Coffee and tea

by tamarjacobson


[Thanks to JB for the quote]

California Nov 2010 033

I confess. I do love receiving my first morning coffee in bed. I think gratefully of Mira back at the conference last week, who not only went downstairs to the lobby to bring me my first cup of coffee for the morning, but also – then – took a photograph of me in bed with it. Now, that's what I call friendship!

When I was young growing up in Africa, I was served a cup of piping hot sweet tea in bed before getting ready for school every single day. What a privileged, spoiled child I was! Curled up in a ball, fast asleep, I would suddenly feel a poke on my arm to wake me up. Opening my eyes I saw our servant woman quietly and carefully placing the tea next to my bed. "Good morning, madam," she would say softly. Did I even reply? I cannot remember. More like grunted some kind of greeting, I imagine. It would be years – decades later, that I realized she would have to wake up very early every morning so that she could prepare our tea in time (Confronting Our Discomfort, 2003 page 10). Always at our beck and call, receiving a pittance of a salary, she had left her own children behind in some rural area to find work in town. It is no wonder I refuse to hire anyone to clean my house nowadays. For how could I ever make it up to all those servant women slaving away early in the morning, sacrificing their own children, so they could provide us white folks with our early morning cup of tea each day? The mind boggles. 

There is shame in being white and privileged on the backs of others with no choice. It is something I never want to forget. Today, I give thanks for all those wonderful black African women who took care of me so warmly, graciously, and kindly.

Photo 14

I walk over to my little coffee pot gurgling and brewing in the corner of my study. A new day has begun. Heating has not quite reached the third floor of the house yet, so I don a long woolen cardigan that my son gave me for Christmas many years ago. I wear it as if I enfold myself with him. The cardigan warms the dull ache of longing, for I miss him so much these days. Wrapped warmly around my neck and atop my head is the scarf and hat my sister Sue knitted for me this year. She took care to use my favorite colors: green, brown and yellow. I pour myself a cup of coffee, and warming my hands on it return to my desk to gaze into the computer screen.