GOD IS A WOMAN
My estranged grandfather changed his name from Mustafa Zafar Faisal to Charles Peter Russell. He lives alone in London and no longer wanted to be treated like a brown man. Besides, he gave all of his kids different last names anyway, for numerological reasons. To this day, everything wrong in my family is pinned to him and what he did or did not do. Even depression itself is blamed on him, and his sister that killed herself. When my mother is upset with my father, she says to me, “I am going to tell you all about your grandfather!” All I know are the vague outlines of a story with a second family and the very real presence of a lonely grandmother, knitting in front of the TV.
When a group of missionaries approached him at the mall, Grandpa Chuck said, “God is a woman,” which I sort of understood. Later, he gave me copies of four self-published books. One of them was called The Sailor’s Wife and was dedicated to Monica Lewinsky. He next visited after getting mugged, and he gifted me his watches and said, “by the way, about the books. They’re all porn.” I showed my dad because I thought we could share a laugh, but when he opened the inside cover, his boyish eyes froze on the words. It said, “to my brainy boy”, and then Grandpa Chuck had written his last name after my name. The real one, not Russell.