“Harvest”

I am 10 years old or so…

One Sunday afternoon on the verandah

A’right, Sistah Webb.  My grandmother responds and waves from her seat on the verandah.  She engages in conversation with the churchwoman who has now stopped and is standing outside the gate.

Gone back to church?

A tidday a Harvest Sunday?

But how Fine never tell me? All that pickney do when she go a’ church is sleep! Sleep and kya-kya a de back a de pew wid dem res’ a gal pickney… A wonder when Calvary having their harvest…Natalie! Natalie!  Is when Calvary have de’ harvest again?

I slowly walk out of bedroom and stand by hallway door.

Yes, Grandma?

Harvest…Is when Calvary having their harvest, again?

Is next week. Remember I tell you last week, when Bro. Henry pass by after church?

Lawd pickney, me head a gather water in this old age.  Me n’aa member ‘bout it, sa…so you not going? What you gwen bring?

Silence.  My face resembles storm clouds gathering.   Bottom lip on its way out.

(soft voice) Last year I told you I wanted to get a long bread –the one in the red and yellow plastic paper…

The alligator bread? Then it nuh too late fi order dat now? It too late now. You ha’ fi order dat well in advance, or else you can’t get it in time.  Cause is dis ya Saturday morning you woulda ha’ fi go collect it – for the lady probably lock up shop 12 o’clock, fi go buy her market.  We can’t get that now at all.

Dark clouds are organizing themselves just so.  Top lip ready to join the bottom one.  Silence.

Gra’ama…

Gra’ama? Nuh Gra’ama me!  My name is Grand-ma.

A couple deep breaths to stem the cloudburst that will cause a tidal wave.

Grand-ma, is the same thing you tell me last year, and the year before that.  And this year I make sure I remind you way ahead of time. [pause] But you would remember if it was Tricia who did want it though!

But wait…you figetting yuhself?  Is who you talking to so? You must want you teeth end up down yuh t’roat?  A couldn’t mi you a talk to so!  You stand up deh a mek up you face. You mus’se wa’an see everybody a go a harvest and you can’t reach!

Silence.  Even the air is unsure whether to remain still in the battle zone.

A tell yuh that is figet I figet!  You can’t expect me to remember everything! Is see I see Sis. Webb mek harvest just run cross me mind.  Pickney, if mi fi memba everything whe yuh tell me seh, me nuh know how me woulda memba fi go a toilet!

Silence. Guilt seeping in and forcing cracks in the anger.  Pieces fall. More silence.

So wha you tan’ up deh fa? Come siddung and relax yuh self this Sunday evening yah.  Yuh go a church this morning.  Mek the likkle blessings take hold, nuh?

I sit down on the long chair.

She starts to sing “Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves. We shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves..”

But yuh miserable, eh? How you miserable so?  Look how you mek up you nice nice face. One a’ dem day yah yuh mouth nuh gwine go back een. Laughs.  You want you mouth stay suh? Imitates me.  Member bout the hog?  Hog ask her mumma, mumma wha mek yuh mouth so long? She say, aah mi pickney, grow come see, grow come see.  Laughs.  A so your mouth gwen stay? Like hog?

I try not to smile.  She reaches over and strokes my face.

You naa  gi’ mi a little smile. Smile nuh.  Aaayyhh. The Bennett in you strong, doh…Grandma Cora woulda love fi see you now.  A fi har mouth you have.  But you is the dead stamp of Hya in truth.  Born badlucky, that’s you.

Strokes my face some more.

Nuh mind, Miss World, nuh mind.  Tell me wha’ you want fi carry fi harvest.  Tell me nuh?

Hesitantly – I want to carry drops.

Drops?  You waan Icy make it fi you? Wid nuff ginger, don’t it? I know you like ginger.  We have some whe’ Gran’ma Cora did send come fi you.  Or you want try make it?

I want to make it.

Aaright.  If you see Piggy pass yah so tell him me wa’an see him.  Mek I beg him cut down two dry coc’nut tomorrow, so Fine can huks them and cut dem up.  She probably tell me she too busy. Chuups.

No, I wi’ cut dem up when I come home from school.

No sah, Mek Fine cut up de coc’nut. After she nah do nuthing else whey me tell har fi do! She might as well.

No, I want to do the whole thing myself.

Yes child, I know you wi do it.  You tek after mi own heart. Laughs. Just try nu fi  bu’n up yuh finger again. ‘Member last year? Mi nuh wa’an ha fi run wid you go a Cornwall Regional, you hear me? Me just wa’an mek sure sey w’en yuh modder sen’ fi you, I deliver you to har in good condition…

Yes, Grandma.  But…I don’t know what to wear….

Yuh see h’much clothes you have siddung in dey nah wear? See yah, pickney – nuh chat fa’at a mi ears, y’h!  You nuh have not a ting fi bother fi yuh head – Go fi’ n sinting wear – And bring a glass a water when you coming.

Sigh. Yes, Grandma.  I walk away.

Created on 06/10/99 11:41 PM

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