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  • My parents bought their house in April 1967.

    You had the highway five streets to the south and sugar cane fields beyond that. Half a mile to the north would take you across three savannahs to the Eastern Main Road at the foot of the Northern Range. Beautiful... but quite a walk.

    I walked that half mile stretch thousands of times over. Barefooted, the pitch burned my feet and as I looked to the "S", the bend in the road, I could see the rainbow heat dancing above the asphalt up ahead. The "S" I reckon was created to slow cars in what was now a residential area. I reached Orange Grove Road and I stepped onto the edge of the savannah, for there is no pavement as yet and the little, white flowers with the yellow centre, spill over. I don't know what they're called but they look like chamomile. My feet cool in the grass.

    My first experience of Phagwa was in this savannah; unsupervised, squealing kids, we went with empty dishwashing liquid bottles because they have the squeezy top. None of us had abir but once we got there, the fuschia dust was all over and everyone was willing to share. Mixed with water and there was an explosion of colour to celebrate the onset of Spring. (I never understood that at my age, considering there is no Spring in the Caribbean) The Indians who came as indentured labourers ensured they kept their traditions though. Someone's got to celebrate Spring, then. May as well be us.

    Holi! We were brought up Catholic and my neighbours were Anglican. Phagwa is a Hindu festival. This is how we roll in Tacarigua. Nobody cares about your religion or ethnicity.

    We stopped by the wooden shed on the corner of what would become the bus route and Orange Grove Road and we called out to the vendor. We called him Halla; my father called him Uncle and he sold fruit and vegetables. Nothing like the stalls you see here in the UK, no; Halla put this shed together himself and did not have a wide array of anything in particular. Halla was there from as long as I can remember but he was gone the moment his last child graduated from university in Canada. I did not realise that such a small, broken down, frugal stall could bring that kind of income. It was more his commitment than anything else I guess.

    Once, on the way back from our many adventures in the savannah, one of my brothers started to harass some cows in one corner of the field. Cows. Are. Agressive. When. Provoked.

    RUN!!!

    I ran and ran and thought we were going to die. Ran straight up a sand hill and to my surprise, the cow did not know what to do. We stayed on that sand hill until the farmer came to get his cow. Yep. We were on that sand pile forever.

    Life was our Orange Grove savannah. I can smell the mud that my shoe got caught in when I was chosen to be the mascot for our football team.

    Tringrove.

    My neighbour Joel made sure that when we were not in school, all the kids were occupied with sport. No one paid for anything. Just one day, another neighbour was taking my measurements and there I was now standing in my savannah with my yellow and black outfit. The feathered bandeau was supposed to be on the top of my head but at the time, I was obsessed with Linda Carter's Wonder Woman character and insisted on wearing the bandeau on my forehead. I proudly marched our crap football team around the Eddie Hart part of the savannah and I kept stopping to fix my shoe because the mud kept trying to claim it. When we came to our final places, Eddie Hart himself came to me and asked my name and if I was having a good time....or something like that. A journalist was taking notes beside him and they were taking lots of photos. I didn't care what was going on to be honest. I just loved the fact that I was wearing a bandeau on my forehead, I was Wonder Woman and my feet had the cool savannah mud that was now beginning to cake. I told the journalist my name was Ping (well, that's what they called me at home). I completely forgot my first name was actually Anne. My father has that newspaper article somewhere in his house.

    He keeps everything.

    I called him to ask if he knew they were planning to develop the savannah into a concrete jungle. I say develop but in development there is regression.

    Another "sporting" fiasco.

    The last remaining green life in Tacarigua that gave ME life is to be no more.

    He is now 80 years old and he said, "It's not just a savannah...it's a watershed. There will be flooding. They already have the Centre of Excellence in Macoya which is a five minute drive and netball courts and all that in New City, just on the edge of the savannah. It really isn't necessary. It's not needed."

    "I think it's in that very savannah that Angelo found the 18th century coin." I remarked.

    "Who?"

    "Angelo, the historian chap."

    "Oh ho."

    "At least I think it was our savannah. My memory is fading like the landscape."

    "Today is Phagwa."

    "Don't make joke..."
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