Saturday, January 31, 2009

Prompt: Dinnertime

Lamb chops, baked potato and canned peas were one of the remembered meals I grew up on. My mother would sometimes illicit my help with setting the table, but usually she covered things in the kitchen. Dinner was ready shortly after my father arrived from work and had a moment to wash up. He’d have come from the subway and the crowds crossing the main street, the Grand Concourse, before walking into our apartment door. His job was a welder, a boiler-maker, crawling inside large apartment house furnaces at the shop where they were made, before they were shipped off to be installed. We all sat down to dinner in our small Bronx apartment, the four of us, including my younger sister. Dinner conversation centered around our school day at O.L.M. and my father’s workday and his relationship to his Italian boss. They never saw eye-to-eye and it was a source of frustration and derision on my father’s part. Occasionally my mother threw in some comment by her mother-in-law, my grandmother, and feelings would shift around the table. A lot of unspoken words hung in the air. Mostly dinnertime was calm, with feelings of camaraderie. Our small family unit somehow I think, in looking back, was created as a boat sailing in unchartered waters where monsters might make an appearance, like my grandmother’s resentments, or a feeling of isolation that we were a ship unto ourselves. This came from my parents’ joint belief system that life seemed to reinforce over and over through the years. For me, it was just dinnertime and if waves crashed up against the hull of the ship I was on, I noticed it and kept eating the canned peas! Jyoti

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