J. A. KHAWAJA
Whenever I travel back to my original home in the Caribbean I
go and sit by the big salt pond near the beach. It looks calm and
thoughtful like it always did, that is if a salt pond can look that
way. And I think of the cow everyone said walked too far out
into the pond. It drowned slowly trying to get back to the safety
of the shore. The bottom of the pond was quicksand. As a six‐
year-old child I couldn't imagine how something so thoughtful
would do that to a cow. Why doesn't someone get a bulldozer
and pull the cow out of the quicksand I wondered. Whose cow
is it anyway I asked. If it belonged to a white person something
would have been done I'm sure. I said to my mother who spoke
French. She learned it in Quebec. My mother who spoke English.
She learned it in a Canadian school. My mother who spoke
Arabic. She learned it from her mother. My mother the immigrant
whose dutiful silence I had decided made her an accomplice in
the death of a cow. My mother who is a woman.
And so I committed myself to try to imagine where the bulldozer
and crane could have positioned themselves so that they could
rescue the dead cow or any other cow or even person who
might meet the same fate. I went over the circumference of the
salt pond each Sunday that we went to the beach but could not
find a spot or place that would have made its rescue possible.
And even my father who was born there and who likes cows.
My father who could have saved the cow didn't. My father who
speaks English he learned in the Caribbean. My father who
doesn't speak Arabic. My father who is a West Indian Arab. My
father who is a colonizer. My father who paid no mind to the
death of the cow.