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The Prank That Saved My Childhood

For the past decade, MsDora has been sharing poetry, creative writing, positive quotes, and reflections online. Her aim is life enrichment.

The Prank That Saved My Childhood

The Prank That Saved My Childhood

Cousin Moses was the model of an upright seventy-something year old man. Short in stature, he walked tall, chin up and greeted everyone with an honest-looking smile. His shirt was white, long-sleeved, starched and creaseless whenever he visited us, his country relatives.

No matter the topic on which his conversation with my grandmother began, it never ended without a scriptural debate. She always scored higher in common sense and confidence; he was the more knowledgeable, quoting and citing references in his loud preacher’s voice. Yet, they always parted as friends.

When at age nine, I earned entry into a private school in the city, my grandmother arranged for me to eat lunch with Cousin Moses and his family. Caribbean school children walked home to eat lunch, if their homes were close enough. Those who lived farther away brought their lunches to school, or walked to a nearby shop to purchase food. The lunch break lasted an hour, so Cousin Moses’ home, within a ten-minute walk from the school, was convenient for me. His son, Phil, was the same age that I was, and might even become my walking companion since our schools stood on opposite sides of the same street.


During the week before school started, my grandmother took me to visit my would-be lunchtime family. She was surprised that Cousin Moses was alone, as if he had not expected us. His wife and son had gone on a boat ride that day, and he apologized for their absence. Dressed in his usual long-sleeved white shirt, he gave us a tour of the house.

There was an attractive dining room, whereas we had only a dining area in our living room. I knew that I would like it there. The adjoining grocery shop, well-stocked though small and closed for the day, boosted my respect for Cousin Moses.

School started. That first day, I walked alone to the house and was greeted by Cousin Moses at the front of the shop. He introduced me to his wife, Lorna, a beautiful, light-skinned girl, who looked young enough to be his daughter. My grandmother would have been surprised at that too.

Lorna opened a little door at the left end of the shop counter and asked me to walk through. Cousin Moses, in a scolding tone I did not expect, informed us that my daily entry would be through the front door to the living room, never again through the shop. I passed through to the kitchen and then to the dining room. Lunch was already prepared. Phil came home soon after, and we ate together our grilled cheese sandwich, pineapple juice and red jell-o.

Tell the older men to be serious, sensible, self-controlled and sound.

Tell the older men to be serious, sensible, self-controlled and sound.

The Rituals

The next day, and every day after that, Cousin Moses greeted me at the front of the shop and walked me to the living room door. He entered first and I followed. He closed the door and positioned himself behind me. He put his hands on my shoulders and while he told me what a pretty little girl I was, how proud he was to have an intelligent cousin like me, and how much he wanted me to succeed in life, his hands glided gently up and down my bosom. I was a skinny nine-year old, so my breasts hadn’t come in yet. The ritual went on for some time, before I imagined that the way he touched me could be wrong.

His wife Lorna stayed in the shop while I was there. Except for my hello greeting and my thanks for lunch, we hardly saw or spoke to each other. Phil and I had our daily ritual too. No matter how closely we walked home for lunch, he never recognized me. We ate lunch together, had minimal conversation, and got up from the table at the same time. We left the house together, but a few steps outside the house, he would join a group of his school friends and act as though he did not know me. We never became friends, but it didn’t bother me.

The Prank

To this day, I am not sure whether Phil hated me or his mischievous mind simply made me the object of his prank. One afternoon on our way back to school, while still on the short road leading to the main, he and friends were walking behind me when he began a chant. “She’s a thief. She has my mother’s mirror. She’s a thief …” I didn’t respond at first, then he added my name.

“Stop it, Phil. I’m not a thief. I didn’t steal anything.”

Back and forth, he chanted and I defended myself, until I thought I’d put an end to it, by opening my bag. There was his mother’s mirror and I looked like a thief, thanks to the set up by Phil. When I reached home at the end of the school day, I told my grandmother about the incident and informed her that I was never going back to that house. She agreed, and so ended my six weeks of lunches at Cousin Moses’ house. My grandmother was angry with Phil for what he had done, but her love and respect for Phil’s father was still intact.

But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones ... it were better for him that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones ... it were better for him that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

The Shocker

I took my lunch to school thereafter, and I made friends among the other students who stayed in at lunchtime. The new arrangement had its benefits. We ate quickly, giving us more time to play. We could even run across the street to purchase mangoes, jawbone breakers (hard candy), and other snacks. Trading gossip was one of the more mature habits we engaged in.

