“We Pick Yam”
Us pick’ney we a go play outside together everyday. Mummy and Daddy have a patch on the other side of the mountain fi growing vegetables. Daddy turn the land over every year this time but now, he is sick. I’m only seven years and I know this is for true. Him never miss. Mummy must take our oldest brother Lloyd to the states so, she leave we with our cousin Daphney. We love fi eat porridge, and dumplings, and roast chicken. Mummy makes sure we have enough food, usually.
It is late in the evening and mi sister and brother and I been gone all the day. We swing across the lake from the rope. We chase Mr. Brown ‘dem billy goat and laugh. We pick mango and eat, only once, early . We walk down the mountain with us bare feet and all, and walk far to see the city. What a day we have! And now, we hungry. We come home and Daphney lay across the bed unmoved. “Cousin Daphney? Why you lay across the bed so, we nuh have anything fi eat all the day”, mi say. She doesn’t speak a word. She lay across the bed and cry. Mi a say, “Daphney, you don’t hear?” She just lay heaving and crying.
The moon light is the only light mi and us children we see. No candles lit in the house. Mi a tip toe across the creaky floor board to look ‘pon Daddy. Mummy say him have fever really bad. When mi touch him, him skin feel cold, and tight. The bed smell of urine and other thing not quite right. I jump back like the cold, it a sting the tip of mi fingers.
“Daphney,” mi say. “Don’t worry, we gon’ get something. Stop crying”. Mi brother and sister all crying, we all feel our belly tight. Mi have an idea. “Let’s go across the way to the Richardson’s patch” mi say.
“Nah gal, Mr. Richardson, he put a barb wire ‘round him patch”, says Cicely. She is 12 years old and a worrisome girl. Never break any rules, always press and clean. She never wan get down in to the earth. She rather stay ‘pon the house and help cook and clean. Not I. Mi run hard with my brother and throw rocks. Mi hair no comb and mi no care.
“You wan go hungry or you wan eat? “You a come wit wi?”, mi say.
We make off toward the Richardson patch. Mi have Daddy shovel from the side of the house and mi a dig. Mi a dig a hole deep enough for we to climb under. Understand, mi don’t like earthworm so, mi send mi big brother Donald through the other side first. Him glide under that barbed wire smooth, not a knick pinch him skin. Then Cicely go next, she too, smooth and clean under that fence. Last I. What do I see? An earthworm, seem like it long as mi arm. I get a knick on my arm from the wire but mi no cry.
Donald take the shovel and him dig and dig. He don’t find nothing in the patch that night. Mi say, “Let me have this tool. Mi gon find something.” Mi dig and dig, but I too don’t find anything. It is late. We dig up Mr. Richardson whole patch. We no find nothing. Us go to bed hungry that night.
The next day, we a wake up and Mrs. Richardson is in the kitchen making porridge. Daphney sit at the table, her face is swollen, she sipping on tea. She look like she cry all night. Mi say, “Daphney, we no mean any harm. Mrs. Richardson, we no mean any harm.” Mrs. Richardson make us each bowl of porridge and sit us down to eat. “You children did such a good job turning over our patch. My husband gone to buy us both seeds for each our patch today at the market. Hurry and finish your porridge so you can go down the mountain and dig your Daddy’s too.” We smile and eat and make merry at the table.
Again mi a tip-toe across the creaky floor board and peep in ‘pon mi Daddy, but him not there. The room smell strong of bleach. New fresh white sheets fit tight across his bed. Mi nuh no.
Donald lead the charge down the mountain. He feeling strong today. We march, like ant down the mountain to go fi work. Mi and Cissy use our hand to dig. We dig and we dig. Mi touch several earthworm that day. Donald dig and he dig. He get tired and wan go for wata. So, mi take the shovel to dig some too. Mi dig a line nice and straight. He smile a big tooth smile as I pull up weed and make a path for the new seed fi come.
All of a sudden mi feel something hard. Mi take the shovel and hit it again.Mi drop the shovel and pull up the earth to reveal a yam so big and pretty with leaves shiny and green sprouting out. Cissy and Donald run over to help me pull this root from the ground. It big! Big enough to feed all of us, and the Richardson’s too.
We carry it home. We all have smile big and toothy like Donald, now. When cousin Daphney see it, she start to cry again. She take it to the basin and she wash it, and she cry. Then she say real loud, “GOD WILL PROVIDE”. That made we feel happy.