He hibernated in our home, sleeping till noon and waking up groggy and strange. He never spoke until he brushed his teeth, so he’d murmur and mutter, shake and nod, until he did. Why he waited for precisely an hour, I don’t know. But then everyone stopped trying to figure out Uncle Solomon a long time ago. I think grandma birthed him on top of the coconut tree, and baby Uncle Solomon just slid off.
His role in my growing up years: “Lifepolice.” I don’t why my parents gave him such authority. As per the Lifepolice, many things were forbidden–comic books, dancing, silly jokes, secular music and meat. He said there were invisible, 12-tentacled mini monsters buried in every bite of chicken that multiplied in your stomach and choked your intestines into strands of rubber band.
One day he told me to never stop until I found my thing. So I set out to find it. And whenever I found something and asked if it were it, he’d say “Maybe.” One day I reached my limit–Pigtails flying, I stomped into his dark room (He never turned on lights) and yelled so loud my throat was sore for six days. “I am not going to look for the thing anymore. You’re weird and I don’t need to listen to you.”
The pillow that always lay over his face slowly came up. He said “Sit down.” Down went the pillow. Mom and Dad were not home. It was just me and weird Uncle Solomon. He was going to kill me, chop my body into tiny pieces and fertilize the haunted Neem tree by the front gate!
I waited for what seemed like 16 hours. In silence. In darkness. In fear. Then he spoke into the pillow: “What things did you find while looking for your thing?” I thought hard. “I found out there are 42 different types of beetle, that Wesley is my best friend even when I don’t like him, that I am as good as a boy, that I can make words dance on a page, that there isn’t enough time in a day, that Daddy loves me so much it makes him cry.”
The pillow went up again and wise Uncle Solomon said: “The best part is all the other things you find along the way. Keep looking and you’ll find yourself.”