Bassy - Love Vine
October 12, 2007
My kind ah story

Funeral Blues caught me de other day when ah went to play foh Maxi, my coconut vendor-buddy who was murdered. Maxi got entangled in ah tri-an-glue-her love affair and his rival stabbed him up bad, he didn’t mek it. Standing next to me at de grave-side in plain white dresses, white sox and black shoes were Max’s two lickle six and nine year ole girls. Side by side supporting each other with the free hand tucked under dey chin, tears foh dad-dah trickling down dey soft cheeks.{{more}} Dey stood dey quiet and numb, staring into de hole as de grave-diggers poured de dirt back into de grave gradually covering de coffin dat concealed dey father. We sang de closing chous “crown him wid roses” and “Good Night”. Den Maxi’s sister grabbed de lickle girl’s hands and whisked dem out ah de cemetery. As ah looked at de two innocent kids leaving de scene, I agonized trying to figure what could be going on in dey mind, den sadness overpowered me and my eye water flowed foh Max, but more so foh his lickle ones.

All week it was like ah heavy burden thinking of those two kids; so to raise me spirits ah decided to finish de final chapter ah dis interesting book foh Doc Richard Cox, “Was Mamma’s Tears In Vain”. Ah don’t know what got into Richard’s head, in conversation he told me he had written dis book, dat he was giving me ah copy, ah must read it and give him my “candid opinion”. At first ah was flattered, meee! but den ah say to me-self, Richie had to be crazy, I does write creole wid me own vern-ah-killer, spiced wid gossip and come-mess too, how on earth ah go handle ah whole book foh Richard, who occasionally writes material foh de papers, way sometimes de language so high ah does have to climb ah ladder to see way he coming from. Mek matters worse, Ken John like he got copy ah de book before every body, and in his usual flurry, he commended de writer highly, dat again intimidated me even more.


It so happen dat ah was not ah home when Richard dropped off his book; my wife told me dat Jomo passed by wid ah gentleman who left ah book and warned her not to read it, however de book looks interesting she said. Is woman curiosity yuh dealing wid, she obviously had to tek ah peek. Straight away ah bounced into de pages and to my surprise it was Folklore, Vincy Folklore and easy to read too. Ah realized then why he enrolled me. De opening story was about “Jumbie Money” wow! Young people today won’t know ah ting bout de days when ah Jumbie would visit yuh in yuh dream, carry yuh and show yuh de exact spot way to dig foh treasure, money, gold and silver sometimes! De tale is dat rich folks from Europe uses to sail out here and bury dey riches, but before covering de hole dey would execute ah member of de crew, on de spot, and bury him wid de money to watch it. Dem Jumbie Money tales ah know bout is gory stuff. After ah couple centuries as custodian de Jumbie becomes desperate, he wants to go back, wants to free up his responsibility and here is way Richard puts an interesting twist to de folk tale. He places de Jumbie scenario squarely into our colonial past, ah ting we consider dead, but still hanging on, haunting us! Ah nice opening.

And throughout de book de good Doc uses our rich folklore to strengthen and build on his story line, like de fight dat broke out in de Praise House, when de Spiritual Baptist Leader, Pointer Phillips decided to inflict a (slave) spiritual whipping on Bro Jacobs who retaliated. No Sir, no matter way, could be in church, de days ah whipping wa overfoh Bro Jacobs; another hang-over from slavery maybe. There’s de rebellious nature of Japheth de village bully, who from ah child was labeled “bad” and lived up to his name, dat is no fiction. Den there is de humorous side wid de experiences of Brie, de youngster who had his first experience at ah kiaso tent. Ah familiar scene, maybe back in de days ah King Brooklyn’s “Largo Height ah way dem busy dey”! Somehow ah believe dat Brie’s unforgettable experience belongs to de writer. And of course, Sattou, de browne skin child born on de estate; ah lickle one belonging to Massa’s son. Sattou somehow inherits his fathers share of de estate, not before enduring nuff psychological pain searching foh daddy.


So up until Maxi’s funeral, ah found me-self glued to de book like all de other readers. When ah resumed reading, twelve year ole Boysie was at de grave-side looking on as dey shoveled de sand over his Mom’s coffin, tears flowed like ah river from his eyes. His Mom, who had been ailing foh sometime, mainly malnourished, maybe TB or some other silent killer, finally succumbed to death. Right away ah saw Maxi’s two lickle girls at de cemetery staring at dey father’s coffin, ah felt ah lump in me throat, me eyes went blurry and ah tear trickled down my cheek, what cheek, my tough face! Ah shut de book, throw it one-side until weeks later Richard called to find out how ah getting thru. Ah told him what happened and promised to finish his premiere. Dat Final chapter is de book itself: “Were Mama’s Tears in Vain”. After highlighting in de earlier passages, all de evils, humiliation, sufferings and de damaging effects of Co-loan-ill-is-him, de writer revisits de Plantation and produces de solution to “remove de dead man living wid us”. Education it is. Foh Boysie de hard choice was education or continue in slave conditions. Should he at age twelve, motherless, fatherless, homeless and hungry, quit wuking on de estate, remain subservient to Master Carson who will later be succeeded by his son, or obey his Mother’s last wish, walk away and complete his schooling? On her dying bed and wid ah Mama’s Tears in her eyes she begged him: “follow de example of Sam Browne”! Sam Browne, my hero in de story, was de proud estate drunk who put down tools and refused to wuk on ah Sunday, cuss-off Mr Carson, de owner ah de estate, took his bundle, his cutlass and demanded his pay before walking off de estate, never to look back. He quickly created employment making bamboo brooms. Later on it was Browne who was able to offer moral and financial support to Boysie when it was his time to mek dat big decision. Boysie, determined to unshackle himself from de chains of colonial slavery, aided and abetted by Browne, opted to obey his Mom, took de decision to leave de wuk as well as de estate and go back to school. He took his final exams, came thru wid flying colours, and won de battle over enslavement. Widout doubt Boysie’s success would have been his Mamma’s greatest joy, knowing all her tears were not in vain. Ah lesson foh us all. And wid dat ah gone again.

One Love Bassy