At the small, out-of-the-way diner that Inaya suggested, she and Chandler got to know a lot more about each other over raspberry tea and club sandwiches. She watched pain enter his eyes when he disclosed how his biological mother left him with his father soon after his birth because she wanted no part of either of them. How his father died during a Florida hurricane when he was only four years old. How he ended up in foster care because no one among his father’s Georgia family wanted to take him in. Plus his birth mother was nowhere to be found by that time.
Chandler stayed in foster care until the Edenfields adopted him. Unable to physically have a child of their own, the couple had previously adopted an African-American little boy named Mario and a Black-Hispanic toddler named Christina. With Chandler, their family count rose to five. His open-minded parents, diverse family make up, and equally diverse childhood neighborhood all accounted for his current mannerisms.
“No wonder you don’t have any problems calling black people brothas and sistas. You have a black brother and sister,” Inaya said, understanding him a lot better now.
Chandler chuckled. “Exactamundo! Now tell me more about your family.”
“Well, you already know that I have a younger sister, what her name is, and what that name means.”
“Kali and energetic, I believe.”
“Exactamundo,” Inaya replied, borrowing a word from his vocabulary.
Chandler grinned, but said nothing. That large bite of sandwich he just took had his mouth otherwise occupied.
“My mother, on the other hand, thinks and acts like she’s younger than the both of us,” Inaya continued. She no longer had an appetite for food and thus had given him the remaining half of her sandwich. She craved good company and good conversation more right now. Thankfully, that was exactly what she was getting. “Mama absolutely refuses to get old, though she’s pushing fifty. At forty-seven, she dresses like a hip twenty-one-year-old, talks hip, and listens to nothing but hip-hop and reggae music. By the way, her name is Uzuri, which means beauty. And she is quite beautiful to look at. Everyone loves her deep dimples.”
“She sounds like an interesting character,” Chandler said after swallowing the food in his mouth.
“Trust me, she is all of that and more.” Inaya chuckled, amazed that she felt so comfortable sharing all this with him.
“What about your father? Is he alive? Still in your life?”
“Although I know who my father is, he’s been MIA for years. His choice. So my mother basically raised us alone. If only we got along better.” Sadness swept across her soul, making it gloomy like the night sky outside. She couldn’t help but frown.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I imagine there’s nothing worse than having your birth parents in your life and not being on good terms with them.” Chandler reached across the table and squeezed her hand in comfort.
“Yes. I do the best I can to stay on good terms with my mother, but she is not having it. She’s still holding on to some bad blood from my teenage years. And yet that bad blood doesn’t seem to stop her from trying to treat me like her own personal ATM machine. It’s a good thing that I bake specialty cakes and customized baked goods as a side business. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to help her as much financially and maintain my own lifestyle.”
Chandler’s eyes filled with compassion. “Wow! I’m even sorrier to hear that.” He squeezed her hand again.
“Fortunately, Kali and I are the best of sisters. In fact, she’s my best friend,” Inaya said, trying to look on the bright side of things. She wasn’t looking for sympathy. Nor did she want it. “Even though we live in different cities, we make up for the distance by constantly texting, emailing, and IM’ing each other. We also call frequently and talk for long periods of time.”
“My siblings and I are close as well. But we only use the telephone for quick conversations. We tend to save our longer conversations for face-to-face visits, which are plentiful.” He chuckled. “It’s only Wednesday, but I’ve seen both of my siblings and my parents at least four times already this week, and my brother doesn’t even live in Montrose anymore.”
“Wow! You guys are really close. I both admire and envy that,” Inaya replied truthfully with a smile.
“Keep hanging with me and perhaps you’ll get to participate in our frequent and very animated visitations.” Chandler gave her an intense look.
“Perhaps.” Inaya took a long drink of her chilled tea as the tingles returned with a fresh wave of heat.
© 2014 by Suprina Frazier