A LIFE, a spirit … a name / barbara a. arrindell

“Why are they crying, Father? I thought that they would be happy, but they’re not. They are … sad and angry and confused and … and disappointed even. Father, why do they look like that?”

(Sighing) “Well to be truthful, my child, those sombre looks are as a result of you.”

“Me? What do you mean me? What did I do? What could I have done, Father? I haven’t even been born yet!”

“True and based on the way that the discussion is going down there, you may never be born.”

“What do you mean? You told me that I’d be born in seven and a half months. You even said that I’m going to be a boy…even though right now I don’t see any evidence of that.  Father, you promised that I’d have fun swimming at the beach and that even though I would never come first in my class at school, I’d still be a smart person. What about the West Indies Team? I was going to lead them to victory in about twenty five years. You know that they won’t be able to win the World Cup without me. The future of cricket may be in my hands and now you’re telling me that I may never be born. That can’t be, Father. It doesn’t make any sense!”

“Hush, child … don’t fret … this happens more often than you might expect.”

“What happens, Father? I don’t understand.”

“Sit, child!  Let me try to explain. The person who is supposed to be your mother is young and she has other plans for her life. She wants to complete her college education before she has a baby, and her mother will be embarrassed because she’s not yet married.”

“Embarrassed because of me, Father … but why?”

“Those humans on earth have made up all sorts of rules which they call my law. At times they quote these laws to each other, over and over again, and cause people who don’t live by these rules to feel unhappy and even guilty.  They say that I will be upset if they break the laws.”

“So this is all your fault then, Father! I may not be born because you’ll be upset that my mommy and that guy down there who she’s been sending text messages to aren’t married. Is that how it works, Father?”

“Child, I said that they say that I’ll be mad!”

“Will you, Father?”

“That’s a hard question to answer. In the early days I used to give the humans rules to live by because I thought that it would make their lives less confusing. All I ever really wanted was for them to be happy,  but eventually I realized that they had all developed into unique creatures making it difficult for many to understand my original intent. The  ‘laws’ were only meant to give them guidance, instead they confused themselves with their interpretations. They have killed each other in my name … enslaved each other in my name … discriminated against each other in my name so I got a bit fed up one day and told them, STOP! I wanted to start a new relationship with them based on simpler guidelines, so I told them to forget about all of the other rules and concentrate on just two.  Two rules, I said to them. If you can do these two things or at least if you can work towards doing these two things always … I’ll be happy. I’ll be proud of you.”

“So are you saying that there are only two laws?”

“O heavens! You’re not even born yet and already you’re misunderstanding and trying to interpret what I’m saying …  I told them that if they worked towards these things, they would be working towards become more like me.  I said to them, one, don’t forget that I exist! In other words don’t get so full of yourself that you think that you know everything and that you can do everything on your own.   Remember always that there’s something greater than you. The second law is simple. Love!  Love the people around you with the same sort of love that I have for you.”

“That doesn’t sound very hard Father.  In fact if they did that they wouldn’t kill and they wouldn’t steal and they wouldn’t do most of the things that cause them problems and even if they made a mistake the idea that they can love would make them say sorry and move on.”

“Sounds simple doesn’t it, my child?”

“Look, Father, my mommy is crying again. Her mommy just shouted at her.”

“Yes, close your ears child those are not the sort of things that you need to hear.”

“But why is the mommy’s mommy shouting at her? She’s making her sad and for some reason she’s making me sad too and I’m not even born yet!”

“Child, don’t worry … when I called you from playing around the pond you were just a spirit, and I told you that it was time to begin life. That’s where you are right now and that is all that I can do for you.  I gave you a spirit, and a life, but for you to move from here to there, someone down there has to be willing to give you a name.”

“A name?  Why can’t you give me a name, Father? If you want I can give myself a name. The West Indies team needs me … you said so yourself.”

“It doesn’t work that way!  The name is the key. Your name lets you into that world. When a mother starts thinking about a name for her baby, I exhale and know that I have to step aside. When she gives her baby a name she’s claimed its life and its spirit.”

“So what happens if I don’t get a name?”

“You’ll go back around the pond, and when I find another suitable match for you, I’ll call you again and give you life. Then we’ll see what happens after that.”

“Is that really the best that you can do, Father?  I’m ready to be born now.  I’ve been waiting for ages. It feels as though I’ve been waiting for all eternity.”

(Laughing) “Child, don’t worry, if it doesn’t work out this time there will be other opportunities.”

“Wait, Father, the texter man is at her door … he looks a bit scared … but in a way he looks brave … who is he, Father?”

“He is your father.”

“But I thought that you were my father, Father.”

“Yes I am, but he will be your father on earth.”

“So what will happen to you? Will I have two fathers?”

“Child, you’re asking too many questions. Let’s get over one hurdle at a time. If you get a name, in a few years your Sunday school teacher will try to explain where I fit into your life.”

“Sunday school teacher?! What’s that?”

“They are talking again, child, do you wish to listen?”

“Oh yes, sorry, Father.      He said that he would marry her if that’s what she wants, but she’s shaking her head.  Oh come on, Mom, marry him so that I can get a name. Why is she doing this? Oh hang on, he says that he’ll love me even if she doesn’t marry him. Will that be okay with you father? He said love, Father. That’s a good thing isn’t it?”

“As long as he understands the true meaning … then, yes, it is a good thing.”

“What’s a Jeremiah or a Jamilla, Father?”

“What do you mean?”

“Mom just smiled and said that Jeremiah or Jamilla is making her feel ill?

So what’s a Jeremiah, Father …  Father, Father? Where are you going, Father? Father!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”   

A life … a spirit … now a name.

•••

Barbara Arrindell is actively involved with the promotion of both reading and writing in Antigua. She has produced a colourng book Antigua My Antigua in collaboration with artist Edison Liburd and self-published a collection of three short stories The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories.

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