A Space for Women of the World
Zhaabdis loves Jibwens but Jibwens does not love Zhaabdiis. Jibwens loves bingo. It’s just the way the rows upon rows of bingo sheets smell the second they’ve been ripped from the top of the pile by some sausage-fingered volunteer who is probably going to go home and finger his girlfriend before he even washes those filthy hands.
Zhaabdiis loves Jibwens so therefore Zhaabdiis loves bingo. One time he spent three hours outside on the lawn in front of the band office looking for a four-leaf clover to give to Jibwens. After his hands and knees could no longer take it, he resigned to gluing a leaf onto a three-leaf clover just so Jibwens would have something lucky to take with her to bingo.
That very night, Jibwens won the Bonanza and she came home and gave Zhaabdiis a hand job with so much fury and precision. This might be because she had just spent the night with her hand in the same position around a bingo dabber: up and down, up and down through a flurry of numbers, false “BINNNGOOOOO!!!!!” alarms and break-opens. Fierce bingo dabbing is good conditioning for hand jobs it would seem.
Jibwens comes from a long line of bingo dabbing champions. Her living room is full of framed photos and newspapers clippings of women in her family who have won all sorts of prestigious dabbing championships throughout the years. I bet they’re all cha real good at giving hand jobs too.
“1979 Northwestern Ontario Singles Dabbing Champion”
“1982 Woman’s All Around Dabbing Champion”
“1985 Treaty 3 Spotlight Special Dabbing Champs”
“1990 Midnight Madness Relay Team Dabbing Champs”
And so on and so forth.
Zhaabdiis loves Jibwens, but Jibwens does not love Zhaabdiis. Jibwens loves bingo.
Zigs (as they were affectionately known) circled the church basement anxiously waiting for the meeting to start. Their right hand clutched the Styrofoam cup while the left brought a sweaty hand up to their mouth to deposit what was left of a day old sugar cookie. Washing down the crumbs with dank coffee, Zigs heard the meeting called to order:
“Come! Everybody have a seat. Let’s get started, eh?”
After a few rounds of pitiful introductions and the excitement of when a mouse ran right through the centre of their circle, it was finally time for Zigs to fess up.
“Ahawsaa! Zigidiwin ndhznikaaz. Ishpimaa ndoonjiba. Odemin ndoodem. Geyaabi na gegoo? Hrrrmm…” (Ok! My name is Love. I come from that place. Strawberry is my clan. What else? Hrrrmm)
The group let out a collective gasp and then the room fell darkly silent. It was if someone had pulled a Pendleton blanket over the doorway to a bedroom. Out of the darkness of silence, a frail almost speckled voice eked out, “Where have you been all my life?”
It was too late; Zigs had slipped out in the momentary confusion in order to avoid being recognized. I guess you could call them the Littlest Mojo because they were on the road again.
Someone asked me once what my biggest fear in life was: I told them that when I was pregnant with you I was so afraid that I would be unable to love you. I was scared that I would take my inner rage out on you. I was terrified that I would hit you and make you feel small. I was so incredibly petrified that the hands of colonization would muffle your voice as I stifled the “Indian” in you. I was not sure that I could look at you and say gzaagin and really mean it.
There is no love in colonization, only hate, and I wasn’t sure I had ever been taught to love. For nine months I did not worry if you came out with extra toes, or no hearing, or even if you did not look like your father because of that one night with that other guy around the time I got pregnant. I was worried that my heart had been crushed too many times that there was nothing too offer you but decrepit pieces of emotional possibilities.
When you made your journey from my womb, I almost wished that you would stay in there forever so that you could always feel that warmth of your mother. So that you could always feel safe, secure – so that my heartbeat would always sing those songs of our ancestors: the sky and star people. I wanted you to always be nourished (not only by the life cord) but also by the protection that my womb had against the outside world; in me you were protected from me. I wanted you to stay close to the ancestors because they are wise and your mother is weak.
But you would not have it. With your willful determination and perseverance you pushed your way through my tunnels towards this world. I cried when your head breached this earthly realm. At that moment, we stopped – you and I – as though we were taking the time to let you say aho to your new home. In an instant, you escaped from the lodge of my body and emerged into a world where I could no longer protect you. I did not have strawberries or maple water to offer you; in fact I did not have anything to offer you. You see, it was you that offered me every splendor and bounty in this world. The nurses wrapped you up in receiving blankets and when they laid you on my chest, you reminded me of a medicine bundle. You were eight pounds eight ounces of semaa, giishik, wiingash and muskedewask all packed into a beautiful fleshy vessel. When you were eleven years old, the elders and ancestors of Mide named you Wassegejic because your light radiates and with you comes a new dawn. You, Wassegejic, have given me the greatest gift anyone could ever receive: you gave me the ability to love.
Howah so dis one time, eh, we all piled into someone’s Chevy VanDura and hit de road to SkyDome powwow. I can’t even remember whose car dat was, all I remember is it had dis little wee sink that didn’t even work, anawasse. We were ever lucky, eh, dat it was around de time of Baby Bonus because for de drive down we upgraded from a loaf of peanut butter and jam sandwiches to baloney and mustard. Haaahhhnn!
So we get to de powwow and I’d never been der before, eh, and de first ting I see is dis really big frickin’ dreamcatcher hanging from de ceiling in dat place where dey play professional baseball. Howah! I says, how would someone even be able to fit dat in der house? Never mind, my friend says, how are we going to fit dat in de van? Haaaahhhhnnnn.
So anyways, me and my friends were on a snagging mission dat weekend, eh? So we’re all walking around da powwow tryna look real goot, just wearing dose clothes we got from SAAN’s for court dat one time, eh? Dat powwow had lots of snags to choose from hoooooooooooowah! Big snags, little snags … coyote snags. Haaaahnnnnn! So we’re all walking around, eh? And all of a sudden everybody starts pointing wit der lips up towards de hotel rooms dat were in the stadium, eh? Just real laughing and pointing away. So me and my friends look up too and just follow the lips of dis Cree chicken dancer coz his long lips just really pinpointed de location, eh? Den alla sudden – ahnnnnneeeeeeeenuuuuuhhhhhhh – we just see one of our friends poonjing away in one of dose rooms de curtains all wide open and everyting. Couldn’t even put a sheet up in de window or anyting dat one! Howah taahih wiingeh nishnaabeg!
So anawasse, after about one minute de poonjing stopped, eh? Just on beat too wit dat Bear Creek side step special. Haaahhhnnnn! Den everybody der just busts out into applause, eh, just lelele’ing and war whooping and I tink I even heard Randy Wood sing a round dance for dem, eh? Haaaahhhnnnnn. Too bad der was no poonj dance special dey would have won for sure!
So den alla sudden my friend comes down to de stands, eh? Just tryna act like nutting happened; meanwhile de ancestors probably even seen dem on account of dat real huge dreamcatcher. Haaaahhhhnnn! I guess dey were all snaggravated, eh, coz dat person dey were poonjing didn’t want to give der phone number or anyting. So I says to my friend, don’t worry dey’re real chi-naakzid anawasse. Besides, we’ve got de whole weekend to get snagged up.
Geraldine King is Anishinaabekwe from Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (Gull Bay First Nation) located in Northwestern Ontario. Currently, Geraldine is an MA student in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria. Most of her research focusses on Indigenous erotica as decolonial praxis. Geraldine is also the Managing Editor of Intercontinental Cry Magazine, a publication of the World Centre for Indigenous Studies.