sugar-buttered stuff.  I didn’t hate all cereal; not Yellow Cornmeal or Quaker Oats but cream of wheat and shredded wheat.

    I excuse myself and went to the bathroom, locked the door, spit out the vile stuff, washed my mouth.  Then returned to eat the tiny last bit of it.  Then I thanked my grandmother and kissed her.

“Wasn’t that a good breakfast?” Grandmother asked.
“Yes, motherrr, (meaning my Grandmother) it was good.”
I was fuming but kept control to escape from the place so I could spend all day and some of the night away from grandma’s.

    From then on I woke up early to leave grandma’s house. I was hungry sometimes.  There were free box lunches for me and other kids and when there wasn’t, better to go hungry than eat what I couldn’t stand.

 

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