Tag Archives: indentureship

INDIAN ARRIVAL MONTH 2008: CALL HIM THE BABU; Coolie Mother; THE BIRTH OF ROTI; Caroni ; MAHADAI DAS; The Green Face Man

This is Part 4 of series on Indian Arrival Month, May 2008, in the Caribbean.
Other Parts can be accessed here:
http://deosaranbisnath.blogspot.com


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Coolie Mother

by Professor David Dabydeen

Jasmattie live in bruk-
Down hut big like Bata shoe-box,
Beat clothes, weed yard, chop wood, feed fowl
For this body and that body and every blasted body
Fetch water, all day water like if the
Whole slow-flowing Canje river God create
Just for she one bucket.

Till she foot bottom crack and she hand cut-up
And curse swarm from she mouth like red ants
And she cough blood on the ground but mash it in:
Because Jasmattie heart hard, she mind set hard.

To hustle save she one-one penny,
Because one-one dutty make dam cross the Canje
And she son Harrilal got to go school in Georgetown
Must wear clean starch pants, or they go laugh at he,
Strap leather on he foot, and he must read book,
Learn talk proper, take exam, go to England university,
Not turn out like he rum-sucker chamar dadee.


 


 



But do not expect to find it
where its seeds were sown
In its Motherland
the curry-scented sub-continent


It was created
on an island
by its children
yearning for the homeland.


 



CARONI



a movement from a longer poem,  The Rain Suite, from

AMERICAN FALL

ISBN: 9781845230432
August 2007, Peepal Press

by Dr. Raymond Ramcharitar.
On these ululating plains, the rain is fate,
Draining the Indian’s ashes from the lips
Of the patient Caroni, to incarnate
Into the canestalks’ tasseled, sky-turned tips—
Arrows to the India of the mind.
While below, in patchworks of glistening strips
Of razor grass and dirt, board houses on stilts
Enclose the brown, work-knotted bodies,
Still-sitting, folded at the hip and knee
As primal eyes grope along the endless chains
Of the rain seeking escape, samadhi,
Inside the dank Chaguanas cinema
Where the pink, rose-lipped maidens pout and dance
 In streams and around trees—a panorama
Of sublimated lust, which spreads outward
Through the roads outside the towns, the chance
Settlements along old sugar cart-routes
where, now and then, resilient mud-spattered shards
Of humanity still walk through the downpours
Of fingers which reach under rough cotton
Like the coolie farmer’s trembling hand explores
His daughter’s taut, brown flesh to the strum
Of small bullets on the raw galvanise, to come,
Hesitantly, to a stop, as the final memory
Of the mother dissolves under the glare
Of the unforgiving sun whose gaze clears
Ruthlessly the dewy fields and glassy paths,
Silencing the rain’s many-armed history.


 

CALL HIM THE BABU
by Sasenarine Persaud

Kanhai in Calcutta and the swarm
of crowds, waves of Indian Ocean
roaring in the stands. Once Aja
stood on docks nearby, boarding
for Indies Cristobal, the Baptist
Navigator, christened this land.

 

 

Green Face Man
from THE GREEN FACE MAN

by Professor Rosanne Kanhai



ISBN: 976-620-227-3


nobody touch me, they know my skin slippery


nobody hear me, they know how I curse


nobody watch the bad eye I born.


I am the green face man
coming down, coming down
all over de town

Sugar in my blood, sugar
I plant the cane
weed the cane
cut the cane,
I grind the cane to sweeten my tea.
Sugar in my blood
I tief the cane
suck the cane,
make me faint
all that sugar not good for me.










My eyes going blind
my foot swell up
sores on my skin
my hands tremble when
I take out the cutlass
sharpen it on a stone
cut my veins
let the sugar out



I see blood flowing
more dirty than Caroni
more sacrifice than Ganges
I see splatters
from the highway to the back trace
accidents happen every day,
a whole family clean-up
trap in burglar proof
a little child hold down
two brothers break they neck
a taxi turn over
a truck run off the road
land up in somebody bedroom
I put kajar in my eye, I don’t see so good…..

 











Brechin Castle




by Madeline Coopsammy

(Trinidad , 2005)


       For Yolande Nunez

       Friend of My Youth

 

“ Brechin Castle to Shut Down”

 

This name of an unequalled music

heralding visions of the rugged Scottish landscape

of Walter Scott and Lorna Doone

of murderous feuding Clans

and the glories of an Empire

on which the sun would never set

was the misnomer for a sugar-cane plantation

in the backwaters of Central Trinidad

its coolies once fettered by

Indentureship, inheriting a legacy

more bitter than the fruit they harvested

 

One warm and lovely breezy island night

you and I, searching out a fete

on a casual invitation

as we were wont to do

were bound for

a sacred fortress

the Plantation House

of Brechin Castle

 

leaving well-worn paths behind

our familiar haunts of

Woodbrook, St. James,

Cascade and Belmont

we drove through miles of darkened canes

and approached the Castle grounds

meeting  no impediment  neither moat

 nor armoured Knights

only a sentry at a Gate

who cheerfully waved us on

for we had a password, a Manager’s name 

and your Father’s car,

an imported  American Rambler

the Mercedes in our third world economy



 

