Guest blogger Zaya Kuyena is back with a reflective piece
The end of a Tuesday last month led me to escape work on a taxi driven by a calmly mid-aged Indian who had me listen to the reports of the newly elected president, Barack Obama on Punjabi radio station. All I was hearing was the names Barack Obama and John McCain repeated rapidly as the graceful driver was leading me home while giving me update to date translations. As the taxi cab rolled around the circle where meets all three buildings contextually similar in design and aesthetic, my disregard for the elevator and my raps ascension on the stairs showed my electric excitement to watch history unfold on the télé just before the clock hit midnight.
I was greeted by my mother who didn’t allow me to take off my shoes until she hugged me and said with a Belgian-French accent,
“Nous avons la victoire!”.
By that exclamation without getting too political, until this day I’m still reflecting on her comment.
The Arab world?
Yet, I’m still uncovering the layers of what my parent’s yearning and thoughts as post-colonial immigrants/Canadian citizens as they witness the first African-American president of the United-States. They had told me that just a half an hour ago when it was Wolf Blitzer had first stated his all too familiar “CNN predicts that…’ with an emotionally-embracing “…Sen. Barack Obama to be the next 44th President of the United-States of America”, all three buildings at Willowridge Road had people jump outside their balcony shouting exuberated shouts of joy, and statements like ‘Thank you Jesus’, ‘Subhan-Allah’ and ‘F*** yeah, first Black President’ filtered the air in between the high risers.
The experience left my family united throughout the night like an ending episode of the good old Cosby Show.
Just one month later on another Tuesday, but there was no taxi driving me home. Neither was there an English translation of a Punjabi radio news station. It was simply the regular 1 hour 2 bus drive home after work, waiting no excitement at the front door, and all balconies closed shut from the breeze. Yet at the beginning of this Tuesday, I was led to find police cars all around the same buildings I inhabit, blocking the passage way for the bus to station itself; along with officers signaling directions for arriving residences and cars. It seems like the only people who had better access were the media reporters. I was just hoping it didn’t involve any of the multitudes of youth that populate the Willowridge neighbourhood. Especially any black teens.
To my disappointment, it was. Only one. But one to many.
After making my round of inquiries trying to dodge one of the country’s major television company, I was initially told that a young boy was shot in the head afterwards threw out the balcony down 14 floors to his death. Such are the scenes we enjoy to see on the latest crime movies.
Yet this wasn’t a re-run of CSI.
After getting final reviews of the matter, the factual statement made out by the police was that the adolescent slipped while trying to jump from one balcony to the other attempting to escape what seemed to be the apprehension by the police on the scene after getting a call about a break-in. This is the only time, which I really had hoped that the police and apprehended him, even forcefully. But he was only caught by the hard concrete that awaited him below. Residents at that height of our buildings can catch a view of the CN Tower, but only he could see his surmountable downfall from such high peak.
That early morning Tuesday compressed a feeling of exasperation, deep sorrow and restlessness. It seemed like my sleep was being held hostage. I stayed up until the body left the scene around 3 o’clock that morning. I was wrestling with thoughts all morning, especially since I’ve work at organization that serves the poor which brings a whole different dimension of weight on my psyche, I had to end my night with the clearly disturbing view of a body soaked in cold blood on a freezing Canadian winter night. This time I avoided any news reports on the tube about the fate of a young boy. I primarily desired to be active in listening to the voice of the people in my community. But unlike the annoyingly-ever-knowing newscasters, sometimes the voices of my ‘hood takes more time to express themselves and even trust to whom they speak with whether you’re someone with a badge or a backpack.
As philosopher Cornel West evokes, “there will be a black face in a high place” exerting the rise of President-elect Obama,; it didn’t seem to deter the sorrowful fate and fall of another young black boy. Two drastically different Tuesdays; separated by month, season, feelings, fates and meaning.
But the same ol’ neighbourhood.
And as I overheard an cynical young woman utter in the in the elevator the very next morning, “it’s the same ol’ story…and he deserved it”.
My prayer is that the next time I attempt to take a leap of faith whether t I hope I land where history an be recreated which could uplift and arouse the community with new hope and not the ever-lurking presence of darkness that is all too familiar around these neck of the ‘hoods like outdated scene from Wes Craven. But growing up I never enjoyed watching scary movies, maybe caused by my post-traumatic tendencies that has me watching front stage horror realities all my life; whether it be on the t.v. sets, over their balconies, out their windows or even worse, inside myself.
I make a tribute to the young boy, the Willowridge community with this song by a good friend and musician Shad K. As I weakly creep into another Tuesday, I keep watching.