As the old man lay dying, in his heart was an old secret that he longed to reveal to his middle aged daughter and her ex best friend. Would that revelation create more bitterness and pain? Or would it mend the friendship that his evil deeds destroyed four decades ago?
“Mi Femm ahny sorti duva la porte mwe si ou konet sa ki bor po wu” (look woman get out from in front my door if you know what’s good for you). Ma Dedeen could be heard shouting with anger at someone at her front door. Her daughter Valerie rushed to see what the fuss was all about, and to her embarrassment, it was Ma JoJo her best friend Belinda’s mother.
Valerie never quite figured out why Her mother could not stand Ma JoJo. Ma JoJo was Belinda’s mother and Belinda was Valerie’s best friend. The girls both went to St Martin’s School together in the days when Sr. Ann reigned supreme. It was rumored that Ma Jojo and Ma Dedeen, Valerie’s mother, were very close at one time but the falling out was a mystery and neither woman wanted to talk about it.
Ma Dedeen did fairly well for herself but Ma Jojo was flourishing. She had a beautiful 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom modern split level home, a Hilman car and a brand new Austin Pickup. She was also boasting of opening a small minimart. No one knew where Ma Jojo got so much revenue from and when asked about it, she just shrugged her shoulders and gave a small mysterious smirk.
“But Ma what de lady do you, you doe like her ?” questioned Valerie one day.
“I jes doe trust her. Period !” responded Ma Dedeen with a finality that also said Amen!
to that particular topic. It opened up some very deep, old and painful wounds of the past. A past she really did not care to remember, but one she would never forget.
Ma Dedeen took that bittersweet trip down memory lane, forty years ago when she and her two best friends Tazia and Clara (Ma Jojo) were only 16. Ma Dedeen went by the name of Jem. The trio were inseparable and there were times when they shared their innermost secrets and fears as well.
She remembered only too well when it all started about forty years ago….when fate put their loyalty and beautiful friendship to the test. A fate that shattered the innocence of being sixteen.
There was a big commotion up the road! A man was found naked and stabbed to death in some bushes. The victim was identified as Mathias Lane better known as “Chicken” everyone was shocked because Chicken was a very charming and friendly individual especially among the ladies despite the fact that he was married. He was a very sharp domino and pool player and a frequent visitor to the “Sea Dolphin’s Night Bar ” .
But Chicken had a dark side that very few individuals knew about . He secretly dabbled in the occult and he had a thing for underage girls. Chicken did not come home the night before and his wife Nadia was in the country with her sick mother at the time.
Her 16 year old daughter Tazia did not mention anything about him. She was home for the past two days with her three younger siblings ages 10, 7 and 5. Everyone was used to Chicken not coming home occasionally so it was nothing strange.
Tazia was sitting on the steps of the public library. She was carrying a huge burden on her shoulders. Her period was two weeks late possibly it could be the stress of everything in her life, the stress of losing her stepfather. She was understandably upset. Chicken was murdered and no one knew who nor why. Her mother and siblings would be devastated by his death. She could not burden her mother with the news that she might be pregnant. What if that was not so, then it would be unwarranted stress. She decided to keep quiet. She would tell Jem and Clara, they could keep a secret. They always kept secrets for each other.
Jem saw Tazia looking so down. “Sa ki wivawu nuh ou booway kor sah? (Why do you look so upset), she asked. Tazia was in tears, she explained to Jem that Chicken was found murdered, her mother was still in Boetica taking care of her grandmother and on top of all that she was two weeks late with her period. They both went over to Clara to talk things over. It was a very confusing issue, Clara and Jem thought that Tazia should keep the secret amongst the three of them and keep the baby if she turned out to be pregnant.
Approximately six months passed by with no suspects to Chicken’s murder, Tazia’s pregnancy was still a secret among the trio. She was now almost 7 months and was able to conceal it very well by wearing oversized clothes. They decided one day to go over to Clara’s house to hang out.
