Volume Two, Issue 3

Crudeness and Creole Part 2:

Cruelty and Creole

Darryl Wawa

Characters are what draws us to stories, and good characters become archetypes. If an archetype is a house, then the Veve, the symbol, is the gate. Think exclusivity. That is the Loa, the Mistè which translates into Law or Mystery in English. In Vodou every Loa belongs to a book/clan, and every book/clan represents a set of fundamental values that different Mysteries within it share. I am particularly interested in and affiliated with the clan of or the book of Gede/Ghede. They are perversely honest, foul-mouthed embodiments of hardship, the keepers of the underworld, of fertility, harvest and sexuality, patrons of death, sex and health and the protectors of children. They are the ones who don't always get invited to the party but also the most feared and revered, and the ones that people call for serious advice. They are sex and drug addicts, heavy smokers and drunkards, impolite watchdogs with kind hearts, tough lovers with little patience for bullshit. They're the Dionysian lawyers holding Zeus' scale. If I am Gede, then I can understand honestly, without bias and I suffer for it. No political correctness, no Willy-Wonking, no Mickey Mouse ethos. The reward for this cross, LaCroix, is Dionysian pleasure, the possibility for ecstatic dance. It's a very Christian ethos and logos with the exclusion of saint-hood and purity. The mistake is expected here and embraced. If I prove my honesty, then I have the right to show you what's really inside, what it costs. All Gedes go by the last name "Gede" and "LaCroix," according to their manifestation. "Gede," is the more playful side and "LaCroix," the more serious. There are also variations in between, but these two are definitely the consistent, unifying factors of this book/clan where the color palette consists of shades of white, black and purple. The Gede are the keepers of the Sabbath, the keepers of merit. Gede at its core, is a behavior in service to the truth.

My father's father wasn't a drinker, but he had a very nasty mouth, so much so that it earned him a reputation. We all talk about his language in good humor, even those who've been slapped across the face by his hands or his insults. He'd say things like: "I must have fucked your mother from behind when I had you," to imply stupidity, or "whores shit lead," to imply that "bad women" have a lack of bowel movement from lying so much, in other words, that they are gutless. Or how he told my cousin "You're the only one in the family as ugly as I am," or "You look like an extraterrestrial," or "Your head looks like the moon." That man had a shocking lack of sensitivity towards his own children, and most people, something that he spared me, and some of his other grandchildren. The funny part is that this nastiness could also transform into the most hilarious humor. The complexity of his cruelty is a mystery to me. My grandfather certainly didn't like everyone, didn't like most people, but when he liked you, he liked you. He was a very particular man, a very smart man who left school at the age of 13 and became an expert plumber, electrician, and a shrewd businessman. When he teamed up with my grandmother, their unrelenting work ethic and professionalism, and his affiliation with a dictator, Papa Doc, earned them both a name in Haitian society. He provided for his 8 children who never went hungry, for all his tyrannizing them. We are the Wawas. So where do I draw the line with this man, my grandfather, who loved me and counseled me at times, who knew what to say to me at the right time, who left his family property but was abusive to my grandmother, to my father and his other children, who was affiliated with a mass murderer. My inability to fully condemn him or my mother's mother for that matter, guilty of similar or worse offenses towards her children, though she is saved from political condemnation, often plagues me with a feeling of inferiority, all the more that my great-grandmother (mother's father's mother) was one of the premier advocates of democracy and civil and women's rights in Haiti. It's a familial duality that I live with and that often troubles me. In Creole, I'd say that I feel like a kalambè which literally translates into "dead dick skin," or "he who runs from honor." My father's father lived to keep his upper hand, and my mother's mother lives for this same principle, yet she shows me love as well, be it out of guilt or genuine affection, and so my trashing and judging of these two characters, these two archetypal parallels, always dissolves itself eventually to tenderness. To quote Ocean Vuong, "Tenderness is something we are beaten into." I am standing by a small cemetery in front of a black cross that also looks like top hat, and my superstitions are rekindled. The Baron, they call this cross or Papa Gede, Baron Samdi, Baron LaKwa, Baron Simitiè, Baron Kriminel (Father Gede, Baron of the Sabbath, Baron of the Cross (Baron LaCroix), Baron of the Cemetery, Criminal Baron), and his wife Bridgette or Grann Brijit, Manman Brijit, Manzè, Bouzen, Madan LaCroix (Lady Bridgette, Mother Bridgette, Sister, Whore, Misses LaCroix). Gede says: the truth has a price, to look at life primarily through the lens of disgust and I am here now, fully agreeing.

Darryl Wawa: "I am a a Port-au-Prince born Haitian-American who studied Photography and Creative writing. I enjoy chocolate and good books. That said, maybe a movie is a good book. I love to work with images and words and their pairing."

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