H O W A R D   U N I V E R S I T Y

Faces & Voices 5
An Anthology
of Verse and Prose

the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

E. R. B

Faces & Voices 4


A Progression toward Death: 
Blind to the Signs

By Carla-Marie Ulerie
Major: Business Management
Email: carlamarie1@hotmail.com

        Neglect told the tale of his life to an invisible audience while in one of his delusional states. This was one of the few times he spoke out. After all, he was one of the few who would listen.
        ďI am the product of a moment of lust. I donít know why my mother brought me into this world. I donít resemble anyone. I canít identify. Selfish, my mother, was always too busy for me. Irresponsible, my father, was never around long. He and Selfish were never married. Irresponsibleís wife, Veronica was always kind to me. She looked at me as she looked at her own children, but she still was not my mother.
        When I was a boy Selfish took me and moved in with her mother, Caring. I never wanted to move but I didnít have a choice. Caring tried to be a source of comfort for me and I loved her for it. We had more of a bond than selfish and I. Things worsened after she met Scorn and moved him into the home Caring was trying to build for me. Scorn had a son, Favourite. He moved in as well. They never liked me! They never wanted me here! Why did they have to come here? They made my life harder than it already was. They donít care!
        My work in school was poor. Veronica took an interest but she was too far away to do much. I wished she were my mother. I wanted to live with her but Selfish would never let me. She would rather keep me here. I was suffering and she didnít even notice. I found some comfort in the arms of my girlfriend. She bore me a son. He looks just like me. 
        Securing a job was difficult. I used my skills as best I could; however I didnít always have work. When I wasnít employed Scorn wouldnít let me eat anything in the house. His money had bought it. Caring tried to help but she was too old to be taken seriously. Selfish did nothing. If I starved, I starved. Scorn was more of a priority than I. Thank God for the friends I had who would give me a meal. They could not feed me everyday, but every little bit helped. I would spit on scorn when I got the chance.
        Veronica came to see me one day. Selfish had called her because she found my odor and appearance offensive.Ē (He laughs) ďIf that is what it takes to get her attention I would never have bathed as a boy. The doctors said Iím crazy so why should anything I do matter. Veronica and spoke with me. More importantly, she listened. Selfish never liked her but she knew she would make an impact. ĎThe stone that was rejected!í 
        I cleaned up myself and eventually got a job. Veronica was proud. Selfish was relieved. I didnít need medication. Caring advised me to take it but I didnít. She was getting very old now. She said she would leave her house to me when she died so that I would always have a place to live. I could evict every one else. 
        Time passed but the situation in the house did not improve. Now that I was working they wanted my money. They wanted me to move out. Scorn always had something to tell me. I took it in as I usually did. The time came when I could remain silent no longer. I answered back, we argued. His son could do no wrong, but I was constantly the victim of his ridicule. I spat on him. He called the police to try and have me arrested. I felt like I could kill him. Selfish did nothing. In all my life she never defended me. How unfair! I resented her, as well as Irresponsible.Ē
        Over the next few weeks Neglect gave away many of his personal belongings. He visited his siblings and told one of his sisters he might return soon, but wasnít sure. He asked her if she still had the heart-shaped earring he had given her. She did. He smiled and left. 
        After another confrontation one night, Neglect announced to all but Caring that he was going to kill himself. He couldnít take it anymore. They ignored him. They didnít care. Besides, if he died Selfish would get Caringís house when she passed on. 
        Neglect didnít come downstairs for the rest of the night, nor the next morning. Caring was unaware of what had taken place the night before. She was worried and went to check on him. A frigid corpse greeted Caring. Her hopes were in vain. Her prayers would have to be transferred to the afterlife. No medical officer could help Neglect. His body was devoured by poison. Caring would never be the same. She had watched him grow ľnow she would see him buried.
        The following events were concocted to satisfy mere formalities. The funeral service was held in what probably was the cheapest place in the city. The watery impersonality which inundated the pastorís sermon caused made it flavorless. A drunken atheist could have done a better job. 
Some tears were shed for Neglect Ė some, to please the congregation. At the burial site, the coffin was opened to allow a final viewing of his face. Neglect looked darker than usual, but he cut a peaceful figure. His younger image who appropriately carried his name peer down at him, but said nothing. The coffin was closed at the hurried gesticulations of Selfish. The time for this presentation had ended. 
        Animals buried in backyards had received better sendoffs. They were privileged enough to get ceremonies of a status leagues above their own. How much more did he deserve as a man? Insult was added to injury. I bid him farewell. 

© 2001 Carla-Marie Ulerie

© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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