Grandma laughs her cute laugh that makes her head lean to the side and top lip stretch over her top teeth. Her eye-glasses slip down her nose a little. The frame is brown like her shoes, and the lenses are clear because she’s always cleaning them with her white handkerchief with the green embroidered edges.
I’m straining to understand Brother Farquharson. He speaks very fast, and his mouth is mashed like Grandma’s own when she takes out her teeth to brush them.
“So yuh nuh hear wha’ happen las’ night, Miss Pearlie?”
“What happen, Brother Farquharson?”
“Half dozen a di goat dem nuh get weh.”
“What yuh saying to mi?”
“S’mady nuh leave di gate opin, ma.”
“Yuh sure is not tief dem tief dem, Brother Farquharson?”
“A dat did cross mi mind firs’. But den me an’ Tallman gu dung a bush and find two. Di odda four reach clear a Leakey yaad. Miss P, one breed a chubble fi ketch dem! Leakey haffi come out come help wi. Shoob wi haffi shoob dem inna fi him van an’ carry dem up.”
“So you up whole night.”
“Missis ma! ‘Bout four hour sleep mi mussi get. Anyway, Miss P, mi a gu dung a yard yah. Curry goat and mannish wata likkle more.”
“Yuh kill goat already?”
“Yes man! You an’ di pickiney dem a come?”
“Brother Farquharson, you know dat can’t miss me”
I used to enjoy Brother Farquharson’s mannish water until I asked Grandma what the curl-up, curl-up things in the bottom of the cup were, and she told me tripe. I vomited. Miss Becky, his wife, had to draw mint-leaf tea for me.
We step up and enter church through the cherry-wood, accordion doors at the side. All are wide open to let in the breeze. Grandma says the stone walls were erected by missionaries in the 1800s. Only the office is new.
The old section, where the altar is and the congregation sits, looks old but smells like polish. Every Saturday, Cousin Rose wipes the terrazzo tiles, and Miss Ruby wipes down and polishes the furniture.
The pews are sturdy and hard and have hymnals underneath. I think the missionaries sang from these hymnals because they smell musty, the spines are frayed and a few are missing covers and pages.
Grandma finds a seat near the front under a fan and rests her bible and clutch purse on her lap. I sit beside her and put my handbag on my lap. Justin sits beside me.
The fan feels nice. It’s hanging from a beam in the ceiling and spinning rapidly. American and Jamaican soldiers replaced the zinc roof and installed the fans last month. Grandma took me and Justin to watch because we were excited to see what soldiers look like. One told me he was from Nebraska. I asked him if he knew my mother in Delaware. He said no, and that Nebraska was a good distance from Delaware. But he promised to mail my letter once he got back to the USA. I want my mother to see my join-up writing. Grandma says I should call it cursive.
“Justine? . . . Justine? . . . Justine?”
“Mind yuh neck crick. What is up in the ceiling?”
Grandma Pearl gives me and Justin an icy mint from her purse.
©Dionne Brown 2016
Had ‘chubble’ understanding Brother Farquharson and Grandma Pearl’s dialogue? A literal translation is below (and I do mean literal 🙂 )
“Morning, Brother Farquharson!”
“What a way you pretty in a the morning here!”
“So you no hear what happen last night, Miss Pearlie?”
“What happen, Brother Farquharson?”
“Half dozen of the goat them no get away.”
“What you saying to me?”
“Somebody no leave the gate open, ma.”
“You sure is not thief them thief them, Brother Farquharson?”
“Is that did cross my mind first. But then me and Tallman go down a bush and find two. The other four reach clear to Leakey yard. Miss P, one breed of trouble to catch them! Leakey have to come out come help we. Shove we have to shove them in a his van and carry them up.”
“So you up whole night!”
“Missis ma! About four hour sleep me must be get. Anyway, Miss P, me a go down to yard here. Curry goat and mannish water little more.”
“You kill goat already?”
“Yes man! You and the children them a come?”
“Brother Farquharson, you know that can’t miss me.”