Nina Talbot

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Lahiny's Story
Lahiny's Story
pastel 30" x 22"

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From Jacmel, Haiti to East Flatbush, Brooklyn

"You don't know who is listening… Don't say anything bad about the government parties. Even complaining to your neighbor about the price of rice can be heard as a slant against the government." Lahiny didn't go to school for a year because her grandma was afraid she would "catch a bullet," with all the shooting going on. The wife of a tonton macoute and Lahiny's mother got into a fight, and an uncle got involved. Later, the tonton macoute came after the uncle, and shot him in the stomach. He ran out of the house holding his belly together to escape to a different locale. Years later, the same tonton macoute came back to hide in the uncle's house when the tables were turned after the fall of the Duvalier regime. Bullets shot by the tonton macoutes reverberate and zig-zag in the mountainous neighborhood of Jacmel. Once a bullet went through Lahiny's neighbor's zinc roof and killed a sleeping two-year old in her crib. Meanwhile, Pagerro jeeps were given as gifts to tontons macoutes in exchange for the longest lists of traitors. Port-au-Prince became "Jeep City," with women wearing sunglasses, driving around. There was even a fancy ball where the room was frozen so that the wives of rich politicians would have an occasion to wear their furs. On February 7, 1986, a murmer "he is gone," was heard throughout the neighborhood at 5AM, when the Duvalier regime fell. The smell of burning tires necklacing the former tontons wafted in the air. Lahiny Nereus is a writer, living in East Flatbush with her family.

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