She wants her way

February 11, 2012


Every so often a new stereotype appears on the culture beside the Jewish Mother, the French Waiter, the English Bobby. One I have noticed in the last decade or so is the young Indian daughter. She is very bold. Cant. Almost like the old tom-boy. Except that she is very feminine. And smart. And sharp tongued. And she wants her way.  Like all stereotypes this does not fit all young Indian girls. In some ways she represents all new young woman with their strong relationships to fathers.  I wrote this story with her in mind. It is part of the third book called The Graveyard Shift in the series called OPEN 24hrs. The first novel of the three Day Shift can be download here Day Shift

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THE THAT DAUGHTER

 

Its that. I can’t stand it. My father is all. Business. I cannot stand it. What is it. Money. Given up for time. For my father, always it is money. At dinner he counts the mouthfuls. How much must he take in. Minimum. To work all day. He belches with glee. The only time he is happy. I squirm. He asks me. He laughs.

“What’s the matter, my only daughter?”

“That,” I reply.

Look at his plate. The cost of a sad potato. Bought on discount. Ready to turn into mud. And the vegetables. Carrots soft before they dive into the soup. And the meat. More gristle. More salt. From the local butcher. In our neighbourhood there are no cats. There must be other ways to cut corners. Cannibalism comes to mind.

Father has mother bill him for the meal. Everything goes in the book. It’s like eating in a restaurant. Without the tip. And of course father compares our prices to those at the Canadiana Restaurant. Looking at the savings seems to help father’s digestion.

Our father will not eat Indian food. He says that we must become more Canadian. He says that we smell. Like what we eat. And we must smell Canadian. But my mother cannot cook spaghetti. Or stuffed heart. The thought of eating a heart makes my mother faint. Or Irish stew. What is Irish stew anyway? I have an image of a bunch of tiny leprechauns boiling in a big pot.

“And father makes us listen to the Beatles. My mother tries. She sings along with the song, With a little help from my friends. But she cannot get it right. She doesn’t understand the song. Why is it friends? She asks. Why isn’t it, family? And father makes us watch ice hockey. Field hockey, I can understand. I made the school team but father would not come out and watch us play. We are Canadians, he said. F*** the field. Play on ice.

Well, he didn’t say the ‘f’ word. But he wanted to. It’s Canadian. Mother gets very upset when she hears father curse. He said we had to learn. To speak Canadian. They use the ‘f’ word in every other sentence. My mother tried to use it. One time she used it. At the small Indian grocery store she likes to shop in. The manager got very upset with her.

“You must leave,” he said.

Mother told him to go ‘f himself.

She told my father. He got angry with her.

“Why do you use that language around our people?” he said. “You want to ruin my business!”

You cannot win with my father. It’s that. Which bothers me. But more.

My father forces me to work. For him. At slave wages. Under intolerable circumstances.

Paul told me to call the Ministry of Labour. Paul works next door in the pharmacy. A sweet boy. He will be my lover one day. He comes over to talk to me. When father is not around. We mess around with my hair. He likes to stick his tongue in my ear. Paul is my own little Q Tip.

Father has taken to meeting some friends. Canadian friends. Or so he brags to us. Over dinner. At the Canadian Restaurant. He meets them. Which he does not tell mother. Mother thinks that the friends are customers. In the shop. I do not tell my mother. It offends me not to tell her. And its that. I can smell the beer off father. When he returns. Sometimes he drinks so much that he takes a nap. On one of the sofas in the back of the store. When Paul visits he ask me.

“Does your father hit you?”

“Of course, he does not. Father is pathetic, but he is not a monster.”

Sometimes Paul and I fool around. Nothing serious. Kissing mostly. And feeling each others. Ups and downs. Outside our clothes. Never under. Paul says that he wants to see me naked. He has never seen naked brown skin. I don’t know how he dares to talk like that. But I like it. Sort of. I tell him that that is definitely not going to happen. This month. The word ‘that’ has replaced using the word ‘sex’ between Paul and I. I don’t know what I would do if father walked in. On us as we were fooling around. He’d probably be pissed that I wasn’t at the cash register. In case someone came in. Who buys couches in the middle of the day? In the middle of the week?

When Paul asks me questions, he writes everything I say down in a book. Another book. Like my father’s book. I asked him what he was doing. He said he likes to record other people’s thoughts. But those were not my thoughts, I tell him. I have one thought. And that’s that.

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