Mister and Mrs. Fédée lived close to where Ma Douse lived. Like other New Village residents, they kept a mental, compartmentalized dossier on every person within the community—to use when the occasion arose. And they never had any trouble with the law. Except for that one incident with Kasilda one Christmas Eve morning. Kasilda had lodged a complaint against them or one of their daughters at the Police Station on Jeremie Street and a police officer had been dispatched to investigate. When the policeman invited Kasilda into Mister and Mrs. Fédée’s yard so he could get both sides of the story, Mister Fédée protested and demanded that the girl remain at the roadside. The policeman, bristling at the blatant affront to his authority, insisted that Kasilda come into the yard. She complied, and the community got a Christmas Eve to remember. Continue reading New Village postscript – Part 4
Miss Jaynise and Miss Fanny, too, have crossed the Great Divide. They, too, lived along the challenge section of road. Miss Jaynise’s adopted son, Hester, who was called “Gi Pants” by many who knew him, is a patient at the Golden Hope Hospital—an institution for the mentally ill. He has spent the last twenty to twenty-five years of his life there. Continue reading New Village postscript – part 3
Vitalien assessed the situation. After five years of selling salted flying fish to her scattered patrons, two indicators revealed it was time to quit. She had no education, but she was not stupid; nobody had to tell her that other women selling the same commodity as she did and the introduction of fishing vessels in the various communities would continue to negatively affect her sales. The returns she now got were simply not worth the grueling effort she put into the venture. She communicated her decision to Harold and they both agreed he would sell some of his share of the fish and bring the rest home for their own use. The questions which then arose were: what would she now do to earn some additional money to take care of their ever-growing needs? What could she do? What was available to someone like herself? Continue reading The final journey – part 4
“Small goals” football is still played on the section of road from the entrance to the shortcut leading to La Pansée to the dead-end close to the river—unlike the “challenge” variety of cricket and football; that pastime is as dead as the competitive spirit that spawned it so many years ago. The games were played mainly on weekends and holidays when boys would scramble to get their household chores done as quickly as possible so they could take to the street. Once there, opposing teams, each headed by a captain, would be selected and the challenge match would begin after a small wager was placed by the teams on the outcome of the game. Continue reading New Village postscript – 2
Not too far up,
Against a sun-burnished canopy
Of white cloud and azure sky,
A lone bird rode the wind.
With practiced ease
It teased the current beneath its outstretched wings. Continue reading Bird
Cover mile after mile of unrelenting distance on foot to communities as far west or east as Anse-La-Raye or Dennery. Continue walking even when exhaustion permeates flesh and seeps into bones and placing one foot in front of another requires a superhuman effort of will. Call out to patrons “Volan salé! Volan salé!” with your mouth tasting of dust which is also in your eyes, nostrils and throat; repeat the call at periodic intervals although it appears that nobody is buying today. Give your best smile and inquire about one’s health and that of her family when a sale is being made in spite of the frustration of this being a bad day.
Return home on rubbery legs that threaten to collapse beneath you. Get there between five-thirty and six amidst the long shadows of approaching dusk with the dust and sweat caked onto your skin and wolf down whatever little is available. Try not to think about your friends cleaning up and indulging in the luxury of healing sleep while you busy yourself in preparing for the next day. Harold has brought more fish which must be made ready for the road tomorrow before you can release some of the massive exhaustion build-up.
The fins and scales of each fish must be carefully removed before it is cut open along the length of its white underbelly to expose the entrails within. The entrails are scooped out and an incision is made on either side of the bony middle so the upper flesh containing the profusion of tiny bones can be removed. Great care must be exercised when removing those tiny bones as you don’t want too much flesh taken out with the bones. Wash the fish in one basin—discarding the water at intervals—and put them in another basin for salting before transferring them to the big, white bucket. Your children are in bed and asleep before you’re finished. Then place the pemi and breadnut paraphernalia together for Thomas so his chores can be a bit lighter in the morning. In the privacy of your cramped bedroom, you perform your nightly ablution with the weight of the day’s activities pressing down upon you. Finally, drag yourself off to bed and scream silently in self-suppressed outrage as your man reaches out to claim your tired flesh. You will, as always, submit to him.
Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the story, “The final journey”, from the novella, “House of Tears”, now available on Amazon Kindle.
Mister Glace, his wife, and their family are no longer seen in New Village. Mister Glace has been dead these past many years while his Curacaoan wife lives with one of their daughters. The house has been rented to one or two families, and two small commercial enterprises now exist on the ground floor where a garage once was. That garage was once a thriving business where vehicle owners from near and far brought their vehicles for service or repair. It was also a place for small talk and socializing during off-peak hours or when work was done for the day. The garage was abandoned when Mister Glace’s sons drifted off in search of other pursuits, and he decided he could no longer operate it on his own. Continue reading New Village postscript – Part 1