Sunday February 16
At breakfast, one of the residents asked If I’d like to go to Mass held at the chapel every Sunday. I considered going, having watched The Two Popes last night. Although somewhat cliched in dialogue and structure, I liked it: the acting, the discussion between the characters, some of the cinematography especially the black and white scenes in Buenos Aires. Mercy and forgiveness played a large part in the film. To whom should I show mercy? And, there was call to help the poor. What can I do? Perhaps the priest’s homily might have held some insight.
However, “the book” or writing here about “the book” won out. I finished at one o’clock barely in time to meet Christiane Makward author of Mayotte Capecia which examines Capecia’s novels, Je Suis Martiniquaise and The White Negresse. Professor Makward took me under her wing last year when I followed Capecia’s life in Paris as a transplanted creole. The plan was to meet at Gare de L’Est (a 3 mile hike), then, walk to Canal Saint Martine for tea with her friend.
Viewed from Place de Petit Pont on my way to Gare de L’Est
I arrived at the stroke of three and we made our way to her friend’s apartment which faces the canal. After introductions, he invited me to look around. As usual, I headed straight for the book case. I sighted a biography of Derek Walcott which he had written.
Serendipitous. A good sign. Here I am trying to piece together my grandmother’s life in Saint Lucia while breaking bread with someone who spent ten years writing Walcott’s biography and visiting that very island. I learned that my great grandfather, Armand de Jorna, may have left Martinique for Saint Lucia as it offered more opportunity. The de Jorna’s had been in Martinique for 150 years before he was born. Maybe he decided it was time to move on. But he ended up being a doctor, so does that scenario fit?
Canal Saint Martine
After sharing an eclair, a tart citron and a tarte de pomme (my lunch and dinner), Christiane and I walked along the canal to her apartment to retrieve Paris Creole, a book she had purchased for me at Musee Branly. It traces the lives of creoles born in the French West Indies and living in Paris from the 17th to the 20th century.
At her suggestion, I walked home using Rue Temple. The street has many charms and with a fine mist falling, Paris was particularly romantic. Malheuresment, by the time I got to Notre Dame, the mist became a downpour. When I took refuge at an oyster bar, the waiters encouraged me to join them under the heat lamps, but I was tired and wanted to get home. Not my best idea. Il pleut, il pleut! My umbrella kept turning inside out: by the time I got to Rue des Irlandais (Irish Cultural Center), I was soaked.
Once dry, I began reading Paris Creole, slowly: it’s in French.
Some “creole” boys, ages 10 and 11, who were sent to France for an education, stayed to become lawyers and doctors, and, then, returned to the islands of their birth. Could this have been Armand de Jorna’s journey? Maybe I can find him in Paris, after all.
A good start, or so I thought until I tried to find the file I had begun on this infamous book of mine. Nowhere to be found. I had written a rough draft of an introduction and hoped to work on it over the next few weeks. But I’m empty handed and, it seems, empty headed. I never attached the file to my email. A Freudian slip of sorts? Verlaine’s poem seems very apropros:
Il pleut dans mon cœur,
Comme, it pleut sur la ville.
It rains in my heart,
like it rains in the city.