"The chicken ran under the bed! That is it!"
"What does that have to do with the crazy woman?"
"The obeah man put the spirit in the chicken and the chicken ran under her bed whilst she was sleeping. Some other woman did do fuh she."
(No doubt, fighting over a man)
"Geez, ok and the nuns want us to go there to do what, exactly?".....
My mother was always involved in something incredible. We went to Tobago to chill out and the convent gave us sleeping quarters. I know, the same gorgeous island that Daniel Defoe described and we....ended up in a convent.
I can't recall everyone who was there, but I do remember my cousin and her boyfriend. We used to call him Rambo because he always wore a bandana, was a white Trini and had a mullet. One song constantly on the radio, was Maneater by Hall and Oates and he sang this to her every damn hour of the day. I was little, but I do remember these things.
We left Trinidad on the ferry, my mother drove her Mini onto the boat, parked in an orderly line and we then made our way up numerous flights of stairs to find any vacant spot. That boat was dangerous, especially if you had to resort to the main deck. You seriously had to hold on to your child because you could easily go over the side; and this was a very real fear at "The Bocas" where any vessel became a toy in that body of water between Trinidad and Venezuela. The journey from Trinidad to Tobago was not too bad, but coming back was a nightmare; people with all sorts of produce and I swear I saw a goat. Spiders LOVE bananas and Anne does not like spiders, especially the huntsman and wolf spider, so you were crossing over tanty's plantain and gros michel whilst doing the jig.
Hurricane Flora destroyed the first convent in Tobago back in 1962 and they re-built on higher ground....much higher ground; therefore when we got to Bacolet Hill my mother's Mini would not make it up the steep incline with all of us in the car, so we all begrudgingly got out and she alone drove to the top.
As part of our "duties" or as a form of payment, I guess, in exchange for lodging, we were asked to visit this crazy woman at the top of another hill, somewhere in the bush. You would have to ask the adults if there was any other reason for our visit, like to take something for her because I was just the youngster in tow.
It was a laborious climb AGAIN, as this was 1980s Caribbean and the path leading up to the wooden dwelling was what the villagers dug out of the hillside themselves. We got there and everything seemed fine; she greeted us and we stood just outside her hut. I really don't know what the previous concerns were about. Ok, so she started showing us how white all her clothes were. She obviously took pride in her washing. That seemed pretty normal to me. Look at this skirt and look at these sheets and.....
And the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
I could see her face morphing and it went silent around us. She squinted her eyes and her head slowly tilted to one side.
She pointed at the banana patch opposite her wooden hut and started shouting, "Look it dey!! Look de jumbie, the vengeance of Moko! De one legged jumbie!" My heart was pounding; I was so scared. I didn't want to see any jumbie! My eyes searched the banana trees. And then like lightning, she grabbed the cutlass from under the house and began brandishing it. When she turned her madness toward us, everyone began screaming and pelted down the hillside. I being the youngest, was the last person remaining at the top of the hill with the insane. I scrambled desperately behind everyone and I knew I would take a tumble down that hill.
But Rambo came for me.
My mother was nowhere to be seen (Gee, thanks Mum) hahaha. But Rambo came back. He snatched me up in his arms and I don't know how he did not fall on that steep decline.
Try getting into the backseat of a Mini, in a panic!
Cover sketch done by my dear friend, Stacey King (née Young) whom I know since childhood. She did this for me purely from my description of the location!