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Hummingbirds at Noon

Adolfo Alzuphar: After school I would listen to Liliane Pierre Paul with Lélé, which I would speak to no one about, except to myself.
Hummingbirds at Noon

Liliane Pierre Paul

Lélé came to see me, abruptly, as if thunder on a sunny day. I was sitting on my mother's patio with my grandmother and her visitors. They were here to tell my uncle, the well-known Professor Eddy Arnold Jean, goodbye, to and through my grandmother. She sat in her chair, next to her cane, as others testified, confessed I guess, who her son had been to them. And, suddenly, out of thin air, Lélé.

Lélé had been my chauffeur all throughout elementary, middle, and high school, after Onès. Onès and Lélé have much different things to say about me. To Onès, who now lives in Northern California, I was, and am, the boy forever toting around plastic guns in hand, son of a Haitian Coronel, who told folks at supermarkets that "my father has an uzi and will shoot you" or something of the sort. God! Lélé, on the other hand, knew another me, with a deep interest in politics, thanks to him. Unlike most students, if not all, my parents had established with us that the car was Leles and not ours, even if they owned it. This meant that Lele, and not us, chose the radio station that we listened to. Thus the child tiger became a hummingbird.

After school I would listen to Liliane Pierre Paul with Lélé, which I would speak to no one about, except to myself.

What Papa Doc had once said about Baby Doc, that "the son of a tiger is a tiger" is what my father would often repeat to me, bedrock of an identity, perhaps the one that Ones often jokes about. This father would listen to radio stations such as Radio Metropole, center-right radio stations, unlike the Radio Kiskeya that Lélé would put on and I'd ask a million questions about. After school I would listen to Liliane Pierre Paul with Lélé, which I would speak to no one about, except to myself. Liliane Pierre Paul was tortured and raped under the dictatorship of Baby Doc for subversive activity. Listening to her was growing wings, and learning to fly.

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The last time that I saw Lélé, three years before his sudden appearance, we sat down and both had a beer. This time he stood up and laughed at how old I had gotten. I laughed too. It was around noon, time for some kind of lunch. Lélé did not want any. He was sort of in a money making rush, now a cab driver. Lele has moved to Canaan, a notorious encampment formed after the earthquake with his family whom I'd only met once. I asked him about them and he told me that they were all doing well grace a dieu or thanks to god.

It did not take long for him to tell me what he knew. He told me that the opposition was going to stop the President going to Gonaives, a tradition, to celebrate Haiti's independence on January 1st. That they could because gangs had become sovereign in Haiti and that the midnight hour was approaching for his fall. I said but Lélé it means that we are being held hostage because no side gang, opposition, or President has the country in mind. He said that it's true but this President has to go. Lélé had become a listener of Radio Zenith, an opposition radio station vehemently against President Jovenel Moise. My grandmother chimed in that he should stop listening to Radio Zenith. He laughed. My grandmother, eternally elegant, had joined the conversation in her own way.

Then came Lélé's conclusion, philosophical, almost a parable. Lélé's conclusion was that we are in a vortex, eternally twisting around, we all caught in it, as if waiting for something else. It is the same conclusion that I had and still have reached after having studied Political Science and worked on a multitude of campaigns. That nous mourrons tous as Jacques Roumain, Haiti's great political writer whose novel Gouverneurs de la Rosee was translated into Masters of the Dew by Langston Hughes, once wrote, or that we are all dying. Our dying is in the form of pop songs, newly constructed luxury homes, none addressing critical human issues like those that Haitians face today.

Lélé and I, miles apart, I realized had reached the same conclusion, one that my grandmother nodded to. That this vortex is deadly and that no politics are the solution, for now.


Adolfo Alzuphar