Call Me “Bad Grass”


Olorisha Aboyade Bomani

An Obeah woman crossed the train tracks, right in front of the place where I work, she was dragging her skirt’s hem in a shuffling two-step. It was almost as if she was missing toes from her right foot, which forced the heel to make a momentous task out of a simple trot. She had a cigar in her mouth and red smoke shot out of its end with every puff. She wore a man’s shirt made of linen and a tingon on her head. She was a medium build charcoal/colored/grey-black woman with long arms and scars running from her temporal to the corner of her lips-on both sides of her face. Both scars rose up off the sides of her face like a road covered over with tar and then left alone cause don’t nobody care about solitary backroads-cept the inhabitants what got the wherewithal to tread there daily. Her face left me mesmerized. It was like a highway that was inadequately paved, a hideaway and the flesh that grew back had sown itself a bridge of mean meat over once upon a time-soft regal black skin. She looked at me and grinned, “What kinda shit you got yourself into. Thems white folks and you got to keep fightin them with the stuff was given to you, by them who was here before your mama knew what your daddy’s spit taste like. Shoot, you ain’t nothin but a keeper of spells, why you think your head hurts, and your chest swell up with pain-every now and then. You fight too fair, you too connected to right when you dealin with the sons and daughters of plantation owners. They ain’t got no notion of folks with your skin being nothin but walkin sin. You got to fight fire with lightnin.”

I tried to close my eyes and wish her away, I even pinched myself. It always works in the movies. Nevertheless, she didn’t disappear, she stayed put and laughed and that cigar never once slid from between the pocket on the left side of her mouth. “You want me to be a dream, pitty you. You want me to be a ghost but I’m blood and where I’m living is the only salvation for you. I got the sight to see what lies before you chile and I was chosen to come here and deliver you all them secrets. You didn’t choose to be the vessel, we waited in the dark areas of existence for some body able to use our tools and you were born – the right kinda brick mason was you.”

Now I’m standing here in the cool breeze of 6:45 a.m. waiting for the custodian to open up the school building so I can get a cup of highly caffeinated coffee, so I can outrun this mirage, this “I’m up too early in the morning/must still have sleep in my eyes/remnant of a dream/that wasn’t ready to part ways with me/even after the alarm clock’s signal.” Nevertheless, she refuses to leave me until I admit that she is a part of me. Until I say with my own words that we IS flesh of each other’s flesh. She goes down the line of folks on my mama’s side and my daddy’s side. Then seeing me almost in tears she say, “You have always known we would find you, those of us who put our blood on the line to have another chance to make things right for all our kin peoples who come across the water naked and with nothing cept the memory of what home smell like, what it taste like, what the drums bring outcha.  We are here lurking in the blood of the born and the yet to be born. We ain’t giving up or in.  So as long as you gon be comin out here Ima be comin cross them tracks, what else of importance I gots to do these days cept remind you of the GODDESS in you.”

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Then she stretched her arm out and I dropped my bags and walked into her embrace. I confide in her through a sea of tears, “This is sometimes a difficult ride to take, in the middle of confederate flag country. It’s hard to wake up every morning and put on a face of lies, pretending I am only a black woman in appearance, like I wouldn’t rather be educating black children in a setting of my own design.” She whispers, “Chile if it were easy then none of us would need a crossroad. A test is only a test when the odds are pass or fail. You doin fine, just got to bring the lightnin, ask for it and it’ll come. It likes you, you was born in the middle of a storm.” As the wind began to pick up she loosened her embrace and turned to walk away, “Chile this is what they call Indian land, all of it. Be careful here, sometimes vengeance hears only footsteps. Them Natives is madder than mad. You need to carry seven African Powers on your person – at all times here – know that. I’m moving on now, let your day begin. Listen for me again and if you wondering my name, a white man who took up the title as master once called me “bad grass”, cause everywhere I went white folks fell with a mysterious ailment. Got to the place they couldn’t sell me nowhere without fear, so they set me free. I kinda like that name “bad grass” so you can call me that too.” It was with that last statement that she was gone vanished with the humming of the train and the rustling of the magnolias. Gone but not forgotten at 7:10 a.m.

Now, folks might find it hard to believe this account of a woman from my mother’s side of the family some generations passed coming forth to deliver a message to me, that I took to be justification as to my destiny within ATR. That’s fine, if I’m looked at as a cook who rises so early in the morning that she allows her mind to play tricks on her to the point that she takes the word of figments from her imagination as truth. That’s fine as well. I know that the Ancestors reach back searching for those among us who refuse to buy into the mind shackles imposed by western ideology. They want us to reignite the flame of AfriKa’s long lost majestic reality, making it our reality again.

In coming issues of Oya-N-Soro, I will post other conversations had with my Ancestress, “Bad Grass” in a hopes that her consistent devotion even in the realm of the Ancestors will encourage us to channel the wisdom of our Egun in an attempt to bring us closer tour own individualized enriched destiny.

Article by Olorisha Aboyade Bomani

Olorisha Aboyade Bomani (Mawiyah Kai EL-Jamah Bomani) is a native New Orleanian and Omo OYA. Mawiyah’s writings have appeared in The Crab Orchard Review,Dark ErosCatch The FireFreeform MagazineBeyond The FrontierKente ClothFertile GroundFamily Portraits,Chicken Bones: A Literary Journal, Survival Digest QuarterlyFrom A Bend In The River and Women’s Issues and Feminism in the 21st Century. She is co-writer/director of the play Brown Blood Black Womb and of the plays Hair AnthemSpring ChickensWhat Happens to Niggers in French Quarter Nightclubs and Hoodoo Gumbo. Olorisha Aboyade is an educator who currently resides in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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