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At this time I heard the bell ring announcing some new customers were entering Brothers. For some reason I turned to see who was coming in. Usually I don’t sit with my back to the door, but this old man made me feel safe. Four men entered the door. Two of which I knew. Key and Brutus. The other two must have been some new recruits. They walked toward me and the old man’s table.
“Oh shit” I said under my breath.
“What’s up Jay?”, Key said “We’ve been looking for you for months.”
“Yea….I’ve just been laying low staying out the way.”
“Dog we thought you were dead or got kidnapped. What’s been up?”
“Like I said I’m just trying to stay out of the way.”
“That nigga is lying,” Brutus said, “Let’s just do what we came to do.”
Me and Brutus never got along. Nigga always wanted my position. Never wanted to play the role he was given. Brother wanted to steal my shine. I guess with my disappearing for a while he was able to move up in the fam.
“Calm down Brutus. I’m running this shit. Jay is still family even though he dipped on us.” Looking directly in my eyes and putting his hand on my shoulder “Jay you need to come with us. The Baba wants to talk to you.”
“Tell the Baba I will stop through tomorrow.”
“Dog, you don’t understand. He wants to see you now.”
At this point the other three brothers start to position themselves to enforce Key’s word.
“Key, why you being nice to this motherfucker? Let’s just snatch his ass up and go.”
“Brutus, shut the fuck up. Jay is family and we don’t need no problems like that right now. So Jay, let’s role alright. Come on.”
At this point everything was out of control. Brutus was all excited and he was looking for an excuse to shoot my ass anyway, Jealous nigga. I didn’t want anybody else involved in this shit and I especially did not want Old Man Simba to get hurt. So I decided to walk out with them. At this point something totally unexpected happened.
“Is there a problem Jay?”
“No sir. These are some old friends that just need to talk with me for awhile.”
“Well they don’t act like friends. They are acting like thugs.”
I tried to hint to Simba to stay out the way. I would handle it my way, but it was too late. Brutus already started running his mouth. This man had a complex. He was 6’4 tall and weighed at least 250. He felt nothing less than a bullet could stop him and to top it all off he hated me and anything or anybody who was close to me. The only reason he was controllable was because we ran in the same family (crew).
“Jay you need to tell your granddaddy to shut the fuck up.”
I can’t stand disrespect especially to elders.
“Brutus, you better settle your ass down before you get fucked up.”
I did not see the blow coming but I felt it at the top of my head. I fell out of my sit, and Brutus started to laugh. At this time everybody started clearing out of the place, and I saw the old man stand up.
“Why did you hit him”, the old man asked.
“Old man you better sit yo ass down before I knock you the fuck out.”
At this point I started wishing that the old man would sit down. When I didn’t see that was going to happen I hoped Key would gain control of the situation, but he stepped back.
“Young man you need to leave now.”
When the old man said this the only thing I could see was Brutus rushing over to push the old man down. Then it was over. It happened so fast I could not describe it. I just seen Brutus hit the floor unconscious. I seen absolutely no blows just a movement from the old man and Brutus was out cold.
Needless to say, everyone that was left in the coffee shop was stunned that this old man had just laid flat this gigantic fool. I was amazed at the speed at which he had accomplished this feat. As I began to get off the floor the old man sat back down and took a sip of his tea looking directly at Key.
“I think that it is time for you and your friends to leave. Pick up your brother and leave NOW!!!!”
The tone of his voice was very serious and bone chilling. Shit he stood up for me and I was scared. Key looked at his boyz.
“Pick him up, and let’s go. Yo Jay I’m sorry it went like this. You know how this boy gets when he gets excited, and plus he always hated you.
“Tell Baba I’ll be in to see him tomorrow, and tell that bitch you carrying I owe him one.”
“Peace,” Key said as he went to help with Brutus. Key and the two other guys struggled to get Brutus out of the coffee house and into the car. Then they fired up the car and drove away. Once I was sure they were gone I turned to the old man, and he started laughing.
“What are you laughing at?”
“I’m laughing at you holding your head.”
Then he started imitating me and I couldn’t help but to laugh myself.
“Son, if you would have been totally involved in the moment, he would never been able to hit you. The whole time you were in that situation your mind was elsewhere. If your mind was in the moment you not only would have outwitted the big dumb guy, but all three of his partners as well.
“And how do I learn to exist in the moment?”
“I told you, by accepting the fact that you can die any second, and being comfortable with that fact.”
My head was hurting so I put my forehead in my hand for extra support. My head hurt, but I was grateful Brutus did not know how to throw a punch or he would have knocked me out or maybe even killed me. The old man was right. My mind was on a thousand other things rather than dealing with the problem at hand, so I sat quietly thinking about what Old Man Simba had said. I was very scared of dying, and I didn’t know why. I guess it’s natural to fear death.
“Where were we before your friends showed up?”
“You were about to tell me the name of the young man you’re looking for.”
“I don’t know his name.”
“How do you plan to find this guy without a name?”
“I’ll know him when the time is right”
“What you mean?”
“There is a proverb that states “When the student is ready the master will appear, or in my case when the master is ready the student will appear.”
