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 Post subject: TAN CHELA AND HER CATS
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 11:41 am
Posts: 1231
So many of our memories are perhaps of no consequence and of less importance, yet they linger and wait to fill a spot in the “Meaning of Life”. That sounds like a recently graduated persons statement. Anyway, we store these little things (Snippets) and they hover, just waiting for us to understand them. Sometimes it comes rather quickly and we have that “OOHHH that’s what he meant” sort of a look on our faces and other times (mostly when we get a few years under the belt) we come to realizations that are often too late.

“Tan-Chela” was the wife of the brother of my grandfather and she and her husband lived across the street from my grandfather’s house and my grandfather lived in the two story corner house directly next to the new “Que Pasa” location – in fact – that used to be his building before the family sold it to BOONOONOONOOS and then the bank owned it for a while and now Que Pasa resides there. And as fate would have it, “The Bank” specifically Aruba Investment Bank, is the new owner of my grandfathers house. Below the second floor where Tan-Chela had her home was a hardware store that belonged to my grandfather’s brother. His name was “Boo” – I kid you not.

Back to this Snippet

When Tan-Chela walked on her massive veranda (not often by the way) she always looked over at our side and waved a small white handkerchief at no-one in particular. The very thick green lenses in her eye-glasses led me to believe she waved at the building and not at us. When she stopped waving, she would look down at the thousands of yellow and brown tiles on the veranda and continue to shuffle about in a large rectangular pattern. As was the custom, my grandfather also lived on his second floor and had his business down stairs – so, being across the street, we always looked in her direction. She (God forgive me) was never a clear sight. Her tall lanky figure seemed to be continuously ‘out of focus’. Thinking back on it, it might have been due to the dim light on that mass of a veranda – anyway, for me, she was out of focus. Not horribly, just not crisp and clean like the rest of my pre-teen world.

She had cats. Tan-Chela had cats that hung out on the veranda at night and some on the top edge of the fascia of the roof. Tan-Chelas cats often got into fights with other cats in the neighborhood and made horrid noises. One night, a neighbor – who was a banker – came out and threw something at the cats. I think he threw a bottle. In one of those unbelievable strokes of lucky marksmanship, he hit the cat and the poor animal fell from the side of the roof (a full two stories down) to meet with the big LION in feline heaven.

The morning after the “Cat” incident, Boo came down the stairs to go open the hardware and saw this “cat” there. He looked at it and then up at his brothers (my grandfather) balcony and saw – who else – me. I guess that on that day and at that moment, I looked guilty. He walked over and up the stairs and then directly over to me and started to run me through a verbal slaughter. As I was giving every last excuse in the world as to why it wasn’t or couldn’t have been me and giving up my last drop of non-guilty blood, my grandfather revealed himself. He had been listening for a while it seems. He asked what the problem was and his brother “Boo” explained and so did I. That night we sat on the porch and Tan Chela did not come out. My grandfather and I sat there in aluminum lawn chairs with aluminum rocking arches under them and noisily rocked. Then – as if it were a throw a way thing to say, my grandfather turned to me and said:.

“Don’t bathe if you are not dirty.”

It was not until years later when I found myself refusing to defend myself on something that did not need defending, that a glimmer of what he meant filtered in and at that moment I realized that while so many of our events are confusing when they happen and our memories are perhaps of no consequence, they linger and wait to fill a spot. Anyway, we store these little things (Snippets I call them) and they hover, just waiting for us to understand them.

be well
charles

Note:
In Papiamento, when "Tan" is used in a name, it often means "Tanta" which means aunt. This is not always a real Aunt but more the way the work "Uncle" is used for a non-uncle.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:20 am 
thank you for sharing your Grandfather's wisdom with us. How true this is and a wonderful start to my day.


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