August 26th

I ran out of court themed titles, so I just decided to name this post after the date on which the final judgment was meant to be had.

I woke up that morning, pretty confident that the judgment was going to be in my favor. I mean after all, Douche Bag had come to the Superior Court seeking full custody of my eldest on the grounds that her hair was “busted” every time he picked her up.

A few unexpected things happened that morning. As I tipped into the judicial building precariously on heels I hadn’t worn in two years, I got stares of admiration  from homeless men and vagabonds. I haven’t been ogled in a while, since my appearance has been in decline with the birth of each successive child, so I was somewhat flattered. Once inside the building, I was told after going through the metal detectors that I would have to leave my camera in the security office. The very (very) elderly security guard flirted with me and upon my departure, groaned ever so slightly and begged me to come back and see him when I came to get my camera. Again, I was somewhat pleased, because I hadn’t been flirted with in a while…but ewww. As I turned the corner to get to our assigned meeting room, a young man in his late 20s exclaimed “Dayum!”. I could practically feel his eyes boring into my backside. 10 years ago, I would have been annoyed and cut my eyes at him; but all 32 year old, overweight Malaka wanted to do was turn around, thank him, and give him a big hug.

Concerning the judgment – It was like bringing paper clips to a knife fight.

Douche Bag greeted the judicial officer with a cautious “good morning” and a hopeful look in his eye. For my part, I hadn’t even got my butt in the seat before she said:

“Alright. Here’s what we’re gonna do. Your daughter is going to go with her mother to Ghana on a temporary basis. You will have visitation with her everyday via Skype. You (pointing to me) will bring her back here on November 19th to get the final judgment from the superior judge. Normally, we’d allow you to read the social services report, but why? Basically, all it says is that she’s bonded with her mom, she’s excited about going, so she’s going.”

She looked down at a stack of papers, looked back at us and began to scribble. Douche Bag sunk into his chair.

“So that’s it?” he asked in despair. “She’s just gonna go? You just make it sound so simple; like dats it!”

“It’s not simple at all Mr. Douche Bag,” she said briskly. “It’s a horrible, horrible situation. I recognize that you love your daughter, and she loves you…but she is bonded to her mother, and I’m not going to take her away from her. I’m not going to do that to her.”

She delivered the news as if telling him he had cancer, was going to die in a week, and to suck it up. She turned and looked at me.

“This has nothing to do with you, you understand.”

I raised my eyebrows and nodded in quick agreement.

“So dats it?” he said again. His lips began to quiver.

“Yes. What time do you get off work Mr. Douche Bag? We need to schedule a time for you to have skype visits with her.”

“About 8 o’clock.”

“So that means she would be in bed at midnight. What time does she go in for school Mrs. Grant?”

“At 8 am,” I replied.

As she mumbled about dates and times, Douche Bag broke down and wept uncontrollably. The officer and I looked at the floor uncomfortably. I feigned morose. Any sympathy I might have felt for him was quelled when I recalled what he had said to me in a moment of privacy in court just a few months before.

Yeah nigga,” he chuckled. “I bet you wish you never had a baby by me, huh? Next time, put a sock on the pickle.”

I looked at the man who had put me through 5 years of hell – costing me money, sleepless nights, my self esteem, joy and at times my sanity.

Yeah nigga,” I thought. “Next time, put a sock on the pickle and maybe you won’t be sitting in court crying like a beeyotch.

My thoughts were interrupted when he suddenly fled the room –  or attempted to flee the room.

“How do I open this door?” he sobbed.

“Turn the handle and pull it,” the judicial officer said flatly.

He left the room hurriedly and left she and I to sort out the details of our return and skype visits.

In the adjacent court room, the superior judge was hearing a case of a divorced couple with 2 boys. It was a mess. The mom was holding her own against his lawyer who was just being a total jerk, drilling her about silly things that had everything to do with nothing. I thanked my stars that I was lucky enough never to have married that dirt bag.

*****2 days later****

Douche asked me if Na could spend the night at his house for the last time. I wanted to remind him that it was NOT the last time, we’d be back in November, having wasted thousands of dollars when all he had to do was drop this suit and save me some money.

“Sure.” I replied.

I told her that she was going over to his house and she immediately burst into tears.

“I don’t want to go,” she cried. “I want to stay with you!”

All I could see was him waving his court order in my face.

“Sweetie, you’ll be back tomorrow,” I said. “If you still don’t want to go when I drop you off, we can come back home. Just tell him you want to stay.”

I packed her into the car and drove her to what must have felt like her doom. When we arrived, she kept herself buckled in her seat and refused to budge. He walked up  to the car and asked what was wrong.

“She doesn’t want to go,” I said.

He rolled his eyes, roughly unbuckled her and commanded her to come on.

“You only have one more day with your daddy,” he said.

I watched her walk off bravely, sobbing silently, her shoulders and chest heaving. It brought back memories of when she would flail every time she saw him as an infant.

“Hey!” I yelled. “Are you really going to make her cry???”

“How am I making her cry?” he asked in irritation.

“Look at her!”

He saw his child holding his hand, mourning with  huge tears rolling down her  face.

“Let me talk to her,” he said.

I sat in the parking lot for 25-30 minutes. He could be very persuasive, and I was certain he would bribe her with some phantom treat or blackmail her emotionally. After a while, he walked her back to my car, strapped her in, and gave her a final kiss. Wit for wit, she had outmatched him and gotten what she wanted. She is her father’s child in that way. I was certain he would accuse me of plotting against him. Whatever.

As his car disappeared in my rear view, all I could think was Dag! Talk about adding insult to injury. You’re so reprehensible, your own child doesn’t want to spend her final days with you.

Welp! You know what they say about the wages of sin.