Enjoy sweet mangoes from my island Trinidad & Tobago!
Piece titled: Mango Rose Size: 61 x 91 cm Artist: Tricia Trotman-Maraj Medium: Acrylic on canvas
"Mango rose, Mango vert..... I want ah penny to buy Mango rose, Mango vert, Gimme ah penny to buy..."
That was the song we sang over and over again under the shade of the tamarind tree in the school yard. It was too hot in the classroom for any work to be done, and our teacher decided that the best way to pass the evening would be to practice our song for the up-coming San-Fernando Arts Festival. It was stiff competition between the best Primary Schools in South Trinidad and we wanted to win, so despite parched throats and the blistering heat we sang as lustily as we could.
It was almost home time and we were just waiting for the school bell to ring which would signal the end of our daily sentence. For me particularly it was the perfect opportunity to dig into the large bag of mangoes that my best friend, Irma had brought from her yard for me. I had been saving it all day but the sweet smell of ripe mangoes had become totally irresistible. The bell sounded and there was pandemonium in the school yard. White Bata-soles pounded the soft asphalt as we raced down the school driveway and up the steep hill to the Southern Main Road. Half way up Terrance Street I had to stop and catch my breath. It was hard work toting a full school bag and thirty-five mangoes but I wasn't the only one struggling. Just then one of the school vans that was packed to capacity stalled on the hill and started to roll back down. I could smell the burning clutch as the engine sounded again and the van resumed its tumultuous climb. As I reached the top and rested on the cool concrete in the shade of the China man's shop a dry wind started to blow.
A raucous group of children were at Miss Linda's gate next door. She was the pholourie and tamarind-sauce lady. For twenty-five cents you could get four nice pholourie with sauce and if you had less you could just buy the sauce. My brother came running my way with a square piece of brown paper with his portion of tamarind sauce. Just as I was about to ask him for a taste he positioned his mouth and dropped a large blob of saliva in it and mixed it with his finger. Needless to say I changed my mind. I reasoned that soon our van would arrive and he would be gone in the first trip with the smaller children. I would have to wait for the second trip which would give me a full hour to enjoy my mangoes all by myself.
I sat calmly with my hidden stash and waved goodbye to my younger sibling as the van headed in the direction of the Cocoyea round-a-bout . The top of the hill was almost empty now and certainly there would be no one to beg me. I surveyed the bag and found an array of Julie, Teen, Starch, Doux Douce, and Rose mangoes. The Rose was the largest and had a pretty pink hew that demanded it be eaten right away. The first bite was an explosion of heaven in my mouth. I sucked hard on the fleshy threads but yellow juice still managed to run down my arm to my elbow, and drip on to my school uniform. I quickly flicked the excess juice away and continued to consume the sweet goodness as though there was no tomorrow. I was in paradise, so much so that I didn't even realise that he had been standing just next to me until I heard the crumple of the brown paper bag and his feet shuffling fast past me. In disbelief all I could say was, "Nah, man! Is thief, you thief my mango?" just before I took off behind him.
He started running in a zig-zag fashion back and forth across the road like a jack-spaniard about to sting. With half-sucked mango in hand I chased him like a mad bull. "Thief my mango? He mad!", was all I could repeat. I thought about what I would do when I caught him but he was fast and that made me even more agitated. He started laughing and put a big bite in one of my mangoes mid-run. Tears came to my eyes because I was damn vex. I stopped and looked at him. He stopped and looked back at me from the other side of the road. There was mango juice all over his mouth and he continued to taunt me as he sucked it and waved back at me with a stupid grin on his face.
I don't know where the strength or the speed came from but before he could blink I was across the street and on top of his chest. The shocked expression on his face told me that he knew he was going to get it good. The bacchanal that ensued caused a large crowd to gather and Miss Linda to run out of her yard and shout, " Why allyuh chiren doh behave allyuh self! I will send and call the principal if allyuh don't cut this chupidness out right now!"
The thought of getting strokes from Mrs Waterman in front of the entire school was enough for me to come back to my senses. I got off the foolish boy and he staggered to his feet. I grabbed my precious bag of mangoes which by this time was crumpled and torn in some places. I looked back at that boy named, Mario who had made my school life a living hell for years and wished that I had continued to pummel him with blows. He didn't look so much of a bully now as he teetered on one bruised leg with his shirt torn and stains on his school shorts. In one final fit of rage I lounged at him. The fear of my wrath caused him to stumble backward and fall. He rolled down Terrance Street like a crab in barrel...
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