The house was built around 1932, by my father. on land bought from a lady named Bakserie, for $25. He and his young bride, Sonia, 16 yrs (he was 19 yrs), would live there for the rest of their lives and would raise eight children, who thankfully, are all alive today, but none of us are in Guyana anymore. The first two children, two boys died in infancy. My eldest suster Betty ( we all have "pet" names, which I will be using), was born in Dec. 1937, followed by Baba in June 1940, me, in July 1942, my brother Cecil in Jan. 1944, followed by Prame in Aug. 1945, Baby in Dec.1946, Kesh in May 1948 and lastly Krish in Dec. 1952. We were a healthy, happy brood and quite a handful for my mother, who stayed home to take care of us, with love and a firm hand. She would tell us stories, that would become lessons in life ( I have told those stories to my children and to my grandchildren).
It was and continues to be a three bedroom, house, with a large living room upstairs and a bedroom and a prayer room ( all Hindus have a prayer room in their homes, no need for temples), and a large kitchen and an open, well tended "bottom house' with a hammock (my mother loved to swing in it, singing and telling stories while putting us to sleep when we were babies), two benches for visitors and there were many. ( That "bottom house was swept many times a day, kept spotlessly clean, daubed with a special mud every other day and as one neighbor recounted to me on my visit, " you could eat off of it").
The house would be rebuilt and enlarged three times, the last was in 1963. The best wood was chosen, mostly hard woods, like greenheart, wallaba, cedar etc. because it was bulit to last and so it did, even with the past 25 years of neglect. It was built on eight feet high posts, with a red-painted zinc roof. It was centrally located in the large yard , surrounded bt fruit tress. My father planted clumps of three mango trees, one in the east, one north and the other south. Later he would add other mango trees, coconut trees, star apple, sapidalla, banana, lime, carmanga and papaya trees etc. My mother planted her garden with peppers (various kinds), pumpkin, squash, beans/boras, bhaijis ( great for iron, especially the saijan ), jhingi, egg plants/baigan and many more. She loved flowers and she had a special place for them, especially the hibiscus ( In 1976, when she came to visit us in Montreal, she brought a few stems, which she planted and which my wife, Juliet, has cut and replanted many times over the years, we have about six large ones in pots in our home , she would put them outside in the summer and bring them back in the fall, and she has succeeded in getting some flowers from time to time), used for prayers, tulsie, chamaillee, ferns (orchids grew wild, all ove rthe place, especially on the bird droppings on the mango trees.) and so many more. Oh the color, the smell and the beauty.
The house has a spacious verandah, from which we could see the large expanse of rice fields, the fruit trees of our neighbors and especially the train that took the workers each day for work in the cane-fields. Port Mourant of which Miss Phoebe is a sub-section was the most productive of the many sugar estates owned and ran by the British firm, Bookers, until it was closed down in the late fifties for political reasons ( the country was demanding independence from Britain, and the leader of the movement Dr. Cheddi Jagan was from here and his most loyal supporters were from here and the sugar workers were always in the fore front of the struggle, refusing to work, going on strikes and generally sabotaging the economy and so in retaliation Bookers closed the factory, fired/laid off many workers, seized their land and rice-fields and moved operations to the nearby Albion estate, which continue to operate today as the largest and most successful sugar factory in the country, but now run by Guysuco...the Guyana Sugar Company). In the mornings. it was quite a sight to see the over-loaded trains, bristling with cutasses, shining in the glaring sunlight. It was a wonder that, those very sharp cutlasses did not wound/ cut many of those workers, jammed in, on the lurching, swayimg trains.
We woud wake up in the morning ( about 6 am) with the songs of the many birds, the kiskadee, the dove, the blue saki , the yellow bird, the humming bird, the "old witches", the wrens, sometimes parakeets and parrots flying overhead, the red-breasted cardinals, but it would begin with the roosters. We would swim in the trench, with its clean, cool black water, that ran next to the house and then have a hot breakfast and prepare for school, which was about a half-mile away, a nice walk in the morning sun. The day has dawned and there would be so much to see and do as it progressed.
More later, because it is now 6.30 and time to watch cricket.