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Caribbean Story Part 3: Change Happens

Caribbean Story shares memories of a Caribbean writer, including bits on parenting and other lifestyle aspects influenced by the culture.

Caribbean Story features the nurture and influence of Miranda Davis' grand-mothers. Part 1 introduces her conception in a disadvantaged household. In Part 2, an adult Miranda recalls events that transpired before she was born, as told to her by her mother and grandmothers. In this episode, baby Miranda is born and another significant change happens.

Characters In Order of Appearance

CharactersRole / Relation to the Baby

Mattie Spooner

Paternal grandmother

Myra and Mona Spooner

Mattie's daughters, baby's aunts

Manny Spooner

Mattie's son, baby's father

Janie Davis

Mother to the baby's mother, Lulu

Henry and Josie Davis

Lulu's siblings, the baby's aunts

The Spooner's Household

Caribbean folks do not force an adult child out of the house, except he begins to “play man” or she begins to “play woman” in disregard of the parent’s authority. As long as the young adults abide by the rules of the house and cooperate with the family agenda, they can remain at home until they get married, migrate or make their own decisions to leave.

It is not surprising then, that Mattie Spooner’s three adult children still lived with her. Myra, age twenty-five, worked as a housemaid for the City Bank manager from England. Mona, twenty-one cared for the children of a City Grammar School teacher, also from England. Manny, age nineteen worked as a general laborer at the City Sugar Factory. Mattie was married, but soon after Manny was born, her dark-skinned husband migrated to another island convinced that the infant was too light-skinned to be his child. He never wrote to Mattie, but his daughters occasionally received letters with American dollar bills included.

Credit: Epack Polymers Pvt. Ltd.

Credit: Epack Polymers Pvt. Ltd.

The Spooners of Tamarind Alley were better off than the Davises of Seaside Village, and were considered a class above them. Their house, made from lumber, was painted inside and out, and sported a verandah. Their living room had ample seating accommodation and their dining room had a table, around which they actually sat to eat. Matronly Mattie had her own bedroom and the handsome, popular Manny had his. Her two glamorous daughters shared a room.

Manny’s level of luxury compared with Lulu’s stifling living arrangements (described in Part 1), and his light complexion compared with Lulu’s dark skin were enough to render him too good for her. In the absence of racism, classism could be almost as dangerous.

Easter Tidings

On Sunday April 6, 1947, Mattie Spooner and her children were seated for their Easter Sunday breakfast when they heard a knock at the door. Mona reluctantly pulled away from the sight and scent of fried johnny cake and stewed saltfish to answer the visitor.

It was Janie Davis. “Good Morning, Miss Mona. Please tell you all mother that I gone to get the midwife for Lulu.” She left.

Mona called after her. “Tell Mamma, or tell Manny?”

“Child, don’t bother me. Tell whoever want to know.” Janie did not have politeness on her mind.

Mattie pushed away from the table to run after Janie. Manny also left, but not even he knew where he was going. Myra and Mona were not vested enough to forsake their food.

Credit:  Jehan Can Cook

Credit: Jehan Can Cook

“Tell me why Manny went down to Seaside Village.” Mona managed between chews.

“To see Lulu?” Myra laughed out loud and eventually choked.

Mona was serious. “He could choose from so many girls in Sandy Town (general area including Tamarind Alley, Seaside Village and other nearby vicinities), and so many of them like him. Lulu doesn’t even talk to us.”

“I bet she talked to Manny.” Myra was still giggling.

“This is not funny, Myra. Are you planning to go down to Seaside Village to see Manny’s child?”

“It’s an Easter baby. That's a good enough reason to go, just in case you could think of other reasons not to."

The Main Event

Janie and Mattie walked together down the dusty dirt road toward the thatched house where their grandchild would be born. The midwife had sprinted past them. Janie expressed her disappointment that the new housing program launched by the Worker’s League did not place her in the first batch to be moved into a government prefab home.

"You know, Miss Mattie, the social worker tell me that they had cases in Seaside Village worse than mine. She talk about a family with ten children. The oldest boy used to kneel down to sleep; he didn't have anywhere to lay down. She make me believe that it could be four more years before my turn come."

"It will work out. Don't worry."

Immediately on arrival, Janie gave her orders: “Henry, go see how the goats doing and move them around. Josie, go help him keep them together.”

There was only room for the midwife around the bed, so Janie and Mattie stayed outdoors not wanting to get in the way. They talked on and on about what the baby would need, and how they would contribute.

“So you think Manny will ever come to see Lulu?” Janie was curious.

“Don’t worry about Manny, Miss Janie. The baby will do fine."

“The devil himself” Janie squinted and pointed toward Manny approaching them on his bicycle.

