Friday, June 19, 2009
Me with V Kali
V Kali is one of my favorite poets, not to mention one of my favorite people. I met her at The World Stage in Leimert Park in Los Angeles in ummm?? Ummm?? I guess 94? Wow. I've loved her since that night. Her voice is soft and commanding you to stop what you doin' and pay attention. And then there are those words, that. Make. You. Listen. And don't make me talk about her cookin'. This vegan chef can turn tofu into the best catfish sandwich you never ate.
Brothas and sistas this woman is the balm.
J* What is your most memorable experience?
V* Zuri's passing.
J* If you can choose, where will you go after this lifetime?
J* What is your passion?
V* Caring for people. Writing. Talking. Communication is my passion.
J* What did you come to this planet to do?
V* Transform it. I guess that would make me a transformer.
J* Are you doing it?
V* I am.
J* What will most people say about you?
V* I was always late, but it was always on time. I could cook my ass off. I fed people in ways that most people are not fed. I told the truth on most people, even myself. I loved my friends as family. I loved me some mens! People who knew me when I was younger would say that I wanted to be taller. Then I found out that I already was. I love good music. All music is good. The bad stuff is just noise.
J* What will most people say about you that they would be wrong about?
V* Um? Um? That I know so much. I don't know so much. I just know what I know. It's not a perfect thing, but people have me on a pedestal like I can do no wrong and boy are they wrong about that. That I would never eat anything fried. Wrong, wrong, wrong. That I wouldn't wear a mini skirt. That I would never cut my locks. That I would never be with a white boy. I'm into goodness nowadays. Not just the package. Course these white boys come in some nice packages.
J* What do you lie about?
V* My fears. My vulnerability. About certain pains. Ummm? The conditions I find myself in. I lie about most things because I don't think people will believe me. 'Cause they got me on a fuckin' pedestal!
J* What do you hide?
V* My fat. Nobody knows I have it. They call me a role model and they don't know how close they are to the truth. I got rolls for days! I hide my grief often. My real grief. I show you my light grief. I don't show you my real grief. That's the kinda grief that grips, like those Firestone tires. I don't ever want anybody else to feel some of the things I felt. Ever. I'll put 'em in a poem but by that time they been glossed over with pen and paper. I don't mind sharin''em, but that gut wrenching how it really was...naaaa. I've already felt it.
J* What are you proud of?
V* I'm proud that I'm able to be the kind of person that people just love my ass! I'm loved by some extraordinary people. My children say sometimes "I don't like you" I say that's ok, I got a whole lotta people that love me. And my kids love me. I know that. It's a badge of honor. So many people just love me. Yeah. I'm proud of that. I'm proud to be a really good friend and to have really good friends.
J* What do you want?
V* Ummm? I want wholeness. Wait, somebody said if I want something then it implies that I don't have it.
J* Let's say that you do have it.
V* I want to experience the wealth that I generate. I want to be without impediments. I want someone to touch the hem of my garment and be healed. I want to speak and wipe away the famine. I want to free other peoples minds. Free yo mind yo ass will follow.
J* What do you want for your children and grandchildren?
V* Integrity, courage, peace within freedom. Not peace and some war on the side. Peace. Flexibility. Honor. Family. Guidance and protection. God. Some rhythm and blues. Dance. Flava. Rhythm. Course they already got that. Most of that. Vision. Clear vision.
J* What has been your consistent message to your children and grandchildren?
V* You will always have me. I told Zuri that I'm the queen and she is the princess. My grandchildren, I tell them when they say they want their mother, I tell them that they will always have their mother, they just have her differently. I tell my children that they will always have me. Life doesn't end, it just changes form. We don't die, we just step into another room. I also tell them to clean up what you mess up.
J* What do your locks mean to you?
V* Freedom. I don't have to do nothin' to my hair. I don't have to buy any scarves. Or hats. Or umbrellas even. And um...I don't have to carry a gun.
J* Say more about that.
V* Crouching tiger hidden...I hit you with my best shot. A switch don't have nothin' on this.
J* Have you ever been physically abused?
V* Yes. I would love to name names at this point. Yeah I'll tell who did it. I been physically abused by my father and my youngest children's father. I aint scared of them. It only took once. The last man who hit me was the last man who hit me. He only clipped me and he left and that saved us both. What comes up when you say physically abused is domestic violence and much of that is not physical. The emotional abuse was much worse than that piece a slap. But all the people who physically abused me are either under the ground or are heading there fast.
J* You didn't have nothin' to do with that did you?
V* (laughing) No! Lord have mercy. That's where my compassion comes in. 'Cause there was a time.
J* How did you survive?
V* By escaping. Leaving my body. Been trying to get back in ever since. That's the biggest challenge I have. Leaving my body and taking care of other people. That gave me something to do. I got really good at taking care of other people so that the same thing wouldn't happen to them.
J* What does being a vegetarian mean to you?
V* Nothing. How much money is meat? Good God! I got Connie some lamb chops and they were $8 for two! The steaks were what? $40! You spend all that to eat somethin' that's dead? Cost effective. Vegetarianism is kind and helpful to my body. All the diseases I had growing up, I will never have again. Mostly 'cause of my diet. I had kidney infections and ulcers, inflamed liver...good gracious. I had a number of things and didn't take medication and all 'cause of diet. Well, lifestyle 'cause I don't diet.
J* What was your favorite moment as a child?
V* Climbing trees. I still like to climb trees. Sittin' in the tree and watchin' people go by and they don't know you up there. My life on the east coast was really special. New England was special. It's clean. Family. Family. Family. As far as the eye can see.
J* What does your name mean?
V* V is my initial for my birth name Venela. I'm told it means sweet. However there are derivations that are culturally connected. There is a town in South Africa called Wenela. My father's twin sister who died when she was young, her name was Venela. I'm named for her. His father was from Guyana and I believe there was a connection there. I have heritage from India by way of Guyana. And Kali is a Hindu goddess. She's black mama. She's the goddess of transformation. I didn't know that when I took on that name.
J* Why did you take on the name?
V* I was in a taxi cab in 1969 and the driver said I reminded him of his sister. It just rang with me. I just started writing the name. I ran into an Aborigine at the marketplace and she said I reminded her of her daughter. Nurigan. So I was V Kali Nurigan for a while. I was affected by the sound of the names. I probably looked at them for a year. But I always believe that less is more. So I just go by V Kali. People been callin' me V since 1966 and some people call me Kali. I start to correct them but I just let them go on.
J* What would you want your biography called?
V* Ummm? Whatever it is will be one word.
J* How would you describe your relationship with God?
V* Sweet. Honest. The only relationship there is. Even if you're not true to yourself, you're true to yourself.
J* What song puts you in a good mood?
V* Back to the middle. Maybe that's not the name of it. What's that song that India.Aire sings?
J* What is your favorite thing to do when you're alone?
V* Walk around with no clothes on and the windows open. I actually like to cook in the nude, but that's a challenge when it comes to grease.