the landlady and i don’t speak to each other.
she’s a plump, pale woman who always wears chunky, black sunglasses, even when the skies are cloudy. her hair is dyed with blonde highlights that accentuate her light brown hair, which is usually wrapped in a messy bun. the wrinkles oaround her mouth make her look like she’s frowning although her other facial features are inexpressive; i know this because that frown doesn’t leave her lips while she smokes. when she smokes, which is quite often, she sits under the white umbrella that is stuck in the middle of her round patio table. she puts her feet on a nearby chair while sitting on another, often staring at her two-story house or scrolling through her smart phone. i see her do this everyday. every other day, i’ve heard her blast old hip hop and r&b songs like 112’s “Peaches and Cream” and Sisqo’s “Thong Song”.
one evening, i was on Facebook. i saw that my older half sister had commented, “That’s not funny, that’s my dad :(” on the landlady’s status. her and i share the same father, so, out of curiosity, i clicked on her comment so that i would also see the post.
now, i had always disliked the landlady. when i was a tween, i heard her making jokes to her girlfriends about my father’s alcoholism, my mother’s inability to speak english well, and our financial struggles that my father had confided in her. it was a typical friday night for her and her friends, sipping vodka with limes, gossiping, howling with laughter. they all sat by the round patio table, under the white umbrella, toasting to their friendship.
i saw her post and my heartbeat sped so rapidly i felt my chest rise up, clogging my throat, clamming up my hands, tightening my mouth and deeply furrowing my eyebrows. on my computer screen was a picture of my drunken father and his large beer belly, without his shirt on, bending over, his reddish face oblivious to the camera. Underneath the picture, she had written a cruel joke, my father being the punchline. No one had commented on the photo yet, except my older half sister, who had commented a few hours ago.
the overwhelming mix of emotions fueled the long Facebook message i wrote to the landlady who was in her late 40s. even if she doesn’t like my family very much, it doesn’t allow her to publicly shame any of us, to mock us, to use us for her entertainment and the public’s. my message was a big Fuck You, except without those exact words because i wanted her to understand the reasons why what she did was wrong.
an hour later, Facebook indicated that she had read my message. she did not reply. she did, however, take down the post.
she has not acknowledged me since then. when i saw her after the incident, i waved. i waved, and still wave because, she is the landlady. i see her everyday, and i didn’t want too much tension between us—but i did figure that there might be some no matter what.
she did nothing but stare back behind those sunglasses, her frown more pronounced than ever. sometimes i still wave, and she still doesn’t.