Nigel, Vishnu, Basil, Shorty and Ashraf, better known as de Bodderashun Lil Bais, were trudging home after another hard day at school. Man, Miss Rosie had eyes like a chicken-hawk. None of their pranks had gone unnoticed and they had been scolded more than once. Kicking at the grass and any stray pieces of dried mud in their path, they discussed what to do that afternoon. Basil had a good idea.
“Yuh know dat big jamoon tree near Beharry rice fiel? Well lass time ah pass, ah see dem jamoon ripin up nice.”
A short debate followed. Should they go home and drop off their school things? On the other hand, if they took the shortcut by the punt trench dam, they would soon reach the jamoon tree. Besides, they did not want anybody to beat them to it. Who knows who else had their beady eyes on those same jamoons? Energised, they set off at brisk pace. When they reached the tree, schoolbags were thrown aside on the dam, scattering books, pencils and even a marble or two, but nobody seemed to care. The tree was laden! Jamoons dotted the greenery like fat purple gems. After hasty negotiations, they agreed that Basil and Vishnu would climb and pick for all of them, throwing down jamoons for them to catch.
So Basil and Vishnu shinned up the tree, pausing only to cram a handful or two of the luscious fruit into their own eager mouths first before they started pelting down jamoons to their pals. Soon it was raining jamoons. The waiting boys caught most of them and were not bothered that a few ended up on the dam, bursting open with fat plops as they landed on the hard dried mud. They stuffed themselves. Life was good. There were so many that Nigel decided to put some in the bowl he had in his schoolbag. It had held his breaktime snack of green mango and salt and pepper.
Satiated, they stood in the shade of the tree. Shorty suddenly remarked “Y’all shirt gat jamoon juice pun it.” Then he looked down at his own. It too bore the same artistic abstract pattern of purple and mauve specks and blotches. They looked at their shirts and looked at each other.
“Oh skites!” they cried in unison. Before they could say anything else, Ashraf pointed further up the dam. Two figures were approaching. Please let it not be any of their mothers! Relief flooded them as the figures came closer. It was little Pinky, the District Commissioner’s daughter, with her nursemaid Devi, on their way to visit Devi’s Bhougie in Kiskadee Village.
(The complete story – and many others – will appear in book form next year.)