How hard did my grandmother cry? As she was forced to fit her entire life into one small suitcase, your father hoisted onto his shoulders before the next bomb exploded! Seven crowded into one room. Behind a corner store. Where you sunk into the silence of defeat. No one acknowledged how they were one and the same. Longing for the homeland. Weeping into the orange blossom water laced espresso. How hard did those racist boys hit? When they backed you into dead end alleys, for the mother tongue you muttered. For the yarmulke you wore. Show humility before g-d on high holidays. For the stench of the food that lingered on your clothes. Proving you were, after all, just a foreign product of the war. You refused to blend in with a culture that did not want you. When did you decide that that country would never hold you again? Lest it be for a crime, committed against the politicians, that used and abused your hoyas. Some of whom got left behind. Hidden in abandoned synagogues. Hoping they too were not tortured to death... Forty years after your mouth still spat perfect Parisian French. Your mind struggled to recall hypnotizing melodic roughness that you catch fleeting moments of when forbidden love songs ring out over spinning 45's. We walked the gardens that held your first acidic vibrations. Peddled for third world treasures. Under the metro overpass, across from Julie's apartment. You warn me to watch my bag. Hide my pale blues from these men who only want one thing. The canal, the Seine, all holding your youth. When muscles were taut, girls smiled shyly, hoping you would offer to buy them a drink. But you could only offer a Dunhill Rouge™, some great Kashmiri charas. Airplanes landed after legs were broken. Back home to Bagnolet cutting open that secret cast full of Casablanca smoke. The real Tangier tiger. Stained chocolate brown. Crumbling nicely. I tottered from chair to chair being fed pomme noisette. Ma struggled in a foreign land. Alain cracked jokes. You took a nap to get up to pay the bills. Dreaming of flight once more. All those times I snuck away to glue the pieces of the broken mug you sat at home wondering. How you were ever given such a tyrant? A girl. I wondered why you could not remember it is always the baby who chooses. Last time the beggar wanted a bite. I waited for a train to retrace our steps, 1989. Wishing we were retracing them together. Wishing you knew how hard I worked to shake off all the stigmas all the discrepancies all the disappointment... I could only ever be me. How hard did you struggle trying to break free? Screaming when you were held down. Your hair chopped off. How easy was it to leave with the d'sengouni under your arm? Heading to the land of the free. Home of the slaughtered braves. How painful was it to know I too had to run in order to settle? Under you- Content in our private cocoon. Here comes that train again rumbling the tracks with blood on them. Dylan croons softly in the background. We reach for the lighter at the same time.
Eva Cherokee El Beze grew up in San Francisco, CA in an anarchist theatre collective. Eva has been published in magazines, journals and books as well as won awards for stage and film scripts. You can follow her on Twitter @evaelbeze She divides her time between India, Europe, Africa and California.