A scene from ‘Where Are the Money Trees’, a story of my journey through America, to be published this year.
“Yes,” I said. “I want to marry your daughter.”
The room turned silent. No response from Mother. No response from Father. Does it mean it’s OK to marry Phyllis? Or are they in deep thought to figure out how to respond? I waited. After seconds of silence, I heard a high-pitched voice. Her mother’s voice.
“Did I hear you want to marry my daughter? My only daughter?” She screamed. “Are you out of your mind? I have sacrificed all my life to raise her to be a beautiful young woman, and you want to take her away to your backward country?”
“Why don’t you go back home?” She continued to scream. “And leave my daughter alone.”
All through the visit I had felt that her mother’s response would be negative, but I also expected that she would say in a nice way. Instead, she screamed. Screamed telling me to go back to ‘your backward country’. Screamed telling me ‘Leave my daughter alone.’ Who do you think you are, yelling at me like that? My pride was hurt. No one in my twenty seven years of life yelled at me like you. Not my father. Not my teachers. Not my classmates. No. No one… Now how should I respond to her? Ask her how a bitch like her has such a gentle daughter like Phyllis?…No, I don’t want to act like her. I want to be polite but firm. My mind raced for an answer, and out of nowhere, an answer came.
“This country needs me!” I blurted out looking straight at her.
Her thin eyes turned round with a ‘what should I say to this arrogant young man?’ expression. Father sat looking at the ceiling without a word. Phyllis sat next to her mother looking sullen without her usual smile. Then I heard her mother’s voice.
“You have the gall, little young man!” she shouted. “Did you say, ‘this country needs me’? What do you think my country is? A little chicken farm, that needs a boy who can feed the chickens? Ridiculous… Leave my daughter alone. Go back to your country!”