NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 1 - Winter 2018 - Page 20

memoir The Vaudou Priestess Excerpt from the upcoming memoir By Monique Clesca o Angele Paul. “Celebrating my Mysteries” My older sister Viola and I had moved to her compound on Rue Oswald Durand in January 1961 in Port-au-Prince, after my mother left Haiti to go study in New York. My time in the compound lasted only two and a half years, but even now more than fifty years later, sometimes it only takes a gesture, a sound, a word for me to realize that I have been under her spell since then. For GrandAngele was a singular and luminous personality who was, first and foremost, a Vaudou Priestess to the service of its benevolent values and principles. And I wonder if through her story, surely meant to illuminate several lifetimes because of its origins and her accomplishments, she is not my talisman. I have the feeling that I am continuing a silent dialogue with her and humbly ask: did she pass me the torch? I can place Rue Oswald Durand, named in honor of a famous Haitian musician and composer, almost blindly on any map of Port-au-Prince: it is in the center of town in the Bas-Peu-de-Chose neighborhood, south of Champ-de-Mars Heroes Park. Back then, GrandAngele’s compound was an urban lakou — a traditional African-style rural courtyard with several independent houses, except that this one was located in a city. The capital no less. Huge cascading grapevines covered the mosaic-tiled verandah that extended from the front to the side of the house, doubling its size and giving the lakou an exotic tropical cachet. When in season, an abundance of small chardonnay-type green grapes hung over our heads. The breeze, when it whistled through the vines, made the verandah the coolest place in the compound, providing a sanctuary from the heat. In the afternoon, family members dozed off in rocking chairs. At night, some even slept under the vines during the dry season. Then there was Papa’s house made of concrete blocks and claustras and the pink and yellow-hued brick storefront where GrandAngele ran her small convenience store. When Viola and I moved to the compound, I felt like I had left my country where the hues were stark black and white to travel to another one with bright, vivid colors. Even the language was different. Before that, I mainly spoke French, never raising my voice, as mother had taught us, and only spoke Creole with the maid. In my new home, everyone spoke Creole, not only to each other but also to me. At first, I resisted and held on to what I had — to this small detail — and responded only in French, when addressed. For that, I was ridiculed. After a few weeks, I was left alone and seen as rather taciturn. I gave in and eventually started speaking Creole. My cousin Fritz, a tall, 䰁є)ݥѠ䵍͕Ёѕɸ)ݡɅɕ͵хѕ)qȁMم]ݕȧtѼ)ѕ͔Ѽ͵͔$݅)ͼͅݡ$Ёɥٕ!)ձ䁑ͥѥͽ)ݡͽѽ́ͥ)ȁɥ٥ͥЁٔ)ѡɄхЁɬɥ)Q́єѡЁѡЁ)́́她ɑ́ѡٕɅ)͔eЁٔ) Ёхչ́)ͥɅѥȁѡЁ$݅)Ʌѕհ=䰁ݡ)ٕѡЁ+q]ԁٕɔԁݕɔ)݅́չݥѠͽɽݙհ)Ёѥհݥݕȸ)QЁѥ$ͅаԁ͵t)$݅́Ё啅́)ݡѽݥѠ(啅ȁɅѡ)Ʌ)$ٕѡՔх䁉аȁЁ݅)$ձɥ́ݥѠа)չѥЁͅɕݸѡɽи)QݡєЁѡЁՍ)䁉ѕѠȁѡЁѥ݅)͕ٽɥєQ䁉ɽݸ)Ʌ݅́́ɕ́́ѡ)ՍɥаͥɅٔ)Ѽ䁽̰ͥ)ѡ䁽ȁɕЁɐȁ)͔݅͡ѕѼ͡܁ͽ)Ʉٔ5䁕ѥѡ͔ݕ)݅́ɕ䁍хݡ$)ݕЁѼ͕ȸɝаѡѥи)ɽ͕́х䁍ɽݹ)ݥѠݡєȁͱѱ䁉)͡ձ̰͡ȁ)ݕЁѽѠɽ͕Ѽ͕)ٕ䁽ѕ$ɕձȁЁ)ȁѡѡ́ЁѽѼ)ɕȁ䁍٥ѥ̸)Q́ԁѡɕɥ)ɕЁՍɕ̸%́ѕ)݅́ѡݽɉɕ)ݼɽ͔եЁѡ)ɱ̸%Ёѡѽ՝ͽհ)ѡɽ՝݅ݡɔ䁱ٕ́)ѕ͕ѕѥ́)Qɬɕȁѡ݅)Ё́ѕȁ啅́ɔѡ՝)́ѕͥ丁Q٥ɽ)ݥѠ́͡䁵Ё)́эхɅѕ)ݥѠم͔ɕѥݕ)ѡЁչѥѱ䁅́щ)݅́ѡЁչ͕ѡ)͔єѡѕɕ)٥ͥѽ̸Qፕѥ݅)ݡݼձ́Ѽݡȁ)ͥȁݡѥձɱ䁥х)٥ͥѽȁչݽѡ䁽ѡ)ɵ䁽ѡٕɅɥٕ)$ѕЁݡձ́ݕЁѡɔ)͔䁽ٕݡɥͥ) Ё$݅䁅ɽչѡ$ձ)ѡٕ́ѡѕɥȁ́Ѽ)ٕ͑ɽٕͥ役ѡ͔)̃q䳊t$͔)ѡ䁭܁ѡЁ役ݡ)ѡɽ՝ѡٕ́Ё)́ݡЁ݅́ͥ)Ʌ̸݅́M)ȁ٥͕ݕ̸IЁɽ)ȁٕɅѡɕЁͥ)ѡɽѽɕɽЁѥ͡)եЁѡMхєA卡ɥ)!хɔхѱ䰁)ѥɕ$ͅ܁ȁͥѥ)ȁɅѥȰ)ѡ՝́́ѡ)хɕЁمɥѥ́)ձѤɕ䰁ȁɅ)ѡɅ٥ٕɅ