Big up Mah Pearl Shop and Ras Perry
Three weeks ago ah made ah long overdue trip to North Leeward, Troumaka to be exact. At de Troumaka to Rose Hall intersection, we were greeted by ah Spiritual Baptiste Sister from Rose Hall, dressed in her blue and white Pointer outfit, head-tie and sash; armed foh war-fear wid her Bible and Flowers in one hand and ah Bell in de other. She was given ah Message in her sleep and Troumaka cross road was her first stop. Ah doh know if her vision was triggered by de ravages of Hurry Cane Dorian, but “De Master sent her to warn us “dey was going to be Flooding!” Suffice it to say, it rained “Cats’n’Dogs” dis week, so much dat de SDA school in Buccama was flooded and closed foh ah day.
De whole ah Leeward was hot like ah bakery oven, could be de Marry Warner ten-shun or Ah-ten-shun, so Ko-jah, one ah my ‘Tour Guide’ suggested we took ah ‘drinks break’. Kojah, ah former Troumacanian, moved around like de Mayor. He’s ah mistr everything, Kaisonian, Journalist, still fondly remembered by his villagers as de Original Rasta; He led de way to Mah Pearl’s shop, ah typical traditional village shop dat sells every-darn-thing: rice, flour, sugar, bread, salt and salf-fish, cooking oil, Alcolada, soft grease, aspirin; of course frozen back ‘n’ neck and drum sticks. She still uses her ole time scale on top de counter to weigh everything, so everybody could see dey Justice foh dem-self, is like what yuh see is what yuh get. We had de coldest drinks in months. Which reminds me of de time PM Cato at ah meeting in Bagga, was offered ah cold beer from ah shop; impressed, Cato congratulated de shop keeper foh selling de coldest beer in de ‘hole’ island. Sharp like ah razor, de shop-keeper replied: “Thank you Boss, dat is because dem beers in de fridge foh weeks, nothing nar sell.”
Kojah asked foh fresh Farine, surprisingly dey was ah full 50 pound sack. When ah asked way dat came from, Mah Pearl told Kojah, who was treated VIP style, like de returning prodigal son, to take me downstairs on ah tour.
Was downstairs ah met Ras Perry, Mah Pearl’s son, ah humble Brethren to reason wid. Gave me ah couple bars of ah Kaiso he sang some years ago in de North Leeward Kaiso Tent, it was banned, didn’t sound Lie-bell-us to me. But he is now ah small Businessman, Cassava Farmer/Farine Manufacturer. He was seated between ah copper (large baking pot used in de days ah Sugar) and his locally made Mill, ah device built by Ocar’s Machine Shop at Belair. A simple, but functional gadget, wid ah grater driven by an electric motor on ah stand. Ras Perry was actually at work, comfortably scraping ah sack ah Cassava Rhizomes that he was about to grind. De cleaned Cassava Roots are to be ground into “bitty”, ah pulp or paste; He will den bag de pulp in ah sack, place ah heavy weight to squeeze or separate de juice, ah bitter mix that is actually starch and water, supposedly poisonous; however, long ago de starch was actually extracted from dat mix, dem days we had “Our-root Starch as well as Cassava Starch; Today, despite de millions spent on Our-Root, we can get Neither in de shops.
After squeezing process, de moist stuff, Perry puts it to dry in de open sunlight. De final stage would be de actual baking of de dried meal in de Copper or make-shift oven. Heated of course by wood fire, getting rid of all moisture to reach de real produce: Voila, Farine! ah fine/refine powdery Organic Cereal. It’s nutricious; ah health food with Vitamins B, C, Magnesiun, Potazzium, rich in Fibre, more fibre dan all de imported Oats, Barley, Corn Flakes, etc. Our Local Vincy Farine is an instant food, could be used foh tea, bruck-fuss and dinner; wid milk as cereal, wid fish braff or soup foh lunch or dinner; no better snack dan Farine, grated coconut and sugar. Ah detect ah taste ah grated coconut in Ras Perry’s Farine. But my favour-it is wid Avocado.. “Farine ‘n’ Zabacca!”
So nuff Respects to de Brethren, Ras Perry! He ploughs! He plants! He reaps! He cleans! He grinds! He bakes! And he makes, Farine Flour! He is ah Humble Nay-shun Builder. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.