Black man 1, Black man 2

By Ray Mwareya

Today is the morning of my first Intercolli Factory Christmas party and sciatica back pain wells up my legs’ nerves and they are like hot iron drilling through my flesh.

“My back…my backache kills me,” I tell Amrik my co-fabrics-cutter who hails from Punjabi, India.

“Tell Boss Lorna. Take a day off,” Amrik shouts, saliva lining his Sikh religion beard as he laughs unrestrained.

Amrik, a secure America Permanent Resident, doesn’t sense how terrifying it is for an African asylum seeker to request a legitimate sick day off from Lorna, a dominant white American woman who doesn’t look French or English or anything.

My sciatica pain today ties in with Ignacio´s fate. Ignacio is the injured fabrics cutter whose job I was hired to fill. Ignacio, his broken shoulder, is the price of a Permanent Residence sponsorship by Intercolli Fabrics Factory – being locked in a $365/week job. I was sobered to learn from the Boston Globe newspaper this morning that the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services vows to deport a young Jamaican gym therapist who abandoned a Texas State Permanent Residence bond to take up a $40, 000/year job in Washington State. “He has himself to blame!” Amrik shouts recklessly, as if he has no heart.

Hearing him and his carefree talk on immigrants, my pain sears further up to my ribs. Amrik sees my struggles and laughs, “Why walk like a lady?”

“Aha, talking of ladies, I befriended an Indian lady in Germany,” I reply wanting to hear his careless opinions.

Amrik parses his lips quickly, and looks at my shoes, skin, and shoulders, “I don’t believe you. Punjabi Indian woman? Black like you?”

“Yes. Indian lady,” I repeat.

“Maybe South Indian Tamil, darker skin, like you African, no no no proper Indian lady,” he says.

“Indian, 20 Euro,” I repeat.

“You paid?” gasps Amrik. The mention of 20 Euros jolted him from his slow walking stride and brought a frown on his face “You can pay too here in Boston. Somali girls, $20 an hour. Your Africa sisters…in underground brothels, and have them.”

“I paid for our first dinner,” I say. “At an Indian restaurant in Berlin.”

“Oh ya ya ya Black Black man,” laughs Amrik relieved that I am talking of paying for a dinner date with an Indian lady at a Berlin restaurant—not a brothel. Of course, he doesn’t believe that I, a Black African, went to dinner with an Indian lady in Germany.

I have been spoken to as “black” five times today so that this Intercolli Factory Christmas party resembles the carwash a couple of yards from my apartment. “Hey Black you want a car wash job?” the thug (carwash owner, actually) assails me on my way home from the Christmas party.

I kick snowflakes from the sidewalk onto his Jeep, “Oh yeah, weekends.”

“Come close,” he says. He fetches his iPhone and lowers the window, “Your name again?”

“Gemy,” I tell him for the second time.

“Great,” he twiddles his iPhone, “OK I save Contact as Blackman 2. Got another Blackman 1 in Contacts.”

It is chilling—how white American carwash owners save our Black names in their iPhones.

Yesterday ́s factory Christmas party was gifted and Amrik’s silliness gave me a chance to garnish leftover cakes and thus contain my weekly bread bill. So, this morning, I jet straight to the tea room to feast on crumbs. Two Indian ladies, Jakor and Rayudu, giggle next to the water heater. Jakor ́s fingers nibble through Rayudu’s armpits. Perhaps she scans for breast tumors. Wise, I think.

I stroll past them. Jakor´s fingers forage faster and she clops out strands of Rayudu´s dying armpit hair with a fabric razor, in the tea room!

I glimpse Rayudu’s moist armpit hair strands now littered on the tea table. I think of my late parents in Zimbabwe and how my eldest sister would pitch home at midnight in 1989. I slept on the floor in their bedroom. I would scream each night my parents furrowed through my sister ́s pubic hair and opened her soft, pink vagina to forage for signs of sperm and test her lies: “You’re seeing him, the headmaster? You shall be the first in our family to die of this disease!”

In boyhood, my parents were harsh with my sister but ignored my homosexual lap dances with Kenny the cattle herder. Each time my penis hugged Kenny ́s, I cried to be his wife. Our tiny penises back then looked like Made in China fuck-sticks. Our act was sweet gay love, stupidly believing life is an accident of physics. Kenny fell to pneumonia and tobacco in Zimbabwe and was buried last week, I heard on Facebook. I am happy to hear of his death because I am selfish. I wait for my loved ones to die first before I write of our sex lives.

1 February, 2023