“Good day, Miss Janie,” he said coyly, and the next sound was that of the baby screaming.

Credit: Sander van der Wel

Credit: Sander van der Wel

Mattie and Janie collided in the doorway, on their way to the bedroom. With a smile and a look of satisfaction, she motioned them to retreat. “The father gets the first view.”

While Janie fussed at the preference he received, and Mattie tried to quiet her, citing that she got her wish, Manny instantly became a father.

“Hush baby girl, your Papa’s got you in his arms and he loves you. You're so beautiful like Miranda (and the name stuck). I'll do whatever it takes to care for you.”

“What about the mother?” Janie tried to interrupt, but Manny was lost to every sight and sound except the bundle in his arms.

“You’ll come often to see the baby?” the midwife inquired as she took the baby from him.

“I wish she could remember me holding her.”

Suddenly

Manny rode off on his bicycle and the grandmothers got their chances to cuddle the baby. Janie and Lulu already knew that the only available space for the newcomer to sleep was between them on the makeshift bed. Mattie inquired and Lulu said she felt fine. The baby lay in a beautiful, peaceful bundle beside her.

Suddenly, shattering the peace, came a piercing holler from someone on the outside: "Miss Mattie, come quick, come quick. Manny get in a accident. He laying flat out on de street. They call de ambulance."

© 2018 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 22, 2020:

Cynthia, I'm so happy that you're enjoying the Caribbean stories. Thanks for your encouraging comment.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on July 22, 2020:

Dear Dora,

This chapter is another little gem. You have filled it with action, dialogue and tension. And then there is the cliff-hanger conclusion! Wonderful writing!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 24, 2018:

Linda, I appreciate your interest. I'm beginning to like story telling.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 22, 2018:

I'm glad I've started reading the story again. It's an interesting tale. I'm looking forward to reading Part 4 and seeing what happens to Manny.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 08, 2018:

Thanks Devika. I am encouraged by your very kind comment.

DDE on April 06, 2018:

So much to know and still you continue with your courageous stories. Simply the best and entertaining indeed!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 25, 2018:

Thanks, Manatita. Change happens when the baby is born. Conversations will be different now.

manatita44 from london on March 24, 2018:

Seemed like good food and a lot of baby talk until the accident came. Sorry about many and Easter at that.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 09, 2018:

Thanks Sam, for reading and commenting. I appreciate your humorous comments.

Sam on March 09, 2018:

Sorry for Manny. The accident took the taste of the johnny cake and saltfish out of my mouth.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 22, 2018:

Mary, thanks for following through. The mothers in this story are powerfully focused. They know what's important so their children fall in line.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 21, 2018:

Oh my...am on my way to the fourth part and excited to know what happened. I like the way the Manny and the grandmothers took this event with no regard for scandal.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 18, 2018:

Yes, Bill. An unforgettable birth date. Thanks for affirming my table of characters. Sure, try it.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 18, 2018:

GlenR, thanks for your question and for following, of course. These anecdotes are mostly true. This one about the boy sleeping on his knees is totally true. I know him, now an elderly man.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on February 17, 2018:

So we have an Easter baby. That's exciting! I'm waiting to see how this all turns out. On another note, Dora, I like the way you list the characters and their relationship to the story. I might have to try that on mine. I do believe it's helpful. Thanks again, for another great episode.

Glen Rix from UK on February 16, 2018:

Dora, is it actually the case that in the past some homes were so crowded that people knelt down to sleep? Or was the social worker exaggerating?

The food in the image looks enticing. I wish you had described what the family was eating. Perhaps we will learn about Caribbean foods later in the story?

I look forward to finding out the outcome of Manny’s collision.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 16, 2018:

Thanks, Frank. I appreciate you pinpointing what you like. Please don't be shy to say what you don't like.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 16, 2018:

I like the plot and how you playlist the characters in order Ms Dora... elegantly lucid read...

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 16, 2018:

Thanks, Eric. I appreciate your following and commenting.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 15, 2018:

Well I am in love with these families. I like passionate people. Man o Man do I hope Manny will be OK.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 15, 2018:

Thanks, Kari, for asking. My intention is to post a new episode every Wednesday. You encourage me to keep up.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 15, 2018:

Thanks Peggy for following. Isn't that the pits when negative stuff happens? Hope they'll find a way to cope.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 15, 2018:

Thanks Flourish. It takes much effort to write outside my comfort zone, but I'm beginning to enjoy it.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on February 14, 2018:

When do you think the next installment will be out? I'm caught up in this story.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on February 14, 2018:

Sweet and touching events surrounding the birth of the baby and now that Manny is finally interested, oh, no! Waiting on Chapter 4 to see what's next.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 14, 2018:

Beautiful, bittersweet and authentically communicated and felt.