Independence had not yet come

but you with your mulatto confidence

the long history of your European ancestors

your Portuguese name

never feared to venture anywhere

you took me once on Carnival Day

into the Queen’s Park Hotel where the black waiters

viewed us with disdain, laughing in our faces

you never noticed, too busy enjoying the music and the jump up

while I was left alone to feel their scorn

for we were the only coloured people there

 

and since you always drove the car

I had no choice but  to follow where you led

 

and thus we found ourselves

in Brechin Castle

which symbolized to me

the servitude of sugar

white colonial overseers

and sweating coolies cutting cane

 

but the fete was non-existent

someone had failed to extend the invitations

or perhaps the house was subject to a boycott

 

for the elegant spacious ballroom was deserted

peopled only by

an inebriated Englishman

his wife consorting with the black

yard boy

 

in South Africa in the days of Apartheid

white women were incarcerated in Insane Asylums

for just such indiscretions

 

but our hostess welcomed us

with warmth and kindliness

and to my surprise

in excessive courtesy

graced us with a curtsey fine and practised

while I  puzzled over

this outmoded custom

which, once habitual in Victorian times

was surely now confined to

visits to the Queen.

 

but rendering such regard to us 

one a coolie woman

the other of indeterminate race

left me wordless with wonderment

 

but as the years moved on

and the world mad e room for us

that surreal night coming sharply into focus

afforded me the realization that it was already

the dying days of Empire

and our misguided hostess

an Englishwoman of a newer breed

who knew no better.

 

That was more than forty years ago

now cane will soon be gone from Brechin Castle

 the plantation houses stand stately and morose

eerie clones  of those on Indian tea estates

we drive between still lovely avenues shaded by Royal Palms

a gentle wistful breeze

fans the rolling landscape

 

what tales the land could tell

what bitter-sweet memories remain upon

the Castle grounds, the fields

of shimmering waving canes

in the noonday sun

what fate now lies in store for them

since sugar will make way for

housing, development, malls?

I shudder to return.

 

 

 

 

 











Poems by Mahadai Das
Mahadai Das was born in Eccles, East Bank Demerara, Guyana in 1954. She
wrote poetry from her early school days at Bishops High School, Georgetown. She
did her first degree at the University of Guyana and received her MA at Columbia
University, New York, and then began a doctoral program in Philosophy at the
University of Chicago. Das became ill and never completed the programme.

 

My shoes stand on a waste land
While your twisting toes squeeze in a frenzy of squelching mud
Which bears you life:
Your bleeding hands grasp roots of rice





In my fields,
and the seed of life you delved into the earth
has sprung up to mock me.


(Excerpt from Bleeding Hands by Mahadai Das)


 


 


BEAST


In Gibraltar Straits,
pirates in search of El Dorado
masked and machete-bearing
kidnapped me.
Holding me to ransom,
they took my jewels and my secrets
and dismembered me.




















 

 




















FLUTE

my body’s a hallowed
stick of bone, a flute
through which you pipe
your melody.

I am those parallel
eyes of air
along my spine,
which measure
your heavy rhythms
vibrating in my marrow.


play gentle, love
my frail reed’s
single stem
can scarcely hold
this rhapsody.


 


GRANDMOTHERS
by Sharon Sankarsingh
“Only six months more,”
my father’s mother had said
as she wasted
nineteen years moving,
between the houses
of her seven children,
from bed to board-layered
bed, onto this final woodpile
scattered with marigolds
and kerosene, roses and a pundit’s
prayer. Flames wrapped
their lascivious tongues
around her fragile lips,
powdered by a withering fire.

White cloth draped
around his austere loins,
bony chest bare,
the holy man tasted
a dribble of cow’s milk,
pure liquor
from this fertile Hindu mother.
For three days,
he prayed to the East
in the mornings,
then he sprinkled grandmother’s ashes
before Vishnu’s fire.


The ashes settled
into an elusive cat-form
upon the altar,
and the priest announced
my grandmother’s incarnation,
Vashti,
mistress of nine lives.


My mother’s mother laid
her wracked bones
four weeks
upon her extra firm mattress,
calling fifty-eight
grandchildren, twelve
children (she included the hippies
then), to her side,
marijuana smile
on her broad face.


In those last days
the soothing weed
was her only solace
for the burning pain
in her chest. It lived
between her swollen lips
through her passage
to the hard earth


in which she had toiled
knee-deep
in the cold
and mud-filled rice paddies,
through a wayward
husband, and three abandoned
grandchildren. She was a squat
woman, high cheekbones
and hard skin
remote
until the scheming sun
reached out
his lecherous hand
to squeeze her breast.
 


 



A NEW MESSIAH
by V. Ramsamooj Gosine
A Rolls-Royce messiah came out yesterday
Ordered men to shave their heads
Lie naked, walk barefoot
Purity is the essence of life. Store
Your millions in my pocket. See
No holes. Send your offsprings
For my education. I am a new birth,
The last coming. See my twisted hair
Straight nose. Let there be peace.
Let your wife be another’s.
Lie naked.
Slacken your hold.
Let freedom reign.


 

Posted May 28th, Deosaran Bisnath























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































 


 












 


_______________________________________________________
Deosaran Bisnath     May 28th, 2008


 


 

A Migrant's Cry

 


 


 


 


 


 

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