Another Day Another Lesson
It is about two o'clock in the afternoon and the sun's intensity is beginning to dwindle. The bright sea blue sky is randomly dabbled with several white clouds. Coconut and cherry trees sway lazily with the passing wind, while the dogs take their afternoon's rest on the cool concrete paving surrounding the house shaded by the house's shadow. All this time I am sitting on the edge of the red painted concrete platform which is between the stairs to the house and the house. Swinging my legs blissfully I painfully try to pass the time, for there is nothing to do. I quickly rise from the edge of the platform I am sitting at and enter the house to see what my great grandmother is up to.
I step into the enclosed patio and she is humming to herself cutting away the skin of a green chatyne. Chatyne is a green spherical fruit with spiky skin that holds many fleshy seeds encased in a brown shell. When the fruit is green, the outer walls that protect the seeds is very tough and is made of many layers which can be peeled off or chopped into many large pieces to be cooked. However, when the fruit is ripe the hard and spiky green skin is delicately soft. One can easily make a permanent finger impression on the chatyne's skin by simply holding the fruit too tightly and feeling the spikes slowly cave into the fruit from the pressure.
“Wah yuh doing that for?”,I inquisitively asks.
“Ah making curry chatyne and bake1 for we to eat later.”, she answers but makes no eye contact.
“Can I help?”
“No!”, she says firmly.
“Because yuh can easily cut yuhself an I eh able to take anybody chile2 to ward 1 on the hospital. Me already old, me nah wan nobody to blame me for deh chile getting deh hand cut off.”
“But I would be careful.”
“Boy, I already tell yuh no. So stop bothering meh and go out in the yard and play.”
Angrily I walk away down the stairs and into the back yard. I then begin to grumble to myself.
“I hate being here. Ah always have to sit around and do nothing. Oh you to small to be doing this. Oh big people talking here so go outside. Aren't you to big to be doing that? When would deh make up dey minds.”
Suddenly there is a loud scream of my name.
I quickly run to the patio yelling on the top of my voice.
When I arrive I am quickly scolded for my response.
“Who the hell yuh think yuh talking to. One of yuh friend or something? Yes who? Cat, dog?”
“Yes, Mammy Mems.”
“I doh want yuh out in the yard bare feet. I tired of telling yuh to put on yuh slippers. And doh tell me yuh had it on because it right in front of meh and it hasn't leave meh sight. So put on yuh slippers. And ah doh want yuh running, because yuh could fall and damage yuhself. Me nah taking anybody chile to no hospital.”
Unwilling I place the green rubber slipper onto my feet and cautiously walk beyond the perimeter of her presence. Upon reaching the plum tree that spreads a beautifully across the yard and dangerously over the fencing onto a large canal, I sit angrily on the base of one of its sturdy trunks.
“Now I can't run. Wah she want me to do? Stand up like ah statue and doh do anything? When is mummy coming to pick me up from this hell hole?”
Not to long after I am whining to myself I her the horn of a car beeping crazily to the front and I can vaguely see a green sedan between the leaves of the trees. My heart pumped with excitement for it most likely is mummy and without thinking I quickly run to the front forgetting my slippers, which I left at the base of the tree before I climbed upon it. Without a doubt it is mummy, looking all dressed up.
“Mummy!”,I shout and I quickly met her by the gate.
“Hello Clairwen. So what have you been up to?”, she asks with a smile.
“Nothing. Mammy Mems told me I can't run around in the yard.”
Before she can respond, the greatest of the greatest crawls out of her cave saying,
“Is dat Wendy?”
As she makes her way onto the platform between the house and the stairs with one hand on akimbo and the other holding the stainless steel basin with the green chatyne she continues,
“So yuh come to pickup yuh chile or yuh too busy running around the place like yuh is a police.”
“Old woman, yuh miserable you know.”, my mom answers.
“Buh this miserable old woman is taking care of yuh pickney.”
“Anyhow, I came to talk to you about something.”
