And Tayo From CeremoLetters
I have decided to write letters of correspondence between Tayo and Denver. These letters will entail the relationships they have with their family lives and other aspects of the characters. There is of course the problem of timelines and that these two characters are apart in their setting about a hundred or so years. Not to mention that Tayo is half white and half American Indian and Denver is an African American whose mother was a slave.
You don’t know who I am, but I got your address from a friend of mine. He tells me that you have a difficult relationship with your parents as well. I have never met my father and my mother died when I was very young. I know this is a very hard topic to talk about, but as I hear, you have a very difficult family life as well. You don’t have to write me back, but I think that people like you and I should stick together and maybe help one another out.
I have been through a lot lately, and I don’t really know where to go. I am an American Indian and I have been seeking the help of wise men for a very long time trying to find a cure. You see, after my adopted brother died, I have been very sick. I don’t know if you are also facing the same bodily ailments, but I truly hope you are coping better with your situation.
Tell me about your family life. Do you have a father? What exactly is bothering you so much that you told my friend about it? What are their backgrounds and what do you have a problem with? Do you also have medicine men in your village that cure people with herbs when they get sick? I have been on this one herb for a while now, but I still keep throwing up when I remember my brother dieing. I lay in bed most of the time, and when I feel well enough to stand, I can only walk around the house. I feel as thought my adopted mother hates me because I am half white and my grandmother is the only one who really makes me feel halfway decent when I want to kill myself. Do you have any siblings that make you feel better when you’re down or anyone who you can talk to about your problems? Before I got sick, I used to drink my troubles away. I found that this is a really good way of getting lost in a drunken haze, but is it all really worth it. I am hoping that I can get a response from you. Well, write me back when you get a chance.
It was very nice seeing the postman come around by my house again. The problem facing me is a bit graver that the one you have at home, and I guess that it’s a good thing you wrote me. Now I can finally spill my soul on paper and let someone know how I truly feel.
A long time ago, back when I was still a baby, three men came to my house in a carriage looking for slaves. I live in the south and it is common that free slaves help hide the ones that are running away from their masters. My mother was afraid that the men were coming after her and she was afraid that they would separate her family once again as is common in slave families. We were in a barn when they came, and in order for my baby sister not to have to go what my mother went through, she slammed her against the side of the shed killing her. I don’t know why I was left to live, but I think that it was because my grandma, Baby Suggs, talked some sense into my mother. She hasn’t been the same since. My mother was so stunned from the experience and afraid that her future would never be the same again, that when I started crying, she went to breastfed me, even though her chest was covered with the blood of my own sister. I guess you could say that my sister and I are now bound by blood. All this I am telling you is from the recollections of my grandmother. None is my own.
I’m quite sorry to hear that you have had such a harsh past. I can’t say that the same has exactly happened in my family, but the person I took for a brother, Rocky, died in a battle and I haven’t been the same since. Why would your mother ever do a thing like kill your sister? I would think that if she loved her very much, she wouldn’t kill her.
What do you do every day to keep your mind off the past and the possibly future? I have lots to do every day. You see, I live on a farm. Even though we are having a drought, there is lots of work to be done. The cattle tend to run off a lot and we have to find them. All the guys from the battle go to the bar a lot and drown themselves in alcohol. Emo and I get into conflicts all the time. He hates me because I’m half Mexican and half white. I hate my mother for being so irresponsible with her body. Maybe she just wanted to be accepted for what she was. Maybe it was the beginning of a new future. People are now forgetting about what happened long ago with my birth, but the elders make it a point of making me know about my past, even when I have long ago forgotten about it.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in such a traumatic situation with someone and then loose them. I sympathize with your loss and hope that one day you will be able to go on with a normal life and put the past behind you. I have a very boring life compared to yours. I know what you are saying about keeping oneself busy. It sure helps having something to do in order to help forget events of the past. My whole community has shunned me. Since my mother cannot find that someone special, she has been with this one guy by the name of Paul D. for a while now. He was on the same slave farm as she was when she was little. What I heard from Baby Suggs is that they all wanted her in that sexual sort of way. I wish someone wanted me. All I have in my life is a ghost who plays with me. I know it sounds somewhat odd and maybe even delirious that I have a ghost for a playmate, but I do feel that she is my sister who was killed when we were very young. I don’t tell my mom about it, because she will think I’m insane. Who else do I have?
Oops. I left this letter out and I haven’t finished it. A few weeks have gone by and I seem to have forgotten. Paul D. made the ghost go away because she was bothering my mom. Paul D. was getting somewhat tired of her too. That same week, this girl was lying half dead by the tree close to our house. We didn’t know who she was, or where she came from, but she seemed almost dead, so we took her in so that we could get her better. She’s a black girl just like me, and she’s dressed very elegantly. I can’t imagine where she could be from. She said that she couldn’t remember her name, so my mom started calling her beloved. Also, ever since she came around, my mother has been treating her with so much love and care and totally ignoring me. I want a playmate; someone to share my feelings with and call my own. Mother gives her everything. If the hen lays only two eggs in the morning, she gets them both, and I feel as though I don’t exist. This has to be the worst part of my life. Maybe she’ll just die or someone will come and claim her.
You took a really long time to write back. There have been a lot of changes in my life since you last wrote. I have found this modern medicine man who lives outside the city. His name is Betonie. He has agreed to help me if I listen to his view on life. Through his words I have begun to see my past in a different light and at times, he has scared me. He thinks as I do and not like the elders in our village. His knowledge of the world amazes even me, but his lack of participation in it makes me think why he still wants to live. He is also half American Indian and half white, so I think he feels what I am going through. The pains of not knowing his parents and being shunned from both worlds makes me feel as though he knows what I am going through and can help me with the same problem.
On another good note, I have found someone to take care of me who I feel very close to. She is American Indian, as I am, and I can’t really explain how I feel around her. She makes me feel as though I am flying and when I was with her, I looked up at the sky, and I saw something that made me very happy. Betonie drew a constellation in the sky when I was with him once, and he told me that when this constellation appeared in the sky, I would be almost one with myself and in balance with nature. I knew then and there that this was the person I was supposed to be with. Well, my love is calling me. I truly hope that we keep in touch and that you will soon be at your happy place. Be at peace with yourself and just truly be free. I am glad that I met you and that you are taking care of yourself. Write me, ok?