Mr. Clarence, Clara’s father was a big Loogawoo and he was an evil man but very good at pretending to be nice and not many people knew that. Those who had the misfortune of employing his services to do work for them, would have to literally sign an agreement in their own blood, with a special quill (special feather)as insurance, if they did not have enough money to pay him, so that just in case they died still owing him for work already done he would go to their funerals and using a special Black Magic book from Louisianna he would captured their spirits trapping them in the bottles before hoarding them in the secret room. He was in league with the devil himself and that room was off limits to his entire family.
Clara was always curious about the room and secretly plotted and planned on how to get a hold of that key to the secret room which her father guarded with His life. Anyway she hit pay dirt that day. He had to get to a funeral that day and in his haste he forgot his little key purse. Clara found the keys and with a mixture of fear and excitement tried them all until she heard the click of the lock signaling that the door was now opened. The three girls tiptoed their way in.
There was nothing special about the room, that’s what they thought. Little did they know they were being watched by a very sinister and evil Spirit that lived in the room. It was called “Maitre Djiab” when they came in to the room they disturbed the atmosphere of the room and that of the Maitre Djiab. He was very angry and felt disrespected! Someone would pay the price. There would be hell to pay, and he would demand his pound of flesh by any means possible.
There was nothing significantly special about the room. It appeared to be just a plain room whitewashed walls, bare concrete floor a few wooden shelves with apparently empty jars, a few worn out dusty books, a couple curtains and another closed door. They picked up the empty jars, flipped through the books putting them back on the shelves casually with no apparent interest.
They were bored and disappointed and were just about to leave when they heard the sound of footsteps and someone attempting to open the door. In fear they scrambled for a hiding spot and ran to the other door which they discovered was a closet.
Through the cracks in the closet door, they saw Mr. Clarence come into the room, looking very intense. He took an empty glass jar from his black bag and placed it on the shelf.
They heard a sound like someone else in the room, but they could not see anyone else. An interesting conversation was taking place. The voice sounded very muffled but angry and demanding and Mr. Clarence could be heard protesting and pleading. It was really frightening and unnerving hearing a grown man plead especially to an unseen entity.
Mr. Clarence took his shirt off and was on his knees, he was whipped soundly and viciously by an invisible being. He whimpered and cried his back was marked up and he looked humbled and submissive. When the beating was over, he got up from his knees. All this the girls witnessed dumbstruck.
He looked around and noticed something on the floor. He looked at it and turned it
around in his hands. The girls strained their eyes to see what it was . To their absolute horror it was a side of a gold earring belonging to Tazia. They gripped each other frantically, the game was over!
Mr. Clarence pocketed the earring and said nothing, he just scratched his head thoughtfully.
A few weeks had passed by since that close call. The girls thought they had gotten away but Mr. Clarence knew there was a price to pay for the invasion of the “secret room”. He was given an ultimatum by the Maitre Djiab, or come up with a better solution. He would have to sacrifice his daughter Clara or her first born in order to keep his comfortable lifestyle or face a miserable existence of abject poverty and misfortune until he died.
He decided to reveal to his daughter the gravity of her actions and the consequences, unless she came up with an alternative, then he asked about Tazia and her circumstances. The plan would be to invite the two other friends to dinner and take
it from there. Well that significant night came.
They were not quite finished with dinner when Tazia felt the cramping in her stomach. It was not yet time. She was just about seven months along, the baby was not due for another two months. The plan was working. Tazia was hot and sweating and seeing doubles, she passed out.
Mr. Clarence with the help of the two frightened girls Clara and Jem brought Tazia into the secret room. He got one of the empty glass jars, opened it up muttered something under his breath and turned his Attention to the dying girl.
The pain was excruciating and somehow Tazia knew she was dying, her life was unfolding before her eyes, but no, that could’nt be right. She was now faced to face with her tormentor, the man who repeatedly raped and got her pregnant, her stepfather Chicken. There he was large as life, she was slipping in and out of consciousness, as she felt him violating her young body.
