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Memories of Rural Saturdays

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As I sit here on this tranquil Saturday my mind goes back to a time now long gone when I enjoyed many Saturdays not unlike today. Saturdays were always s a time of simple fun and happiness that made one realize the blessedness of being alive. This was especially true if you were a pupil in achool and went to church on Sundays. Saturday was basically the only day of the week that a young person had as their own free time.

Because we lived in a farming community on a post-colonial island, it had become the norm for the mothers or housewives in the village to go into the capital city every Saturday to sell the produce from the family farms. It was the traditional duty of the men or fathers in the family to work the lands on weekdays and the women go to the markets on Saturdays.

And so the journey would begin very early on a Saturday morning. One of the reasons for this was that transportation in those days was really limited; oftentimes it was only one wooden bus or minivan that had to to make several trips to carry all the women to the city. Because the market would open quite early, at about 6 AM, and it was the person who was early would get the best selling spaces, competition was stiff for catching the early worm.

So we would get up while it was still dark and carry the ground provisions, which we called “load,” out to the road or, frequently, to the nearby village. After mommy was gone we would all go back home. Daddy would usually go to the mountain farm lands as usual. So al the children would be left at home on their own. My only big sister would wash the family laundry and cook. The washing in the early days was done at the village river where the other daughters of families would also gather. It used to be really fun and playful.

I remember that my older siblings would put me and a neighbour’s daughter into a container made from hardened plastic that we called a “banana box” and placed the box in the river. In those days the river would be stopped or dammed so that we had what we used to call a “deep hole.” It was here that much of the frolic took place.

Eventually the washing would finish and all families would head back home where preparations for lunch were being made. Our Saturday lunch would often be a cook-up or “boileen” where bananas, dasheen, eddoes, yam, pumpkin, dumplings, and corn pork would be brought together in a smooth sauce-rich dish.

It was on Saturdays too that my brother and I were asked to go to the area post office. This we looked forward to because we would often embark on our own childhood adventure afterwards, especially if there were no mail to bring back home. With our hands free we would roam the length and breadth of surrounding villages, raiding mango or other fruit trees. If rain was falling we would run full tilt in the stinging rain, eyes and mouth wide open.

There was a time when the homemade wooden scooter was the in-thing. Although mommy had said not to go riding, my brother put me on a scooter belonging to one our neighbour’s children. We lived in the middle of two steep hills. As we proceeded down the hill below us, my brother voiced alarm that the brakes were not working. He tried to bank the scooter only to send us both skating down the hill. The result was that I got a fine “pork” or bruise on my belly. When I looked it was literally white meat being seen. Not even any blood as yet. Then the stinging started. I had to bear the pain in silence for the rest of the day. Once our parents had found that out it would have been licks like peas.

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