Ahhh Look at the village, look at how peaceful it is nah man. I could hear the birds and them singing like crazy, that melody sweet for so, just l like an old time calypso. Now the rooster join in with a powerful solo. I tell you what, this symphony sound better than Sunday marning church singing. Oh wait, here comes the back rhythm section as the wind sweep through the bamboo in the back yard. Oh yes, let me stand here and close me eyes for a second, yes, that is it, let that early marning breeze tickle me skin, ahhhh, nice and cool. Ok, that good, let me sit down here and look out at the hills and them, watch them turn from first light gray to tropical green. Yes man, the best way to start me weekend, right here looking out at the village.
The outfit was white and the shirt sagged on me when I put it on, the pants were bout two or three inches too short and they flapped against me ankles as I walked over to the mirror next to the dresser, I looked at meself, hell man; I felt like a damn clown all I needed now were big red shoes. I walked back over to the bed and sat down nervously waiting for what was to happen next. I thought bout the stories I had heard bout Obeah meetings, Dummy James had lost he voice after putting a spell on some woman who had jilted him, I mean, what was the man thinking, if you took one look at he face you would know why he damn woman left him. Anyway, the damn spell must have backfired or something because after he came back from the obeah man he sounded like a seal in heat when he talked. Let’s not forget Crazy Lucy, the woman lived in a broken down house on the street near the school I attended when I was about ten years old, man I tell you, that woman was crazy for so, I mean, she had this wild look in she eyes and some of me schoolmates had said that she frothed at the mouth when she got vexed. She had stepped in a potion she had laid out for she lover’s mistress and now one of she legs was twice the size of the other. I remember walking by that house afraid to look at her, she would chase we school kids with a broom all the while screaming that we was the devils children and we would burn in the pits of hell. At night when I went to bed I still heard she voice echoing in me head, I mean, these were two people I grew up hearing stories bout and I sure did not want to end up like them.
I got up and walked over to the window trying to clear me mind, the shadows of the tree branches stretched out across the yard like God’s fingers tightening he grip on the earth. I was becoming impatient, I mean, when the hell were they going to start this ceremony? Then as if they knew what I was thinking, the door opened and Alison and the old lady who opened the door for me earlier walked in.
“Is time,” Alison said she was wearing a black dress that came to just above she knees, the bright red turban wrapped tightly round her head complimented the plain design of her dress. The old woman was wearing a white dress with red pin strips on it and a black turban that looked like it was twice as big as Alison’s.
“Dis me aunt,” Alison said, bobbing she head in the direction of the woman, the woman smiled a very small smile and before I could ask any questions Alison reached over and turned off the light. The sudden darkness startled me and I had to follow the silhouette of the two women as they walked into the other room. The sent of the incense was not as strong as it was earlier in the day and only the candles burned casting ghostly shadows across the room, I walked cautiously keeping an eye on them bloody dolls.
We quickly went through the room and out the back door, the night air was cool and refreshing lifting some of the anxiety I felt in the house. Me toes sank into the moist mud making me realize that I had forgotten to put on me shoes so I stopped, but the women kept on walking.
“I have to go back,” I said, as I turned and ran back to the house. I stumbled through the candle lit room, I swear man, one of them bloody dolls winked at me. I went into the bedroom and I did not stop to find the light switch, I just fumbled round in the dark until I found me shoes, ran back to where the women stood waiting their body’s mere shadows in the sliver moonlight. They began to walk as I came out the door and I had to put on me shoes while on the run, breathing hard stumping me toes on rocks that stuck out on the path, good lord, I wish them two witches would slow down, I mean, here I was falling all over the place and they do not even care. They pressed on like soldiers on a life or death mission.
The wind grew stronger as we went higher up the hill, the trees swayed like crazy and those tall bamboo trees howled like hungry wolves. The path suddenly changed and I found meself stumbling downward, the sound of fire filled the night and dark clouds of smoke floated into the air just ahead, the moon changed from a silver colour to gray as the smoke covered it. Then I heard the drums it was a slow deliberate rhythm that seem to resonate through me body. The path came to an abrupt end and we walked onto grass and the sound of the drums was replaced by the murmuring of people, sweat rolled down me face and I shivered a little in the cool night air.
