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Point of Interest
From left: The veteran drinker and drinker-intraining.
Ogo’ stirring the biggest pot of soup ever.

AROUND JA WITH PAUL H.

Laughter in Miss Inez's dead yard

A 'dead yard', the former home of the deceased, is supposed to be a place where people gather to remember, reflect on, and mourn the departed.

But the dead yard can also be a place of excitement, where very interesting people are found. And in Inez Wright's dead yard at Bull Savannah recently, I met some people who made me laugh or put me into great wonderment.

But first, Bull Savannah is nestled in a basin, surrounded by hills. It's a lovely community dotted with beautiful houses. It has the most refreshing weather, which some people find to be too cold. I would live there.

I arrived early, when the inside of the Miss Inez's grave was still being painted. Soon, I met some of her relatives, and we became familiar fast. She was the grandmother of a colleague of mine.

Slowly, people arrived to pay their respects or to help with the cooking. It was the day before the funeral, and preparations were gathering momentum. I found myself a spot, after pulling water from a well, where I could see the women who were cooking.

The soup pot was the biggest pot I had ever seen, and it required a big makeshift spoon to stir it. And as the women worked, they chatted and reminisced about the loves of their lives - or the lack thereof. When the wood under the pot started to smoke, one of them gave a suggestive reason as to why it was.

Another remarked that women shouldn't get pregnant this year as it was a leap year and that only mules got pregnant in a leap year. Her sarcasm was on point as she knew very well that mules cannot get pregnant at all.

Yet, it was the dramatic Novelette Powell who fascinated me. She used every part of her body to tell her stories. She should be a professional stand-up comedienne. You just look at her face and you have to laugh.

The stories of Powell's food allergies are not common. She was once knocked out from eating too many naseberries, jackfruit hurts her head, and bananas make her sick. But, she said, she was not allergic to men as she twisted her body and face.

Powell and the other got into the stories of women who are not inclined to be domesticated such as the 'figaree', who was sent home by her man because she would buy cooked food on the road and take it home and place it into pots pretending that she was the cook.

Then there was the one who cooked the chicken's feet with the toes on; the other who put the rice and the peas to cook at the same time. Folkore or fact? Powell made them sound like the latter. And later in the evening, the food cooked with so much joy was enjoyed by all.

Yet, the drinks were what keep some 'mourners' around long after many had left for their own yard. The late-night drinkers flocked the 'bar'. The drunk ones carried on with their antics, refusing to leave. A young drunkard-in-training nearly came to blows with a veteran after he accused the vet of drinking his cup of liquor.

Our little session was interrupted by a slim-build man coming up the red-dirt path. He seemed to be on haste and staggering. He was coming from another dead yard with a cup in his hand. He stopped by Inez's yard for rum, the rum that he didn't get the night before. Not sure what became of him, for I had left the scene to get things done, perhaps to look for the bull in the savannah. 

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