One day, when the students who left for lunch returned, they brought back the shocking story which was becoming the talk of the town. Something terrible had happened to a little girl at a location not far from the school. The story tellers heard from the adults that the perpetrator had been a dirty old man who had gotten his young housemaid pregnant, and carried on the affair, eventually marrying her after his first wife died. The man had molested a three-year old girl and had been arrested.

Finally, someone knew and mentioned his name. “Who? Not my Cousin Moses” I thought. “His stature and deportment did not fit a pedophile’s profile.”

It was not the profile, but the man who went to jail. Thanks to his son’s prank, my childhood had escaped the den of the lion who pretended to be a lamb.

© 2020 Dora Weithers


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 07, 2020:

Ambrie, I never had that line of thinking until now. I appreciate that sentiment, and yes, I thank God.

Ambrie Anders on October 07, 2020:

Oh Dora. What a close call! I can only imagine how aghast, but relieved, your grandmother felt.

As it appears your young cousin had no grudge against you I too am thinking perhaps he intentionally set you up to stop you coming back to the house. Whatever his reason, thank God.

Thank you for sharing - and great writing, as always.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 07, 2020:

Anupam, martial arts really would be good training for the girls. It's a shame what happens in your country. I pray that things will change drastically for the better.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 07, 2020:

Thanks, Linda. I don't know what happened to the little girl afterwards, but I know that her sentence was heavier than the offender's.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 07, 2020:

Lora, I appreciate your input. Yes, the message is serious. We had so much trust in this old man, I never mentioned my suspicions about him to anyone.

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on October 07, 2020:

Thank God you were really saved. I wish all the girl must learn Marshal arts or something to protest such scoundrels. I feel proud when I see my girl strong enough.

I've read it in some data that US has the largest number of rapes

And India is infamous for cruel and brutal murders after rape, unfortunately, in our country there is no strict rules against rapes as in many other countries. And the government just plays nasty game with such incidents

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 06, 2020:

This is a dramatic story, Dora. I'm so glad that you escaped from this situation and so sorry about what happened to the little girl that you mention.

Lora Hollings on October 06, 2020:

The prank really did spare you from possibly a much worse fate! It's sad that many children experience molestation from adults who are supposedly friends or close relatives. Your story is very well written and has a serious message too. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2020:

Thanks, Greg. True, the "what might have beens" are still scary, and I thank God there are no worse memories concerning this incident. I appreciate your comment.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2020:

Thank you, Kalpana. So sorry about your dilemma. They say that a scar is a sign that you survived. Hope for you, it also means that you've been healed. Thanks for sharing.

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 06, 2020:

Ms Dora - the story has a happy ending, of course, but makes my stomach queasy reading it, pondering the might have beens. I’m happy for you that all ended with you safe and unharmed, but it is, as others have said, a horrific series of events. So very well written, though, and thanks for sharing in hopes that awareness might be heightened for others.

Kalpana Iyer from India on October 06, 2020:

It's a coincidence I am reading this - because I had the exact same incident with my own cousin too. But not at such a young age. I was 17 but it still left a scar, so I cannot imagine how it must be for a kid. I am glad you escaped that hell.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2020:

Peggy, I've never thought of that. You are making me rethink my attitude toward him. Thanks for your input.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 06, 2020:

You are fortunate that prank happened. That is a horrific story. I wonder if his son suspected what was happening and if that attempt was intentional to save you from harm?

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2020:

Thanks John. Your comment reminds me of the saying that bad thing happen to prevent something worse. God is good.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2020:

Thanks, Rosina. I'm happy too that I escaped. My childhood remained happy.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2020:

Mary, sometimes we want to sample other people's experience, and sometimes that serves us well. I appreciate your comment.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 06, 2020:

Wow, MsDora. You were very fortunate that that prank occurred. I am certain some things happen for a reason and God has a way of intervening even though we may not understand it at the time. Thank you for sharing.

Rosina S Khan on October 06, 2020:

Thank you, Dora, for a wonderful story. Cousin Moses' son's prank certainly helped you to escape the dangerous man's real purpose. Great writing.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 06, 2020:

What a story. One never know just by appearance what a person's character is. I am happy you escaped that. I used to envy my friends who brought their lunches to school. Sometimes, I would bring my lunch, too, eventhough I lived in the town. I always loved eating their own food wrapped in banana leaves.

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