Saturday, after a few hours swimming in the sea, I went to the place where I feel most at home and at ease in Jean Rabel, the house of the poor- Kay Pov. I sat with Alex and Tiffany in front of me, surprised to see Tiffany engaging in such a long incognizant conversation with me. Never had she maintained eye contact or a stream of mumbles for so long, mumbles that in her mind must have been quite a tale. I sat delighting in Alex´s notion of time and his way of keeping track of it.
Suddenly a young man, maybe my age, walked up to the patio where we sat. His pants unzipped, his belt hanging from the loops and his toothbrush in his pocket. I observed a bit protectively. He walked straight up to Flavio, Fabian, and Walter´s room. “Bonswa, komon w rele?” I asked waiting to see his manner of responding. The visitor responded with incongruent blabber directed to me, without hostility or sympathy. I asked Alex who he was and if he understood the response. “No, his head turns in circles” he answered referring to the visitor´s mental instability, this coming from Alex, whose head doesn´t necessarily follow a straight line, filled me with tenderness. Alex shared his little knowledge about the young man; he came from Cap-Haitian wanting to stay in Kay Pov, and the older ladies of the church denied him his request. That distracted Alex and he went off on a tangent about how stunning Cap-Haitian is, he had never been, but he had heard of its beauty, I must go visit he insisted.
As Alex went on about Cap-Haitian I saw Flavio walk up to the doorway with his metal bowl in one of his tough hands and his walking stick in the other. The young man practically snatched the bowl from his massive hand with a nod of gratitude, sat down on the floor next to the entrance and started inhaling the rice in it. It had been a while since I had witnessed someone eat so ferociously, because Analise, who gobbles her food, and others in Kay Pov, lack the physical strength and health to eat so rapidly. He looked nowhere as he ate; his eyes were fixed on the metal bowl filled with less rice by the mouthful. When no more rice remained Flavio walked towards him, picked up his now empty bowl and spoon, walked over to the faucet by the cistern, filled the bowl with water and served it to the young man. I paid close attention to see if an exchange of money or goods was to take place, but I waited in vain. The newcomer left as quickly and naturally as he arrived.
“Is he family Flavio?” I questioned.
“No, he´s hungry.”
Flavio responded matter-of-factly, as if giving his only bowl of food received daily to a stranger with more health, strength, and youth than him, but hungry just the same, was the most natural act.
The lessons never cease.