General

Penpal

When me did lickle a country, yuh see, me use to love write, yuh know. Everyting me ketch me write pon it, paper, wall, door, tree, dirt. Mama use to say: “What is wrong wid dis pickney doah, eeh? Yuh is a teacha?”

Chile, ah write some love-poem, yuh see (but me couldn’t mek mama see dem). But ah nevah start write yet. Memba when we use to buy Archie comic an dem have pen pal list so yuh can mek friend all ova di world? Chile, ah get whey. Ah write letter go an ah write letter come. Pretty soon, every day ah gawn a post office go call fi letter an me haffi get plastic bag fi carry home di amount a letter me get.

From near an far, young an old. Me nevah know seh is so much people want friend. Ah send picture, postcard, stamp, everyting wha can hold eena letter. An me get picture, handbag, earring, shoes, everyting dat can send in di mail. Chile, ah was Pen pal Queen. Den one a di time, yuh know, me got dis pen pal say him love me an want to get married, send married bead an all. Chile, di day me get di package, run chock from post office eena di hot broiling sun. When me reach di gate, a who me buck up eena but mama.

“What yuh got dere, Ambrosine?” she inquire.

“Is a gift, mama.” me respond.

“Gift? Wha kinda gift?”

An me proceed fi explain in most cautious terms. Mama holler out: “None of dat. But oonu see mi dying trial, doah eeh? What you know bout married? Yuh finish school yet? Gal, go put yuh head to yuh lesson an leave big people business alone. Married? Ah pop two switch fi yuh, yuh see married in yah today.”

Me say, ah was most abased. For me did tink seh me in love wid him, yuh know. Ma’am, when yuh see fi wi letter dem:

REMEMBER M, REMEMBER E PUT DEM TOGETHER AN REMEMBER ME and LET LOVE LIVE LONGER and DELIVER DI LETTER DI SOONER DI BETTER.

Chile, all kinda rhyming an ting. But since ah was an obedient an good girl (wink-wink), ah put an end to di romance.

But, di odda day, chile, went to di doctor office for a check-up. Di lickle nurse smile up at me when me tell har mi name. She say:

“I like your accent. Where are you from?”

An proudly ah announce di country of my birth.

“I had a pen pal from there once,” she say, “Amber or something.”

An we look pon each odda an bus out a peas-soup laugh. For is mi longtime pen pal Debbie who coulda write an write like a book she a compose. Chile, yuh cyaan hide eena foreign, so sure seh when you lef yuh lickle district say yuh a come a foreign, yuh lef wid good name for yuh nevah know who yuh might buck up eena dis foreign country.

About the author

Vjange Hazle