CAHSS Faculty Articles

Jus’ A Pinch of the Yellow Powder

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They say that is me cause that stinking boy Lucas to die, that if I was not such a malicious old woman, he would still be here on Father God's Earth. They say that what happened to him was no accident and that the way he died seems like "Other things were at work," but you listen to me and you listen good: All of the people up and down the lane couldn't wait to see him leave, but everybody was `fraid of him. Now that he's gone, they happy, but at the same time they start looking around and remembering their own misbehaving, wondering if retribution is in store for them too. Thieving Carmen start counting out the change properly for her customers when they have to run to her shop for a pound of rice or a half a loaf of bread. Mr. Joe boy not going over to Rachel's house to visit her daughter as soon as the girl's husband catch the bus and gone to work, and Miss Edith's whole heap of grandsons -- you must see how all of them look like cockroach -- stop going into people's yard at night and picking people's soursop and digging up people's yam. Everybody on the lane talking about what they think I did, might do, have done, but they don't have anything to worry about -- if they don't trouble me and mine! I have lived on this lane from before most of them were born, even help to bring a few of them onto the lane, and now they fretting sake of me. Foolishness! Pure foolishness! I hear that one woman down the lane warned her son not to "mingle" with my granddaughter because nobody knows when mighty Jehovah going to strike me or those around me -- as if God is going to send a hurricane `cross the Caribbean Sea and straight to Jamaica especially for me and not for the rest of them -- ha, ha, ha! Lord, give me strength. Well, let me tell you something, and you don't have to believe me, they have the story wrong -- it's not because of me why Lucas is gone to his grave.

So one morning when I knew that worthless boy was there, I went over to [Mitzie]'s house. I carried a pretty soursop -- my yellow yam never fit yet -- and after I gave the soursop to Mitzie, I cussed off her nephew and told him how he bring down crosses on me. Mitzie tried to tell me that she going handle it, but I had to say my piece, and would you believe what that stinking boy did? He turned `round and said to me, "Hear me now, old woman, why you don't go back over to your yard and quiet yourself? I don't want to have to do anything to you, but Jah know I can't take all your noise in my head this morning. Don't make me have to push you in front of a minibus one day when you walking home with your little market basket." All of a sudden Mitzie's two older children, who had been jumping around trying to calm us down, fell dead silent. Mitzie breathed in deep and stuttered as she told Lucas that he was not to say those kinds of things in her house. Well, would all of you believe that the dirty boy turned `round, put his hand over his aunty's face, and told her she must quiet herself? Even Mitzie's big son, who was right there, could not do a thing.

The porch was grilled with iron bars going all the way around. I walked in through the opened grill door and said morning to everybody, then I went and knocked on another door that led to the house. Nobody answered, so I cracked the door open a little and called out to Sister [Sister Hazel]. "Jus' a minute pleeeeze," she said in her nice voice. When Hazel came to the door, she was in her full white as usual, her glasses set under her turban, and she had on a red and green apron. "Miss Clarice, how you do? Long time I don't see you. Come in, man." Hazel changed to her yard voice when she saw that it was me and wiped off her hands in the apron. "Come sit down with me `round the side. I scaling some fish, but let me just tell [Lynval] that you are here." I walked behind her through the door and into her laundry. On one side was a passage that went to her kitchen and on the other side a white door that went to an addition they had put on for Lynval's office. Hazel knocked, and then she squeezed herself halfway through the door. By the time she came out, I was sitting outside in the yard at the side of the house, and had already started scaling a fish from a pile of yellow-tail snapper Hazel had in a basin.





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