The following is an excerpt from Elsie Augustave’s novel, “The Roving Tree” a novel about the cross-cultural adoption of Iris, a five year old Haitian girl. ELSIE AUGUSTAVE, a native of Haiti, graduated from Middlebury College and Howard University with degrees in foreign language and literature. Aside from her academic achievements, she trained as a dancer and performed at various community theaters prior to choreographing Elima Ngando, a major production for the prestigious National Dance Theater of Zaire. Novelists Edwidge Danticat and Lorna Goodison referred to her work as a milestone and to the author as an important literary voice worth listening to. “The Roving Tree” is Augustave’s debut novel. http://elsieaugustave.com.
After what seemed like a very long ride, John pulled into the garage of a redbrick house with brown-trimmed Tudor windows. I admired the slender drooping branches of a tree and the cut grass that was so unlike the wild weeds behind our mud-plastered house in Monn Nèg.
“This is your new home. We live in Westchester, New York,” he said.
Holding my hand, Margaret showed me around the house. Going from room to room, I wondered why there was so much space for only three people. In the kitchen, I inhaled an aroma that reminded me of the tea my great-grandmother used to make with cinnamon sticks and brown sugar.
At this point, I don’t remember every detail of the house when I first saw it, but later this is the way I came to know it. Built on a slope, the main entrance opened onto a foyer that divided the lower and upper levels. The spacious kitchen had a center island and a breakfast nook that led to an outside deck. Adjacent to the kitchen was a large formal dining room, living room, and a guest bathroom. The master bedroom suite was upstairs along with two other rooms: one was Margaret’s study, the other was John’s. A family room, three bedrooms, and two full baths were on the lower level.
A world of magic opened to me. Everything seemed so vast, open, and clean. There were no clothes hanging from lines outside, no pots and pans and calabash bowls stashed inside wicker baskets. I had to get used to a kitchen with appliances and food that I never knew existed. The days I spent in the Port-au-Prince hotel hardly prepared me for this new life.
About a month later, when the novelty of it all wore off, I began to think about my family in Monn Nèg and missed the aroma of smoke from my great-grandmother’s pipe. I missed the warmth of my mother’s dark, watery eyes, the sounds of my cousins’ laughter, and the taste of mangos that had fallen from the trees. This left me with a yearning for a familiar world. Sobs often rocked me to sleep when there were no tears left. One night, holding my doll, my sobs became so violent that I woke up Cynthia, who ran out of our room to get John and Margaret.
“What’s the matter?” Margaret asked, as she turned on the light.
“I want my mother!”
Margaret sat me on her lap and said with fondness in her voice, “I’m also your mom. John is your dad, and Cynthia is your sister.”