A Children’s Story by Kelly-Anne Joseph and the Create Caribbean team.
My grandma Magdalene is turning 100 years old tomorrow. I am very excited. My Nana is my favourite person in the whole world. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mum and I would drive up to Delices and spend every birthday with her at the nursing home.
For the first time ever, grandma told me what she wanted for her birthday. “All I want for my 100th birthday is for you to know about my ancestors, my mother and father and my life as a young girl.”
I was confused and so I asked, “But Nana, don’t you want a party?” Nana looked at me and smiled. “I’m 100 years old sugar, I fall asleep while taking a bath, I won’t make it through a party.” I threw my hand up bursting out in laughter.
“Alright Nana, anything for you, I would love to learn about my family and your past.” Nana nodded and fell asleep.
Next morning, I woke up at 6 a.m, I could not wait to go see Nana. I rushed into mummy’s room waking her. She yelled, “What’s wrong Magda?”
With a smile as big as the sun, I exclaimed, “It’s Nana’s Birthday! It’s Nana’s Birthday!” she shook her head and shot back “I know Magda” “Let’s go see her mum, Now!” Mummy threw her hands up, surrendering, and got out of bed.
I ran to the car and mummy followed carrying a box, nicely wrapped in her hand. “That’s for Nana” I thought to myself.
On the way to Delices, I thought of all the cool things that Nana did as a little girl, I got even more excited. When we arrived,I quickly grabbed my chair and sat next to Nana, she looked different, she looked energetic. Maybe the thought of telling me this story makes her happy, I said to myself.
I was so excited, it felt more like Christmas to me when she began. “As you already know, I was born in the beautiful village of Delices, the name originated from the French word délices meaning delight, I was the granddaughter of a run-away slave and my grandfather was a slave master.” I gasped “Really, Nana?” “Yes” she replied.
“Life was tough for my mother who was raised right after slavery ended, but she tried to give me everything. My father was a descendant of one of the colonial families from England and I did not really know him.”
“My father was not in our lives and so we had to fend for ourselves. My mother was a farmer and so every Saturday since I was 9 years old, my mother and I would make our way out of Victoria, cross the White River and walk all the way into Roseau passing many villages along the way, to sell food and walked all the way back when we were done.”
I was shocked, “Nana! Delices is so far from Roseau! How on earth did you walk all that way, while carrying food?” Still in shock, I patted Nana on the back, recognizing how hard she worked. She replied, “We had to, Sugar. That was the only way we knew how to make a living.”
I was in awe as Nana continued her story. “It was hard work, but I enjoyed it. I made friends along the way, people were nice enough to help us carry our load and some people were not.”
“What do you mean, Nana?” I asked. “Well, the unkind people took our load and ran off, most likely to sell as their own.”
“Well that was not very nice. Did things like that happen often Nana?” I asked.
“No,” she replied. “People were generally nice and helpful. The people who stole were lazy and did not want to work, they waited in the bushes then attacked. They usually stole meat from travellers. Come on Sugar, stop interrupting. Let’s continue,” she commanded, but smiled all the same.
“Visiting hours end in ten minutes,” a voice called.
“It’s time already!” I thought to myself.
Nana continued, “On the way to Roseau, we stopped in different villages, to rest and refresh ourselves.” “Where did you stop Nana?” I asked. “Perdis Temps, Pichelin, Bellevue Chopin” “Wow, I know all those places Nana!” I shouted. “the roads were not as good back then so it was very difficult to get to some places, some areas were merely tracks.”
“So Nana, were people in the town, different from people in the village?”
“In a way, yes, they were much more civilized or so I thought at the time, especially those who came to buy the food from us. They were fair in complexion, dressed well and had money. In my child’s eye they were superior. And so they came to buy our food at the Old Market.”
“Do you know where the old Market is, Magda?” Nana asked me.
“Of Course Nana, it is opposite the Royal Bank on the Bayfront” “That’s right Sugar!” I smiled and looked at the clock. It was 2 minutes till closing, I was worried that Nana would not have time to tell me everything.
She saw the worry in my eyes and said “Don’t fear Magda, we can finish the story another day.”
I grinned, “I love you, Nana.” As I looked up, I saw the nurse approaching. It was time to go.
On the way back to Roseau, Nana’s story was running through head, and as we passed through different villages, I reminded mummy that Nana passed here on her way to selling food.
After the tenth village, Mummy shouted, annoyed, “I know Magda! she told me the story as well.” I stayed still for a while, and before I drifted off to sleep, I requested from mummy that we go see Nana tomorrow, before she could reply I was asleep, dreaming about Nana’s story.