Monday, May 10, 2010

Bob Marley and Ballet

It’s a typical Saturday: Keith has already taken Molly for her short ballet and music classes; Devyn and I have done music theory homework and practice. Now, we’re on our way to the school again for the other half of the day.

It’s a pleasant, relaxed drive. Bob Marley is playing loudly – Devyn is singing along to her favourite song, Buffalo Soldier.

-- Where does he live?

-- Who?

-- Bob Marley.

-- Well, he’s not alive anymore, but he used to live in Jamaica.

-- Where’s that?

-- It’s a country in the Caribbean, an area like where Granddad and Papa come from, like Barbados and Trinidad. We should go there sometime and learn about the culture.

-- He’s dead? When did he die?

-- Yeh, he died when I was a little girl, around 11.

-- How did you know he died?

-- My mum, Nana, came home from work and told me. She said Jamaica was mourning. There’s a day now to celebrate him, called Bob Marley Day. People want to remember what he did for his country, for music, for people . . .

We’ve parked the car in the rear lot of the school and we’re now walking ahead of Keith and Molly. It’s cold; I hold her closely as we walk.

-- How did he die?

-- Uh, he died of cancer.

-- What kind of cancer was it? Was it in his arm, his leg, his head . . . ?

-- It was in his lungs. He had lung cancer.

I adjust the bag on my shoulder. I see the double doors of the reclaimed Victorian building; I hate these doors. There’s nothing wrong with them but traffic flows both ways and it’s uncontrolled. On top of that, I always have to maneuver a headstrong three-year-old up the side of the stairs that I’m on and keep her from darting up the other side where a quickly opened door would send her flying backwards down the steps. All this and carry all the bags; but, at this moment, Keith has Molly and I don’t think they’re very near us.

As I walk up the steps, I hear the voices of several parents trying to speak to the school’s administrator or trying to prepare them for lessons or trying to get them to listen. Devyn’s voice, at times strong and full of confidence, is so quiet or, at least, it’s lost in the bustle of Saturday-morning craziness.

-- How did Bob Marley get lung cancer?

-- Huh? Oh, he smoked.

-- Smoked? That’s awful. How much did he smoke?

-- He smoked A LOT.

A mother walking past hears us. She looks at me and we both laugh. There’s the sense that she and I are both aware of what I’m not saying, that the legendary Bob Marley smoked pot. Thankfully, I don’t have to have that conversation today!

-- Come on, luv. Let’s go.

She’s walking ahead of me, my hand on the back of her blue leotard. I can see her bun. I watch her bounce confidently down the stairs – she has taken ballet classes here since she was newly three years old. She's almost seven.

I have images of her as a teenager. Maybe she’s tall and wearing jeans with colourful Converse sneakers. Maybe I’ve allowed her to have dreads. Maybe she plays bass in a reggae band. Maybe she knows traditional Jamaican dancing.

-- Mum! Mum!

Ten years might fly by. But she’s calling me. She’s calling me at this moment because she can't wait to get to her ballet class.

-- Come on!

-- OK, go on. I’m right behind you.

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