It's the word for "naughty" here in Haiti. I get called that name so much by the Haitian momma's around here that you if you came for a visit you might think that's my nickname. My son has inherited the salutation as well, but for the most part, it's light and playful. It's crossing the line into pa-bon, "not good", that you really want to avoid. Once you're there, plan on having to earn your way back from the dark side.
Some of the boys and girls that Kari works with are dezòd. They are mischievous, they are on the border of trouble, flirting with crossing over. The other day they stopped by as usual after school, their little rag-tag band of toughness, but Kari wasn't home. She was with me, driving across Haiti to pick up Bibles. But Tikilene was at the house, and when they knocked on the back gate and asked for her, she politely told them that the Madame was not home.
The next day they came, and told Kari a whopper. They'd come to the house, innocently of course, looking to have Bible time with Kari. Tikilene yelled at them angrily, telling them to go away, and then in an effort to mark her solidarity, she proceeded to pick up a large rock and throw it at the poor school children. The rock slammed into the forehead of one of the poor, helpless girls who was already trying to get away, and cut her....
And now, they said, there was going to be trouble. That girl's mother was going to come down from the mountain and have words with Tikilene, and somehow it was going to be our problem as well. I mean, how dare she!
The moment I heard that tall-tale, I dismissed it. Tikilene is an angel. She wouldn't pick up a rock to throw it at a dog, much less a school girl. She's not the Troll of Ti Rivier. She's the Diamond in the Rough! Besides, the story was full of holes, the biggest being the ABSENCE of the hole in said-girl's forehead. Not even a mark upon her pretty little face....hmmmmm. Just a fast healer?
So, when she came to work we told her the story.
Not only was she shocked, but she made absolutely certain that we knew the truth.
The girls had in fact come to the gate.
Tikilene politely told them that the Madame wasn't home...
and that's where the departure from reality took place.
In truth, they asked her again, and again, and again.
She told them repeatedly, "She's not here." and then finally, "You need to go on now."
And then came the reply,
"What is this, your yard? You don't @#$%$ tell us what to do!"
With that, Tikilene said she rushed towards the gate, but certainly did NOT hit anyone with the rock that she picked up, because she didn't actually pick up a rock, she pretended to pick up a rock. The kids ran for all their might, since that actually is a common response to that kind of disrespect here, but the rock never existed, except in their minds.
Along came the schoolkids, unawares. The Dezòds, I've decided to call them.
"Guess what kids? We've talked with Tikilene."
Whoops. Didn't think that far ahead I guess.
So what happened? As their punishment, Tikilene told them all to come in and sit down. For the next hour they shucked peanuts with us. They all said they were sorry. They all apologized for their tall tale. The sun began to set, and because they live so far away we usually give them a ride as a treat.
"Well, normally it would be time to go home in the car. Who needs a ride?" I said.
They all raised their hand. Getting a ride in a car is a big deal here.
"Ok. But tell me again, who was dezòd?"
A couple of hands barely raised. Frowns came upon faces at the thought of making the long walk home.
And after a few seconds of painful silence I asked,
"Who here knows the meaning of the word 'grace'?"
Yesterday they came to even help us finish the peanuts. (Yes. It takes that long to shuck peanuts. I will never take a jar of peanuts for granted again.)
They each brought a piece of fruit from the family tree as a peace offering. Abriko and a baby mango, just coming into season.
When we finished I told them they could come back on Saturday because Tikilene is making tablet out of the nuts. It's a very good, very sugary treat made from the syrup of sugar cane. We gave them bread with peanut butter, and when I told them it was from America, they began to savor each bite, actually licking it instead of eating it.
They were so content afterward that they danced, they patty-caked with the moms and kids, and even washed up in the basin with soap.
Yep. Dezòd. Not quite turned. Just kids. Not rotten through to the core. Just rough around edges, in need of a good trimming or a sharp spankin', one or the other or both. And they all need Jesus.
Just like me.