The two women walked faster and I had to jog to keep up with them. We came into a clearing where people stood round in a big circle with a huge bonfire in the middle. I stopped, what in the hell was that fire for? Sparks flew into the air and into the crowd causing them to scatter in all directions. I was surprised at how many people were there, they stood anxiously waiting for the ceremony to begin and to me discomfort they all turned and looked at me as I walked into the circle. A sense of panic went through me god help me, cause me fate was sealed for sure. I looked round at the people, were they all here to see me ceremony or was it normal for so many people to attend these things. In their eyes I saw how important this was to them, I mean, here I was a lost soul being brought back to the fold an educated fool who needed to be taught the ways of his ancestors, for the first time in me life I saw how strongly these people felt bout they beliefs.
Alison and she aunt had disappeared into the crowd and I found meself standing alone among all these strange people. They talked among themselves occasionally casting glances in me direction, man, I was so uncomfortable me knees felt like they was rubber, here were these people true believers and here I was a skeptic, a desperate man looking for some consolation after realizing that there are some things in the world that he had no explanation for. Some of them smiled at me I bet they knew me grandmother after all she was well known in these parts as an accomplished healer.
I walked across the middle of the circle trying me best to avoid the sparks coming from the fire, I walked into the crowd on the other side and tried to lose meself in them they parted, giving me room to get by, the men shook their heads and the women smiled as I went by. Suddenly the drummers picked up they beat and the crowd became more excited, oh hell, looks like the ceremony was bout to begin.
There was no question at all that the front house belonged to Alison’s grandmother because bright colours distinguished it from the other two. The front door was painted in yellow and the frame in bright blue, the bright green roof shimmered in spots when the descending sun seeped through the trees round the house. I got off the bike and walked up the pebble-stoned walkway to a small wooden gate, I mean, what kind of strange people were they? No fence round the house just this bloody wooden gate. I shook me head and pushed open the gate and walked up three concrete steps, stumbled and almost fell into the door, damn steps was too small for me size seventeen shoes. I looked up at the door, there was a red cross painted on the middle of it and I leaned forward trying to get a better look at it, I remembered me grandmother telling me that some obeah priests used goat blood to paint crosses on they doors something to do with Passover I believe. Hesitantly I ran me fingers along the smooth surface when suddenly the door opened and I found meself looking up into the eyes of an old lady, she was wearing a gray dress the coarse material brushing against me face as a gently breeze escaped from inside the house.
“Wey you want?” she barked. I straightened up but still did not say anything I was vexed with meself, I mean, it was just a bloody old lady.
“You ah dummyboy?” she demanded a large mole on she bottom lip moved up and down when she spoke.
“I am Alison’s teacher,” I said, me voice a whisper. “She said I should come here to get help.” She eyes never left me face and for a moment she did not seem to know what the hell I was talking bout. I started to speak again but she raised she arm stopping me.
“Don jus stand dere, come in,” I got to me feet and followed she inside me heart pounding and me mouth suddenly dry. Before I could compose meself she disappeared into another room and I was left standing alone.
I sat down in the chair nearest to me wondering where the hell that damn woman went. There was incense lit in every corner of the room, teardrops oozed out the side of me eyes and rolled down me cheeks and I shut me eyes then open them trying me best to clean them. The chair poked into me skin and I looked down it was made out of Bamboo, now who in they right mind would have old bamboo furniture, I mean, the damn thing felt like I was sitting on needles or something. I cursed a little and slowly I shifted me position trying to make meself comfortable.
