A Colour of Joy
I welcomed my first Friday evening at Pine Acres where I would be living with my aunt Gertrude and her eleven year old daughter, Nellie. School had been fun; each day we stood under the mango trees and recited our multiplication tables and scripture passages as if we were singing choruses.
After school Nellie and I decided to play ‘hop-scotch.’
“I am so happy that Aunty agreed to let me live here Nellie.”
“Me too,” Nellie replied. “Now I have someone to play with.”
“Coop, cooop, cooop, coooop.”
“Who’s making that weird noise?” I enquired.
“No-one really - just blind Adassa. She does it while feeding her chickens. Look!” Nellie beckoned, as she hurried behind an apple tree.
“Why do you call her blind Adassa?”
“Everyone, except for mama, calls her that name – well she’s blind anyway. Come on Meg, let’s jeer her ! Bli….. !!”
“Sssshhhhhhh ! Nellie. I wonder what she’s like? I’ve never been near to a blind person before.”
“She’s old and grouchy”, said Nellie, “And she lives in that haunted house”.
“I want to talk to her”, I said, making my way under the barb wire fencing.
Moments later I was only a few feet away from the old lady.
“Who’s there?” a voice asked sharply.
“I am Meg, Miss Gertrude’s niece,” I muttered.
“ I see,” said the old lady,as she straightened the coloured cloth which covered her head.
“What can I do for you Miss?”
“I just want to say ‘hello’ mam. What’s your name please?”
“Adassa Carmelita DeGout.”
Mrs. DeGout reached for her walking stick which was leaning against a pine tree. Fearing what she was about to do I stepped backwards and asked shakily:
“Could I look around your garden, please ?”
“Not much to see”, she snapped. Anyway, I have to go indoors now to make my tea”.
“What about the chickens?” I asked: “Could I put them in the coop for you?”
“Not to worry, they will fly on to the shrubs when they are ready to sleep”.
Like well-dressed people on a crowded street, Mrs. DeGout’s garden was gleeing: Green strawberry plants, ready-to-eat sugar-cane, banana trees, callalloo plants, yam and sweet potato vines, hedged by green coffee shrubs.
Suddenly, I found the courage to ask:
“May I stay with you for a little while Mrs. DeGout?”
“As you wish, Missy.”
Confidently, Adassa walked towards her thatched roof house. In the centre of the room was an old dining table on which was poised a vase of freshly cut ferns and an unusual looking object. In one corner of the room was a huge four-poster bed covered with a green blanket. The other furniture in the room was a beautiful antique wardrobe and two rocking chairs .
I followed Adassa to the kitchen and watched her as she filled the kettle with water from a nearby kerosene tin.
“How do you know when it’s full?” I asked.
“I listen to the sound,” she replied.
“I returned to the hall while the old lady made her tea.
“How do you know when you have reached the different places in the house Mrs. DeGout?”
“It’s simple my dear, I count the steps.”
“It’s a little dark in here,” I said.
“Letme light the lamp for you dear .”
“This is so pretty!” I exclaimed, rubbing my hands all over Mrs. DeGout’s green, velvet-soft, blanket.
“I’ve had it for ages,” she said proudly.
“What’s your favourite colour Mrs. DeGout ?”
“Green is my favourite. With the help of Gertrude, I sew buttons on the inside of my green dresses so that I can separate them from the others.”
“Have you ever seen colours Mrs. DeGout”?
“Never dear, but I use my imagination. I think green means handsome trees, fresh flowers, various crops in my garden, grass for the cows, and precious little children. It’s like a world full of joy!”
‘You sound as if you are reciting a poem, Mrs. DeGout.”
“Ha, ha,” she laughed, mounting on her bed and pulling the blanket to her waist.
“You may have a ginger cookie from the cupboard dear”
Crunching my cookie I asked ,“And what’s that over there?” pointing to the object on the table?
“A.. gra… ma… phone ,” said Mrs. DeGout drowsily.
I looked at the old lady who had started to doze. I pulled the blanket up to her warm chin then tip-toed out of the house to be greeted by rays of sunset.
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