NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 26

When the tub was filled and the temperature just right , he lowered himself into the hot sudsy water almost up to his neck while , in the meantime , the old woman placed his clothing on a table next to an ironing board and then came back to the tub and began to scrub his back vigorously with a stiff brush —
A few minutes later , Madam Maloka came into the darkened room and waved the old woman away —
When the two of them were alone , she reached into the bosom of her blouse and pulled out a tiny blue apothecary bottle , which she wore on a chain like a necklace and poured a few drops of the liquid into a cup of tea , which she held to his lips , explaining as she did so that it would calm his nerves and expel the demons from his brain —
Then , as he began to sip the bitter-tasting brew and almost immediately became drowsy , she continued to stand there beside the tub , watching closely as his eyelids became heavier and heavier and finally closed —
Smiling knowingly to herself , she leaned over the tub to make sure he really was asleep and not just pretending —
But the moment she straightened up and turned away , he reached out suddenly and lewdly began to caress her buttocks —
“ It is not me you want ,” she said , smiling coquettishly , while brushing his hand away , “— but your long-dead mother who has come back from the dead and is here in this room with you to see you on your way !”
Then , continuing to watch him closely , she added :
“ A little while ago I told you I was your friend , so now that your mother is here with us and you have no reason to distrust me , I want you to tell me who you are and where you come from , and what is the secret you so unjustly are trying to hide from me —”
The last thing he remembered was Madam Maloka ’ s deep theatrical voice telling him not to be afraid —
But by then , he had fallen into a deep dreamless sleep .
When , many hours later , he regained consciousness and found himself naked in a strange bed , he began shouting hysterically at the top of his voice for the Ethiopian woman to bring him his clothes — that she was a witch and had tricked him and robbed him , and that as soon as he could find a policeman , he was going to have her arrested for having taken advantage of the good graces of an innocent traveler —
At the sound of shouting , the old crone came scurrying into the darkened chamber where apparently she and Madam Maloka had carried him when he passed out in the tub —
“ You are in no position to threaten anyone , me nor anyone else , you ungrateful wretch —!” the old crone shrieked , hitting him on the head with a dust pan , and then scurrying off to the window to violently bang open the shutters “— least of all Madam Maloka , who is a saint and has given you far more than you deserve !”
A few moments later , as sunlight and a strong sea breeze suddenly began to brighten the room , Madam Maloka appeared in the doorway carrying the young violinist ’ s ironed and brushed off outer garments and freshly laundered linen which apparently had been hanging in front of the fireplace to dry , for they were very warm and snugly to his touch .
“ Shame on you —,” Madam Maloka said , feigning great disappointment , “— you had not a soul in the world to trust but me and the ghost of your long-dead mother , what must she be thinking —?”