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Election Day


A fictional series

Last week:

…That day, under the plum-rose tree, when Christopher had revealed that he was going to Canada; became a distant memory…

…I had joined our local library and had read practically everything I could get my hands on….

….The rude awakening came when I picked up my common entrance results and realised that I had barely passed…

“Mammy ah want to do over my common entrance.”

…Almost exactly a year later, I arrived at school to collect a second common entrance result. As soon as I walked into the compound I was summoned to the Head teacher’s office…. His name was Mr Otley….{{more}}

“Have a seat,” he had commanded in a no-nonsense tone. As I had sunk into the chair my heart had had sunk into my lower intestines.

“Kita, I called you into this office today; because you have done something that no one else in the history of this school had managed to accomplish.” He gave emphasis to every single syllable.

I continued to gaze at him with wide, frightened eyes….

I had been baptised and raised a Catholic but we hardly ever went to church. My cousin from Buccament, who was a Seventh Day Adventist, came to stay with us for a few days. She invited me to her church. I agreed but felt compelled to explain that I was Catholic. She smiled.

“Yeees father that is true,” she chanted with a chuckle. I knew the joke she was referring to and I felt slightly offended – which was strange, considering I had not been to church since last Christmas and did not normally feel any great amount of allegiance. Still it was part of my identity. When I was filling out my college application, I put Catholic for the religion question.

Yes I was thinking about college! Four years had come and gone since the day my principal, Mr Otley called me into his office to inform me that I had come first in common entrance. I had been in the newspaper and received a scholarship to help me with my education costs.

Mammy had sobered up enough to drag me around the village telling everyone that “she daughter going to be a dactor someday.” For a moment, there had been a ray of hope… the possibility of a real mother emerging. But as the weeks went by and my stardom faded, so did she… back into the clutches of the green, bushy monster: the drug that had become her master.

I tried not to care. I treated the disappointment like a bothersome fly, shooing it out of my mind…. Didn’t have time to wallow in self pity…. No! I had more important things to attend to – like making sure that I remained top of my class.

When I started going to Kingstown High, I felt like a vagrant at a royal ball; but rather than hampering my progress these feelings of inferiority became like tiny, single minded formula-one drivers, in the seat of my determination.

Every term I stood proudly in assembly and listened to my name being announced for first place. Every achievement propelled me to greater excellence.

It was not easy though. I was sharing a room with my brother and a house with drug addicts; but I made use of library facilities: after school; at lunch and break time.

I could never afford the luxury of bread and chicken and Ju-C for break. Sometimes I would even have to go without lunch; but this never deterred me. I would sit in the library with my acidic, bawling belly and lose myself and the hunger in the pages of my books.

Last holiday, I got a job with one of the Syrian stores. I saved every cent that I could. Now I make sure me and Hezron get lunch every day. The money would soon run out; but Christmas is around the corner and they promised to take me on again.

So, anyway, my cousin Karen invited me to church and I almost didn’t go after her silly comment; but I had already said yes. The Tuesday night I put my books aside and went.

The church was packed to the point that people were spilling out onto the porch. We stood outside but we could hear the vigorous clapping and the hearty rendition of ‘Jesus is the winner man’.

“Kita yo shouldn’t be standing outside here, yo ah visitor. Lemme fine a seat fu you.” It was one of the ushers, Miss Jones, who lived just above us on the hill.

The church was the only one in the valley and it felt like everyone had joined it at one time or the other. Some stayed and became stalwart members; many strayed after a few months – unable to abide by its strict moral codes. I think I might have attended one or two of their Saturday evening programs when I was little; but I had never gone back. This was partly because it was very near the site of the accident that took my brother and almost took me and partly because I had just never really been interested.

However, I remember this night with crystal clear clarity; because as I was about to follow Miss Jones into the church, I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and all the sounds faded and time paused… I couldn’t believe my eyes….

More next week….