Topanga and Ameen- Broken Truths
My mother was trembling in eighty degree weather, her frail skin looked like worn leather, small sores on her skin, and her neck look swollen. I slide on the gloves, pour the peroxide to clean the wounds. She winches and moans. My mother is dying of A.I.D.S, her hands are cold, the pink of her nails are white, and God is calling her home. Her hair is matted to her hair because she said it hurts when brush or comb it. She attempted to reach for the crack pipe and I push it from her. I’ve missed a week of school, and this semester is a definite fail. I spoke with my counselor who keeps advising me to chose myself. How do you choose you when your parents are dying and the burden rests on your shoulders? College can wait but my parents don’t have forever.
Sugah a beautiful woman with long hair, and a body like Beyonce. Hard working and just a woman who loved her man. She isn’t but ninety-six pounds now and bed-ridden. I don’t know what’s killing her faster the disease or her hatred of my father.
“Can I get you anything, Mama?”
She pulled the covers to her body, and leaned her head back.
“Let me just die, child. I can’t live like this no longer. All I did was be a good wife to your father and he infected me with his disease. I’m so tired of hurting in my heart. I can’t take the hurt anymore.”
“Mommy, I can’t let you just die.”
“I’m begging you to so you can live. You too young to care for me and your father. I see it in your eyes, child we wearing you out. Call the ambulance and let me die it is my request.”
I sat on the edge of her bed and folded my hands while saying a prayer. My mother did nothing to my father. Faithful, hard working as a housekeeper at the Marriot hotel for twenty-years. My father ran the streets, slept with every people woman in Brooklyn and indulged in every drug know to men. My mother moaned, and uttered,
“I have to go to the bathroom and shit again. Help me I can’t get up.”
I removed the layers of the covers, her legs look like one of the children from Africa, knee bulging, fragile as if one step and it could break. She wobbled and leaned against me as she attempted to put one foot in front of the other. Slow steps and I can hear her stomach growl. She cut her eye at my father who hid in the living room and smoked a cigarette. My mother stopped, and though her voice cracked it had power.
“You sitting in there hiding like it ain’t your fault. I need you to see what you did to me, bastard. I want you to look at me while I’m dying. You fucking coward. I hope I have the pleasure of watching you roast like the pig you are in hell.” She yelled.
My father slammed the bottle on the table, stood up and grabbed his hat. He was sick too, his arms covered in Kaposi lesions. A man once handsome had his skin hanging, his eyes sunken end, and every time he went to the bathroom he screamed because of the lesions in his butt.
My family was in physical pain but I was emotionally and spiritually depleted. Every bit of my heart was ripping into pieces.No child wants to watched their parents suffer. At twenty years old I was preparing for my parent’s death instead of my graduation. I always wondered what normal would be like and why in the hell life had to be so hard.
My mother moves her bowels and it runs down her legs.
“Call the ambulance and don’t clean me up. I don’t want you catching my sickness. Put me in a hospital and let me die there. Let me die,please.”
I called the ambulance went into the bathroom, filled a bucket with warm water. I bathed and changed her soiled clothes. I found a house coat and placed it on her.Tears ran down my face as I clean up the poop, and my cell rings. Ameen name popped up and I answer,
“I can’t talk right now my mother has to go to the hospital.”
“I’m sorry about your parents, Topanga. Yo, you need something?”
“You can’t give it to me what I need but thanks for asking.”
“Ask me and I’ll try to give it to you.”
“Don’t worry about me. Are you safe, Ameen?”
“Yes, laying low and elevating my mind. I read the book from Eric Thomas, thank you. “
“No sweat. The envelope is put away and safe.”
“I have no worries when it comes to you. I trust you with my life.”
Every emotion came out of me as I watched my mother struggling to sit up and couldn’t. She was only forty three years old, and she was dying.
“Ameen, I have to go.”
“Talk to me and tell me what is in your heart.”
“I wish I could put my life into someone’s hand and feel safe. I am so alone and my parents are dying in front of my face. I’m going to fail school and it is my last year because I have to take care of them they need me. I can’t buy books because I have to pay their debts from all the crack they buy. I come home and wipe up shit, and listen to my mother beg me to let her die. I don’t want to worry no more I’ll come home and see my mother and father dead. I am so lonely it sickens me no one likes me because they think I have the virus. I don’t know anymore.”
“I want you. I told you in kindergarten that as long as I have air in my lungs I would be by your side. You need me, T and I’m coming.”
“The Feds, the shit with…” He cut her off.
“Here me good and listen. I love you and I’m coming because your not dealing with it your parents being sick alone.”
“Your not my man. You can’t keep protecting me and all the mean stuff I say. Why do you keep coming to save me?”
The loud thump on the door, the sound of the sirens, and her father’s key in the door. She wiped the corner of her eyes with her thumb and sighed.
“Ameen Leviticus loves him some Topanga Janeen. I’m your friend first and in your heart you know we will be together. I’ll meet you at Kings County Hospital.”
I wanted to tell Ameen I loved him because he was all I had. He was what I needed in my life but he is Tonya’s man. I was scared because what I love I lose. The three white men came and I gave them the details, her medications list and her diagnosis. The paramedics followed dressed in full yellow gowns, mask, gloves, and my mother frail body was placed on the stretcher. My father stood in the corner, his eyes were blood shot red, and he hung his head low.
My mother remove the mask and said, “Live your life, daughter and get your degree. Get out of the jungle of Brooklyn. I don’t want you end up like me and your trifling ass father. Let me die alone.”
“I want to come, mommy. Please.”
My father finally spoke, “let her be.”
“You cold hearted bastard. Don’t tell me to let my mother be.”
“Topanga, it is time to take your life back. You took care of mommy and daddy when it should have been the other way around. You can’t save us because in the process your drowning, baby. We are not fair, cut us loose.”
“Your asking me to cut you loose and how the hell do you cut loose your parents, huh? What about me, Daddy and the fact I fought so ACS wouldn’t put me in the system. I fought so I could have ya’ll in my life. I…I…can’t cut ya’ll loose because you are all I have.”
“It is not true and I am here.” Ameen announced.
He stood in the doorway, and I turned away from him. Ameen always saw me at my weakest. Another broken girl on the IRT. My father walked out and I turned around and called his name.
“Daddy, stay for once face the fucking music, face your sins, stay for me and mommy. You owe us.”
He closed the door behind him. My father was on a mission for another hit of the crack pipe. He smoked away his problems and . Every one opened their doors staring at the black girl lost. Ameen took several steps and just held me tight. I don’t want to need him, to love him or want him. He is dangerous, and I know his fate dead or in jail. The tears fell like Niagara falls on his shoulders. The neighbors looked on and the high pitched voice interrupted our moment.
“I knew you’d be here all hugged on her.” Tonya stood with her arm folded with two other women.
“She needed me don’t go starting no shit over nothing.”
I looked him over up and down. It wasn’t the words he uttered ten minutes ago or on the phone.
“What I’m suppose to think. You come see her before your girl and I am not suppose to be mad?”
“You are suppose to…never mind. I’m taking her to the hospital to see her Moms and we will talk later.”
“You don’t have to, Ameen. Thanks but I’m good Tonya needs you.”
“Ameen, please be safe and take care.”
Tonya rolled her eyes at me, and I knew everything Ameen said was just talk. I was out here alone and I get it. I can’t leave my parents alone because I would stop living. I would stop understanding my way for being their savior. I know I may not be doing a good job but I am there every step of the way.