Whenever the Christmas season approaches, I always remember a particular Friday that dates back to when I was a little boy and went to the two-story white, red and color pay office.
This Friday, the last day before school closed for the Christmas season, it’s been a year since they crowned Queen Elizabeth in England and since then we had to sing “God save the Queen” every morning at the instead of “God save the King”, then after praying “O Lord, grant us this day our daily bread”, we sang “Rule Brittania, rule the waves, Britons will never be slaves…
I tell you, every manjack sings hymns and carols while Director Williams swings his cane across the stage with his eyes closed as if leading a musical choir. And don’t talk about how the choir soars high as if to rip off the rusty roof that rattles every time a strong breeze blows, while Smallie and Bertie in the back row imitate the director when the attention teacher Johnson focuses on the scene. And don’t talk about the rusty, raspy voices of Smallie and Bertie: it does sound like rubbing old rusty sheet metal on concrete. And the picknie of the fourth standard can’t scoff or laugh, otherwise it’s a dozen bakers if Professor Johnson only sees, or a dozen bakers and kneels if Headmaster Williams sees.
Also, you can’t report Smallie and Bertie mocking the director during the anthem singing, otherwise if you’re not Saltfish or Rommel for a friend, be prepared to take a beating in the afternoon of Smallie and Bertie if they get a bench from the principal or Professor Johnson. So sorry, though Smallie and Bertie and myself thick as konky, I too choke my laughter down my throat like coal as soon as Smallie and Bertie’s voice starts roaring like rusty zinc.
Well the week before friday they sting inside the light-light like they could fly like birds especially when their mind flashes on them fancy darling and hundred and jill they jam in Big Manager’s yard on that last Friday afternoon before school closed, just like when the dogs are fighting each other over food being thrown at them from the top of the porch while Missie giggles.
And once the picknies have honey, hundred and jill, they don’t care about the bruises, kicks and kicks they get during the jamming. A while the fight breaks out, but it’s all in the fun once Big Manager Missie and their other manager missie throw a hundred and jill.
Arrive thus, the reach of Friday. . . . Well, after the school roll call at one o’clock, every picknie is full of expectations. After the principal announced that the school was going to reopen on such a date after the Christmas holidays, and after he sent them a little picknie between ABC and the third standard, he shouted from the stage: “Prepare- you marching towards the administrative director’s courtyard”, as if we were a pack of mules and had to come to attention whenever the director roared, just like the way he, Urmilla and the professor Johnson snaps to attention and says “Hello, sir,” as if Big Manager is Gawd and ahwe is the servant. But in today’s school, me kids all say their mimicry and servile attitude cut off since this country got freedom.
Well, about three minutes after the principal and teacher fix us up in two rows in the school yard, where the sun ready to kill you with heat, I hear the sugar factory go chuck chuck chuck… and see thick, thick black and blue smoke. Was the heat to kill, of course, as we walk the red brick road that curves like a snake and ends up in Big Manager’s yard. You see, back then, we didn’t have shoes and socks like school kids do today. Eh-eh, we were barefoot, so every time we come across the burning brick, we feel like a boring stump of cane.
This time they bend down to see if Big Manager Missie and other missies are on the veranda as they enter Big Manager’s yard, which looks like a different world. Eh-eh, if you see them beautiful-beautiful flower and paved path, and the grass mowed as if you could sleep on it, while Ismael and Routie, the gardener, bent over and tended the flower as if the plant flower is an egg. Most of the time they are old and weak and shake like leaves when they walk, but as soon as Cookie Mable yells at them like she’s Big Manager Missie, Ismael and Routie come to life, although you can hear them cracking like bamboo bones in the hot sun.
“Order, children,” shouts the headmaster as Professor Johnson and Urmilla line us up. This time you’re in a riddle as to where Professor Johnson and Urmilla muster all that vigor, and move like athletes when they know them, Missie is watching them.
And sorry, I could remember when those white Missies looked like fairies when they smiled while their furee-furee hair looked like fowl when they lay down. And they have cherry red lips and they look really tender, but I don’t know how they would look if they were wukkin like me dad and mom in the backdam just for three or four bucks a week.
