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Election Day

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A fictional series by Ava Browne

Last week:

…Here I am, at a radio station waiting to be interviewed… my very last message. I have done all that I could possible do…. walked through the villages, even in the remotest parts, holding the people’s hands. I have sat in their houses and made promises…. I have stood on the podiums and delivered messages of hope…. I have asked them to have faith in me… with only my word as evidence….

“…Kita, girl, we have hundreds for you to answer…{{more}}

…Kesta from Georgetown feels that women have no place in politics. That’s his statement and his question is why and how did you end up running for office?”

The journey question… the one that I had been contemplating in those early hours in my office… I remember my conversation with Christopher and the sacrifices I have made to be here… I remember the beginning… the very first step of that journey that was taken on that fateful day at Ride-on river….

“Kita ley ahwe go ah river nuh…”

I could remember Hezron nudging me as he made circles with his fingers in the parched dust. It was not too long after that day that Christopher, his younger brother Carl, their daddy Mike and two old suitcases turned up at the humble two-bedroom house that Mummy had inherited when her mother passed away.

We had been warned of their coming the night before.

“Mike is going to be alyo your new daddy, so mek sure ahyo listen to him,” Mammy had said to us – me and my two brothers, Hezron and Shem.

We had all nodded; but when she’d left the room Hezron had ‘stupesed’ his teeth and vowed that nobody but his daddy could tell him what to do. He’d been fiercely protective of his father – despite the fact the man had gone to Barbados and had never bothered to look back at him and Shem. Shem, as usual, had just giggled. He was only five and everything was a big joke – a defence mechanism I used to envy.

However we’d felt, we’d all known that we had no choice in the matter. The next day we’d found ourselves sharing our already crammed room with Carl and Christopher. I was nine at the time and privacy had already been an issue. Suddenly I’d had to contend with two more boys who were not even related to me. We’d known them from Valley School. Christopher was a class above me and Carl was in junior two with Hezron.

“Kita, ley we go nuh,” Hezron had persisted that fateful day, tugging at my shirt. I had sighed and closed my book.

“Why yo don’t jus go and fine Christopher an dem?”

“Me nah wan go nowhere wid dem dey. Dem ah weed man just like dem daddy. Ley Shem Gwan…” Shem had taken a liking to Christopher and had been following him everywhere. “If you go, Mammy nah go beat me…”

“Alright, me ah come,” I had said; as I ran up rackety, wooden stairs to get my slippers.

Minutes later we were jumping over church wall and running toward the clear, vibrant flow of water. We’d not been there long before we’d heard Christopher’s voice echoing in the mountain above. Soon he, Shem and Carl had come into view.

“Kita, weh yo doing here, yo done wash and cook,” Christopher had shouted with mango and mischief all over his face.

“Wey yo nah shut up!” I had retaliated and he had responded with a laugh and a whoop as he raced off the embankment and plunged into the river’s depths. Carl and Shem had followed and soon we were all frolicking in the water.

I remember I had flinched when Christopher’s cool, wet hand had touched my shoulder.

“Yo nah fine e water ah get muddy?” he had asked; prompting me to look down. I’d observed the changing colour of the water, the coconuts and other debris that had suddenly appeared; but I’d not been particularly alarmed. I had shrugged and continued playing. Christopher had stood still for a while, as if trying to sense and define any imminent danger; but then he too had dismissed the warnings and continued playing….

We were the eldest and we’d both done nothing…. I shake my head as I try to purge myself of the memory….

It’s amazing how the past can travel twenty odd years into the future and dump its pain and regret on your head. I sigh and rise from the lazy couch to turn on the tele. It doesn’t even make sense that I am so preoccupied with that day; when today is my d-day. The day voters quietly lined up at hair dressers, churches, schools, community centres … clubs and all the other venues that had been transformed into polling stations. Election Day!

This evening there were thousands of Vincentians with ink-covered finger tips and tomorrow I could be the Prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines….

My phone rings and I am sure it is a call about a result… But instead I hear Christopher’s voice coming over the line, tired and cracked.

“I’m just calling to see if you are ok,” I hear him saying.

“Christopher… please… I can’t deal with you right now…” I disconnect the call and collapse on the couch as my mind drifts again from the quiet, waiting town to that day at the river….

More next week…

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