He told her he would kill her if she told her mother, and that her mother would not believe her anyway. He taunted her, called her a salop,(slut) she could smell the liquor on his breath and that night she could not take it anymore. Out of desperation, she grabbed the first thing she got her hands on and Wham ! Bonjay (Good Lord) but she didn’t mean to kill him, she stabbed him by the side of his neck with a scissors. She just wanted him to leave her alone. Boy look malleh wi. (bad luck) she
murdered him in cold blood and now she was paying the price with her life. The pain was excruciating, she was sweating.
She felt weak and helpless as her life slowly seeped out of her body. She was in and out of a fog, she grew weaker and weaker and the painful realization of her betrayal by her best friend was like a knife twisting in her back. The tears rolled slowly down her cheeks as she silently pleaded for one of her friends to save her life. Jem bit down on her lip, she was powerless, but Clara, out of guilt could not look her best friend in the eye. She had used a very delicate secret to betray one of her closest friend in the cruelest manner with the help of her evil father.
The spirit of Chicken was summoned up from beyond, by Mr. Clarence who had him trapped in one of his glass jars. After opening up the glass jar, Clarence quickly donned a black hooded robe and tied his head with a red mouchoir (kerchief).
Chanting and dancing, he drank what appeared to be reddish liquid from a wine glass. Using a book entitled Marie Laveau’s Black Magic Ritual, that he ordered directly from Louisiana, he proceeded to call on the spirit of Chicken, with a medium-sized bamboo rod, some black twine, a 7 day old piece of bread dipped in sugar and a five dollar bill.
Chicken’s spirit was invoked from the dead, by Mr. Clarence and he was now faced to face with his murderer Tazia, the person who took his life. He would be there waiting to help deliver his infant son…the sacrifice that would set his spirit free and save the life of Mr. Clarence’s daughter Clara.
Jem and Clara could not see Chicken but Tazia could, since she was already hanging in the balance between life and death, soon it would be all over.
Later she would be taken to her home as if she was asleep. Her mother would be planning yet another funeral, and the painful secret would remain intact.
When Nadia, Tazia’s mother found her, she was already dead but did not know it because even in death Tazia was still bleeding. She was rushed to the Princess Margaret Hospital where she was pronounced dead and they could not determine her cause of death, another big mystery even for the doctors, but a few people as usual had their suspicions. “Magway sa ! Say chway Yo chway tifi ya ou sav” ( Imagine that ! is kill they killed the girl you know) one woman said shaking her head from side to side.
Jem could not believe that Clara and her wicked father had the nerve to show up at
Tazia’s funeral. “Saqway modara! Bordya kay pini zor” (Murderers God will punish you all) she said to herself . She will never speak to Clara again. As they lowered Tazia’s coffin in the hole. Someone had to catch Nadia she was fainting, when she came to she claimed that she saw Chicken holding a baby in his hand standing around Tazia’s grave…..
Ma Dedeen was unconsciously wiping at her eyes and sniffling. She would never forget, never…
“Mami what happen to you ? you crying man?” Her daughter Valerie broke her out of her reverie.
“No,” she lied. “I’m just tired.”
“So why were you screaming at Ma JoJo earlier?” Valerie questioned her mother. Because both she and her father have too much zafey.
Ma Dedeen did not want to drag kids into adult people business and such a sensitive and dangerous issue she was not forgetting that they all were sworn to secrecy, it was a pact . She hated that she was forced into this. Now Mr. Clarence was dying and he wanted to talk to her and his treacherous daughter.
“He have a secret?” Ma Dedeen muttered to herself . “Hmph! Ou ka dimwey secret? What heneed is a priest. He need to ask God forgiveness for all those lives he destroyed. He needs to make peace with God. He asking for me? E ni kayshoy ah su sheiy? eh beh kitayi toofayi” (He has something on his chest? Well let it stifle him).
She was getting angrier and angrier, muttering to herself. But she was curious about what the old man had to say. So after giving them a hard time, she eventually went.
