Four months since I had my prostate operation.
The doctor says I could go back to having a normal life.
From a tree in my backyard, an owl hooted three times.
It was late in the day and the softness of the afternoon
was giving way to the oncoming darkness of night. As the
shadows descended, as if out of nowhere, Oskie asked, How
things going with yo health boy?
a poc, I replied, using the Creole form of the
French expression, peu a peu, which means
little by little.
It was four months since I had my prostate operation and
we had not approached the subject after earlier discussions.
Oskies reluctance to ask about my condition may have
resulted from the demise of my first cousin, 12 years older
than I, from prostate cancer one month after I had my operation.
you have your post-surgery check-up?
two weeks ago.
what de doctor tell yo?
said we had gotten rid of the cancer.
mean two of all yo had cancer?
just using de royal we. Ah mean me.
didnt yo say dat? I ignored that dis.
I ent have no more cancer
I said joyfully.
better, he said. Does it mean you could use
doctor told me that since I have gotten rid of the cancer
I could go back to having a normal life doing all the things
I used to do before de operation.
that mean you could use de ting?
Oskie was insistent. The question seemed more a dare than
a quest for information; more an attempt to deal with his
conflicts than a genuine concern for my health. Ah start
to play stupid.
boy, I ent have no problem urinating. Two weeks after they
took out the catheter I stopped using the pads
(A catheter is a tube that is placed in the bladder to drain
the urine while the surgical connection between the urethra
and the bladder heals. Prostate cancer patients generally
use pads to absorb the uncontrollable escape of urine.)
yo eh had no problem peeing?
problem at all.
glad yo peeing and yo stop dripping but what
ah really asking is if yo have any problems using
mean if ah could have sex?
Knowing black man and his indubitable pride in his sexual
prowess, I could not evade the question any more
mean if I had an erection yet?
Oscar (ah had to call him by his real name now) is only
four months since I had my operation.
de ting still dead?
I felt uncomfortable. I hesitated a moment. Before I could
answer Oskie was on my case again
yo fraid to answer or what!
aint fraid to answer? I retorted a bit
why dont you answer the question, he demanded.
In embarrassment I had to confess. I tried to use
de ting but de boy wasnt up to the task.
mean yo couldnt rise to the occasion.
He had to get raw and vulgar. By this time ah getting more
vex. He wont stop. He continued:
what yo tell de woman?
didnt tell she nothing.
yo mean yo ent tell she nothing?
knew I had an operation so ah sure she understand.
never understand dat.
eh care if you had an operation or not. If you fall down
on the wok, yo out of luck. Theres no excuse.
When ah woman want de ting she just want
de ting. Is nothing you could say to soothe
she demanding soul.
not all woman like dat, came my lame response. Some
stay dey and feel so.
de woman I was with say she understand and dat is all dat
matter. She told me to be patient and things will work out
you believe she?
me tell you something. Yo better keep yoself
to yoself until you can do something because if you
cant put down a proper wok you bring shame to all
de brothers and dishonour all de men and dem.
de only way yo honour men is to be able to use de
ting, I said derisively but perhaps a bit ashamed.
right, he said with an assurance.
I was not ashamed at what Oskie saw as my failure but as
the darkening shadows came over Oskies brow, I wasnt
sure if he saw me as less than a man because I couldnt
use de ting yet or maybe never again. The falling
darkness prevented me from seeing his facial expression
and so I too was left in the dark.
Dat night an owl in one of the trees in the back of my yard
hooted three times. In Creole mythology as in Ceylon (Sri
Lanka) when an owl hoots three times it means that someone
is going to die.
I wondered if Oskie was on to something that I did not know.
n Prof Cudjoes e-mail address
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