My mom then makes her way up the stairs and into the patio while my great grandmother left the stainless steel basin outside on the platform. I patiently allow five minutes to pass and carefully make my way up the stairs. While they are talking I slowly drag the basin closer and closer to the stairs, trying my best not to draw any attention. Finally the basing is in my grasp and out of my great grandmother and mother's sight. To my displeasure the knife is missing. Luckily it isn't the only large knife that can be use to cut the chatyne, so I head to the back entrance of the house which is closer to the kitchen. Another advantage to entering from the back is that I will avoid interrupting their conversation and be able to leave with the other knife. As I enter the house through the back door, I hear a sudden shout.
“Doh enter my house with yuh dutty slippers. This isn't yuh mother and dem house yuh know.”
“Yes Mammy Mems.” I answer promptly.
These are the moments in which I am confused about the severity of her deafness. Pushing my bewilderment aside, I grab the knife from the stack and cautiously make my way to the front. I am now ready to finish what my great grandmother has started. Only half of the chatyne is left undone, so my work isn't going to be too much. I then remove one of the larger pieces and place it in one hand while I ready the knife in another. Carefully I press the knife unto the chatyne using one hand to hold the chatyne firmly in the palm of my hand and the other to cut right through the center. When the knife reaches slightly over the halfway mark, I stop to tear the pieces into half. I continue to do this but as the pieces get smaller, the splitting of the chatyne is getting more and more difficult. While the pieces are still to large they are also a bit too small to cut without using a cutting board. Because I did not want to disappoint my great grandmother, I push on to get the job done.
I grab one of the largest of the smaller pieces, quickly place it into my hand and without much care I press the knife unto the thinner and less sturdier piece of chatyne with the same force I used on the larger pieces. The knife quickly slips through the chatyne and spitefully rests on my inner palm causing a disagreement with my skin leading to some degree of separation. I am in shock, for I know what has happen but, I could not feel it. The knife and the chatyne is still being held firmly in my hand and my fear of reality prevents me from letting going to examine the damage. Slowly I release the chatyne from my hand and lift the knife away. The chatyne then falls into the basing perfectly sliced, while I stare at the now empty hand which once held the chatyne. My hand looks fine as it is barely open and I begin to smile but, as my hand open up further the my skin unzip and blood slowly makes its way to the forefront.
Quickly I close my hand, hoping that it would all just disappear but the reality of my actions starts to eat away at my hand as the long lost sensation of pain come rushing without mercy. Like ants eating away at my flesh, the pain is growing and the need to cry out in pain is building. I did not want her to know what I did but, I could not keep it to myself for the evidence and the pain could not be hidden. Rocking back and forth as I try to nurse the pain, the knife falls out of my hand and bounces down the stairs making a loud metallic crash. Meanwhile, my right hand is holding my severe palm as if it is ready to fall apart.
“Clairwey?”, I hear from the patio with heavy footsteps following.
The greatest of the greatest then step out the platform.
“Boy, what happened?”, she quickly rushes to my aid. Without an answer and guilt pouring through my naive veins I begin to cry like a baby with pain and regret.
“Sssh! Everything would be alright. Now let me see how badly yuh was hurt.”
With tears clouding my vision, I slowly open my hand.
“Thank dee lord that yuh is a weakling, for God only knows what could ah happen if did ah went through yuh hand.”
“What happened?”, a squeaky voice of great concern cracks through the air as my mother come hastily to my aid.
“Dee boy cut he hand. Buh doh worry it ain't dat bad. I will jus clean it up, put some iodine on it and then wrap dee hand up.”
“Clairwen baby, are you OK?”, my mother with deep concern.
With tears flowing from my eyes and my mouth sealed with the will not to cry out I give a slow nod of apprehension that I am OK.
“You go do what yuh have to do chile, I would take care of him. Ah going to make some curry chatyne and bake. Atleast this would keep him quite for a while.”
“I will pass back later to see how he is doing.”, she then kiss me on my forehead and depart.
While tending to my wounds in the patio I receive the lecture that I deserve.
“Yuh think when Mammy Mems say not to do something that she is doing it to make you vex. No, it is to prevent yuh from hurting yuhself. Now yuh gone and cut yuh hand. So now yuh can't climb dee tree until it heal. Luckily yuh young so it would heal fast. Do think I want to make yuh life hard. Everything ah tell yuh is for yuh own good, okay. I doh want yuh to get hurt.”, she says as finish the nursing of my wound.
bake:- A flat circular bread