Well, every time we’ve finished singing a carol, those Missies on the veranda clap, while ahwe who stand up on the lawn like a soldier wonder seriously to know what good they did in their past life to live in their big house now with nice yard, servant and na have to sweat in the backdam rain or shine even if they are sick like parents ahwe…
This time the scorching sun was dripping with sweat as the Headmaster, Professor Johnson and Urmilla wiped their faces. By the time we finish singing the British national anthem and singing “Long Live the Queen”, we feel like we have the strength to leave our bodies, but when we think of the darling, the hundred and the jill, we’re getting lively inside.
After the manager gives a short speech, everyone shouts “Hip hip hooray…” then the two missie managers start throwing a handful of darling and cent and jill as they laugh
like we’re a dog or a crow fighting over the penny and Jill and my darling. And you should see the scramble and the falls and the bruises as my whimsical darling and a hundred and jill fall like rain and their manager missie giggles and ahwe school picknie hustle like a hundred and jill is life ahwe.
This time, Smallie and Saltfish like pork. True-true, if you see how they hustle and pocket and punch who in their own way, eh-eh, you think it’s a bacchanalia. “Hip hip hooray…”, sweetie and cent and jil falling like rain from their missie hand as they acted like they wanted to kill each other and them missie laughing just like the way they imagine them Roman uses to laugh and shout hooray hooray as slaves and gladiators kill each other in the arena.
When I’m able to rush for more darling, hundred and jill, I stand to one side and watch the show. And then it dawned on me true-true that the mule and oxen on the estate received better treatment, care and food than the sugar worker themselves, who punished generation after generation, night and day, for s sure the sugar was profitable, and believe they have a duty to say the pandit and the imam.
And also on the side is that the sweat of the parents fattens the manager and the missie and they treat us worse than the mule. That’s right, water got in my eyes and I wondered what bad thing parents were made to suffer so much, and what good thing their manager and missie did to live the life of King.
And when I can’t take the show anymore, I slip away and think Gawd is people’s favorite, but every time the parents open their eyes, it’ll be a different story, and they might see Queen and fuck me the ass manager and missie in a different light. And if I didn’t dive into the Canal du Tour to refresh my passion, I would have exploded like a bomb.
This short story “Hundred and Jill” by Rooplall Monar is an example of Guyanese literature at the time when the body of East Indian literature was truly developing. It follows a long history dating back to Joseph Ruhomon in 1894 when the Indian consciousness received its most important inspiration.
There followed a proliferation of cultural awareness during the first 40 years of the 20th century, but it was still some time before attention shifted away from India as an ancestral home and emerges a literature that has begun to question Guyanese society in both style and subject. This literature began to have its effect in the work of Sheik Sadeek, in particular, but also of Rajkumari Singh in the 1960s and 1970s. first and foremost as an existentialist).
The story of Rooplall Monar was written in 1985 and published in the Backdam People collection by Peepal Tree Press in Leeds, England. Significantly, it holds the distinction of being the first work to be published by Peepal Tree, founded by Jeremy Poynting following his research visit to Guyana at the time. The short story collection remains Monar’s finest work to date. Another of his important fictions is the novel Janjhat, which, like Backdam People, is an exceptional study of the life, culture and traditions of the descendants of sugar workers in Guyana.
This story helped fix the literature that had found its voice in the 1980s. It is a decidedly postcolonial work in the tradition of Guyanese social realism in fiction. At this time, it is very interesting to recall a short story set during Christmas time in British Guiana in the early 1950s, “one year after they crowned Queen Elizabeth in England” and where schoolchildren learned to sing “God Save the Queen”. ”.
It was Monar’s time in elementary school. The boy narrator has begun to become aware of colonial class and racial disparities; between the planter class and the people, under the rule of the sugar plantations over the governed, and the colonial education system, which functioned as a loyal subject. All of this is recalled with great anger. It remains one of Monar’s most memorable short stories, riveted to the vivid realization that while his classmates were lost in the depths of colonial scorn, he had to dive into the cool waters of the canal “to refresh my passion”. , otherwise it “been going to explode like a bomb”.