I looked round the room but I could not tell what colour it was because the smoke settled on the walls creating a black, gray cloud. There were dolls everywhere and the shadows on their faces made them look almost life like as if at any moment one of them would stand up and start a frigging conversation with me. Right then I wanted to get up and run but I told meself that everything was cool runnings so I settled back down. The curtains on the lone window shifted as the early evening breeze pushed it; I mean good lord, what have I gotten meself into? Alison materialized out of the smoke startling me, man, I need to stop talking to meself so much. She body made a pathway through the thick smog as she stopped in front of me smoke whirled round she then dissipated in the breeze.
“You all right Mr. Dickens?” She asked bending over and looking into me eyes.
“Yes, I am fine,” I replied, brushing away a teardrop that rolled down me cheek.
“Come on den, Ah go show you to you room.” I got up and followed her to a door that seemed to appear at the side of the room me water logged shoes squeaking as we went. I stepped through the door into a Victorian looking bedroom, I tell you what, the difference between this room and the one I just came from was like night and day. There was a huge window that took up one side of the room, a cream coloured laced curtain hung from it barely touching the floor, a mahogany dresser stood at the foot of the bed and on top of it were pictures of Alison, so I walked over to the dresser and looked at the black and white photographs. There was two of her as a baby and one of her when she was still a pupil at the small Primary school just a short distance up the road. There was a jewelry box over flowing with bracelets and necklaces, Jesus, did she think she had enough jewelry or what? I turned round in a tight circle surveying the room, surprisingly there was no smoke in there not even the sent of the incense violated the room.
“Dere is you change of clothes,” Man, I jumped so high me head almost touch the ceiling, I mean I had completely forgotten Alison was still in the room. She was pointing to a suit of clothes that lay in the middle of the bed so I walked over and picked up the garments
“Ah go come back to get you later on for de ceremony,” she said. I was still feeling the clothes not paying any attention to she at all so I was surprised when I turned round and realized the girl had already left the room.
I sat down on the bed me head started to hurt a little. I looked at the light blue paint on the walls it made the room seem brighter in the fading afternoon light.
There was a grandfather clock sitting in the far corner of the room and I watched the hands go round, I mean, I was looking at the bloody thing so long it’s ticking and me heart were beating the same frigging rhythm.
I heard a commotion in the backyard so I got up and walked over to the window, there were two roosters fighting while the other chickens scrambled round trying to get out of the way, dirt and feathers flew into the air as the two roosters tried to get the upper hand on each other. After bout three minutes of wings flying and intense clucking one of the roosters gave up and ran away its wings flapping vigorously, I chuckled to myself, run brother run before he kills you.
I opened the window and leaned out its wooden frame pressed against me elbow making them hurt a little, the late afternoon sun gave me enough light to see what the yard looked like, Aloe trees were planted along the sides of the house, it was common for Islanders to plant these trees because it was believed that they had the power to keep out evil spirits. Some people even eat the bitter plant believing that it would cleanse them, Idiots, that plant was so bitter it could make you hair stand straight on your head. The chickens had stopped milling round in the dirt and were beginning to settle down for the night, a bat flew by a mere shadow in the florescent light.
I went back into the room and sat down on the bed thinking hard bout why I was there and what good it would do for me. An owl hooted outside and I got up and began looking round for a light switch but stopped when I heard the door creek. Puffs of smoke seeped through then disappeared as it was sucked back into the other room. I waited, a dull pain in me chest as me heart rate sped up like crazy. It was just a few moments, but I tell you man, it seemed like a hundred years before an old man walked into the room surrounded by a cloud of smoke. He did not even look at me as he walked over to a chair beside the door and sat down, he wrinkled hands clasped round a homemade cane that supported the weight from he hunched over body, thick veins ran up and down he arms disappearing under the sleeves of his shirt. He dropped the cane onto the flow,
Out on the verandah, looking down at the village, listening to the birds sing, cool breeze comes in from the ocean in the distance, the sound of boys playing cricket in the pasture, a cutlass chopping down a tree, someone singing in the house next door, the flap of wings above, the sound of the wind whistling through bamboo trees, ahhhhhh a typical day in a tropical village.