“So you are looking for a student?”
“What do you have to teach?”
“What the hell is that?”
“That’s the science of developing people who will build a nation for our people.”
“That sounds good, but that is impossible. Black folks don’t want a nation.”
“That’s what we are taught to believe. The fact is all people desire to organize themselves. Our people just don’t understand the science behind it.”
“That’s deep. You mean there is a science to coming together?”
“Yes, yes young man, there is a method to everything you do. Science for me is first a matter of identifying the method. After you identify the method you can use the method to get to your intended goal.”
The old man started making sense; he ordered more tea. He had then cleaned the table. He had them bring out 3 cups. He ordered the tea and guaranteed that I would like it more than my earlier choice. He placed the cups on the table and filled the 3rd cup first. Then he filled my cup, and then his.
“Old man, tell me about these ancestors.”
“What do you want to know?”
“What are they?”
“I’ll tell you about ancestors after you tell me about your Baba.”
This is the first time I felt uneasy talking with Simba. I started to wonder whether or not he was an undercover, but then I figured he was too old. Why did he want to know about Baba.
“Son, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. I just figured maybe it was something I could help you with. Is this Baba character the reason you have been coming here lately?”
This was the first time I realized that the old man had been checking me out for awhile.
“I don’t mind telling you. I’m just suspicious about certain things. It’s an old street habit.”
Simba was looking at me with genuine interest waiting for me to continue.
“Baba is a nickname we gave an old head from the neighborhood. He took me and a few of my friends up under his wing and taught us about the streets. He supplies and basically leads us in all of our endeavors. ”
“Supplies you with what, and what type of endeavors”
At this point I didn’t know whether the old man was playing dumb or genuinely didn’t know, so I indulged in his game.
“Drugs and Robberies.”
“What type of drugs?”
“Cocaine and weed mostly.”
“What type of robberies?”
“Old man, are you the police?”
“Why do you need to this information?”
“Because I am interested in your story and obviously if I am going to get to know you I need to find out about what you are doing.”
“Was doing. I am no longer involved in that business. That’s why they were looking for me because I decided to leave it alone and disappear.”
“Oh…..what type of robberies did yall do?”
“We mostly jacked other crews.”
“Hum….Why you stop?”
“It just didn’t feel right to me anymore. I needed a change in my life.”
“Do you know what a Baba is?”
“Yes, kind of…..Me and Key went to a Kwanzaa Celebration with some girls and the leader was called Baba. So we started calling Orlando Baba since he was the oldest, and the leader of our crew. It started as a joke but it stuck.”
“Now it’s your turn.”
“You said you would tell me about the ancestors.”
“Oh yeah….you got to stay on me because I’m old and sometimes forget. The ancestors are beings that look after us. They are the spirits of loved ones that have made their transition.”
“Transition? What’s that?”
“Transition is the proper term for death. Rather life just ending it continues in another form. So rather than a ending it is a transition to another state”
“So you are trying to tell me that death is not the end?”
“No it is not the end. Actually it is a new beginning if you are prepared for it.”
“What do ancestors do?”
“They protect, and advise us if we take care of them.”
“Wait, you trying to tell me you speak to ghost, and they protect you?”
“If you don’t believe me…explain what happened to your big friend.”
“You did some form of karate or something on him.”
“No son. You witnessed an ancestral intersession?. I show the ancestors respect and love and they return that love and respect. This time by protecting me from harm at the hands of your friend.”
“You telling me Brutus was knocked out by a ghost?”
The very thought made me laugh. I had never heard anything so crazy in my life. Then I realized that the old man had barely moved and Brutus was knocked unconscious. The old man cupffe wasn’t even knocked loose, and that’s when I realized I had to take him seriously
“How do you explain the existence of these ancestors?”
“I don’t, I just know that they are there and that is enough for me.”
“How did you find out about them?”
“I found out about them through research, and actual experiences. I had a close friend that had died. One day I swore that I had saw him, but when I tried to catch him he was gone. At first I thought I was crazy. Then I spent a lot of time in the library studying information about ghost. Then I ran across the term ancestors. Studied some of our people’s ancient traditions, and developed my own hypothesis and put then into practice.”
“You said that you take care of them?”
“Yes I do.”
“I love them, remember them, and feel them.”
“Is that why you have extra cups at the table?”
“Yes it is.”
“Do they ever drink or eat what you leave then?”
When I asked him this he started laughing. I guess he was looking at the expression on my face.
“No….it’s not the actual offering that feeds them it’s the energy behind the act.”
“If you can’t see them, or touch them how can you believe they exist?”
“Young man, there is far more going on in this world than you will ever be able to measure. For example you don’t feel or see the air in this room, but that does not mean it does not exist. I can’t see the thoughts in your head, but does not mean they don’t exist.”
“Good answer, I guess.”
“Young man I’m getting tired and about to go home. If you want to talk some more I’ll stop in here tomorrow about the same time.”
I left the coffee house and went to my home thinking about everything that happened. That old man intrigued me and made me want to see him tomorrow, but before I do that I have some business to settle with Baba.