“Yes Clarence, what it is you dying to tell me?” Ma Dedeen stood at Mr. Clarence’s bedsidewith an attitude, eye rolling and both hands on her hip. The old man knew that Ma Dedeencould not stand the best bone in neither he nor Clara and he hoped that the secret he was about to reveal would end whatever animosity he created some forty odd years ago.
Both ladies were in the room. With a shaky croaky voice Mr. Clarence confessed that He knew he was’nt a good man. He spoiled a lot of people’s lives and he had to face God.
But he asked that Jem (Ma Dedeen) forgive Clara (Ma Jojo) for what happened in the secret room with Tazia and the fact that they were forced to witness what no normal sixteen-year-old should ever witness in any lifetime.
“So you spoil people eh?” chuckled Ma Dedeen. “How about kill? How about murder innocent children and their mother, Clarence you are a big loogawoo and you have to burn in hell.”
Ma Dedeen was becoming very emotional, she was going to speak her mind and she did not care. “Jem stop judging me, I have something to tell you damnit now listen to me!” demanded Mr. Clarence as he gathered strength to say what was on his mind.
For an instant Ma Dedeen was shocked. “Regardless to how you feel about me it does’nt matter now, I am dying but I want you to live in peace with Clara, because she is your sister.” He coughed as he was saying this.
“She is my what?” Ma Dedeen was beyond shocked. “My sister ?” both Ladies looked at each other.
“So you are my father ?” squeaked Ma Dedeen.
“Yes Jem,” continued Mr. Clarence. “That day in the secret room that you all were not supposed to make all you playground, you all unknowingly violated an oath, ALL THREE OF YOU !!” he shouted then broke into a coughing fit.
He continued, “A sacrifice was needed to pay the “Maitre Djiab” would you have felt better if I had
sacrificed you or Clara ? you both were my daughters for God sake, my daughters” the old man’s eyes brimmed with tears. The room was charged with emotion.
“I doe care!” screamed Ma Dedeen “ if you did not have dirty hands there would be no sacrifice to begin with, we would never have to go through this”.
Mr. Clarence tried another logical reasoning, “O.k.,” he said. “Chicken was interfering with his stepdaughter, she got pregnant by him, she killed him, is true is self defense but she would have ended up in prison, think about her mother finding out is her daughter who killed her husband, her daughter was having her husband’s baby,” he reasoned.
“So for all dat you had to play God with people’s lives, Clarence ? Stupes,” Ma Dedeen was still mad. She was letting her anger out.
The Next day the Catholic Priest came to give Mr. Clarence his last sacrament and at his last request Mr. Clarence asked that both Clara and Jem worked together and that they purify the room. He asked that for protection they both dressed all in white, get in there with a Priest.
He will know what to do, take away all the glass jars. He told them where to find the list of names of the spirits trapped in the bottles. Have the Priest conduct a special service for them. The bottles should be buried in the cemetery at the respective gravesites.
As for the “Maitre Djiab” with the holy water in the room for seven days, and the glass jars gone, he will be powerless, since he used to feed off the trapped spirits.
“Boy look coshony,” sneered Ma Dedeen. “so after you make all your pyai and your dirty evil deeds, I get to clean up your mess? eh beh look it” Ma Dedeen jabbed and made snide remarks but it was expected.
Getting the priest to agree to sanctify the room was one hell of an ordeal, they came up with all kinds of reasons why it would not be good but Mr. Clarence paid handsomely for the job to be done, and it was done exactly the way he wanted it done.
Goes to show everything and everyone has their price !
Mr. Clarence died shortly after he received his last sacrament, he made his peace with God.
To God Be the Glory ! Let Him alone be the Judge !
It took sometime for Ma Dedeen to come to terms with the news of Ma Jojo being her sister and Mr. Clarence her father, it was a lot to digest, in the end she slowly but surely forgave the past it was an ordeal hard to forget but in time she would get back to best friend mode with her new sister.
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