Almost two years ago, I fell in love with a man who had a fierce adoration for his country.
He grew up on a little island in the Caribbeans, he told me his childhood was characterized by the richness of his culture, the eerie spiritual presence of his ancestors and the underlying instability of his nation. He told me how life was, in Haiti, over ten years ago; the streets were clean, although there was poverty, famine wasn't a commonality. Haiti was under dictatorship, first under Papa Doc's rule then under Bebe Doc's, his son.
My lover told me how, more often than not, the electricity went out; the power outage could last for hours and was as spontaneous as the weather.
He looked back fondly on these times, he said it brought the family closer. I could only imagine these dark nights; the laughter, the candle lit rooms with the shadows casted on the walls with the whole family gathered together.
I remember this; One night, I was by his apartment, I was lying on the sofa and he was stroking my hair. His mind strolled down memory lane as he told me, his eyes dreamy and his lips slightly curved in a smile, about Fete Ghede (the day of the dead) when millions took it to the streets, danced and fed spicy meat to the spirits.
My lover's father was a journalist, when the dictatorship was overthrown, his family lost most of what they owned. His brother and him were sent to live with relatives in New York.
His teenage years were spent there, this is where he picked up the New York swag; that same thing that made me fall for him. Then he migrated to Canada, we met in college. We lost track of each other over the years.
A couple days after I left a 2.5 year relationship, I got a message from him. We were both single, and we agreed to meet and have breakfast. What happened next was a torrid love affair that left me drained, hurt and half out of my mind. He is the reason I started blogging; this little spot was my way of getting my feelings down, creating a dialogue that would allow me to heal and grasp the purpose of love, relationships and life.
Loving a Haitian man put me in direct contact with his culture. He introduced me to his friends and family; many nights were spent at Haitian BBQ's, listening to Zouk and Kompa, For many months, not a day passed without being surrounded by Creole or some anecdote about life in Haiti or his dream; having a thriving business in his home land. Our song was Carimi's "Banm Pemisyon". Haiti was such a huge part of who he was, that when we broke up, I dissociated myself from most things Haitian. Never again, I told myself, would I love a Haitian man. In the wake of the current situation in Haiti, I regret all the negative thoughts and associations I have nurtured towards this island and its people. I feel such a longing to help, in any way that I can; today, I've sent out e-mails and texts about different ways to donate money, clothes and non-perishable food, also, I've researched organizations that may be searching for on-site volunteers. I asked my supervisor to send a mass e-mail to the company's employees for the dropping point of clothing/food donations, only to learn that my employer (a cellphone company) has already donated 250 000! They opened up a texting line that allows our customers to donate (in one day, 18 000$ was amassed). Also, some of the competing communication companies have joined the efforts to help out Haiti by offering free long distance to Haiti.
In two days, Canadians have already donated 3 million dollars out of their own pockets, and Barack Obama has set a relief fund for Haiti totalling 100 million dollars. It's beautiful, I am over joyed to see how entire nations are mobilizing to help rebuild and heal Haiti.
I have this absolute urge to put everything on hold, and go to Haiti and search through the rumbles, and offer my help in any way that I can. It frustrates me that I don't have a technical skill that would allow me to be fruitful; I'm not a nurse, an engineer nor a constructor.
I guess that by loving my ex, I have developed an intense affection for his country as well.
He used to tell me, 'Ou pa konnen ki jan la vi ou ka bel', it was a line from ''Banm Pemisyon". It means You don't know how life could be beautiful.
That line seems so appropriate today; I hope that Haiti is rebuilt from the ground up, better and stronger than before. Perhaps, the earthquake is really the start of something beautiful.