Friday, August 05, 2005

Sunday Night Dinner: Ssssnake

When that snake conversation bust open at Cousin dinner on Sunday night, I know for sure then that nobody ain’t going home soon.

I know for sure then that the moon gon crawl into she bedroom long before we.

"When the hymerali snake bite you, you does have to be smoked to sweat out the poison," Cousin announce.

Me mother, like Ms. Authority say, "Mm-hm. Is true. You does have to smoke the person."

But Ms. Doubting Thomas me screw up me face. "Smoke? What you mean, smoke?"

"They got to wrap you up, I don’t know if is in leaf or blanket. And they put you on a spit, over fire, like when you smoking fish, and they heat you 'til you sweat out the poison," me mother say.

"Yes," Cousin nodding wise, wise. "That is what daddy tell me."

Cousin father, he is me cha-cha, me father brother.

He used to live up Abary Creek. There, poison snake does only wait for you to twitch one toe as a excuse to bite you.

Well, when I hear that my cha cha say that, when I hear he say you got to get smoked to sweat out the poison, I stop doubting.

He know things we mere mortals don’t know.

"Oh shucks!" That was me now, believing.

After that, everybody had a story, a tall tale, a rumour, or a ill-conceived fact to share.

The only problem was, everybody want to share at the exact same moment.

All you could hear was “argle bargle argle bargle…”

But suddenly, in the middle o' the argle bargle, in the midst o’ words flying all over the living room, somebody voice drop in clean and clear.

"I hear it got a snake, if you kill the partner, the snake gon follow you 'til it kill you."

The argle bargle stop.

Cousin say, "Y’know, daddy tell me that the Amerindians believe that the hymerali does travel in a pair. If you kill one, the partner does communicate with the dead mate.

And it does communicate somehow who kill it.

And the partner does hunt you down 'til it find you.

And kill you.”

Me, big fan o’ cha-cha, want to tell one o' he stories too. "Aiiiye Cuz, you ever hear 'bout the time the snake follow you daddy and them men behind they tractor?"

But before Cousin even hear me, she husband jump in. "How that gon be possible? Suppose you migrate overseas? How the snake gon follow you to kill you?"

Somebody mumble, mumble that is a Amerindian belief.

Nobody ain’t dispute the belief. We so want to think that snake bad, and can do anything.

Then hear Monty, "It got a snake that does use a leaf to bring back to life he dead pardner."

That one rev up me mother. She sit up. She jook the air with she finger and say, "Y’know, Joiner did tell me that same thing!"

[Joiner was a furniture / wood-work man who used to work for me father in the construction business.]

Me mother say, "Years before Joiner start work for she father..."

...[me mother stab the air and point to me]...

"Joiner used to work for some other people in the bush. Them workers used to live in a launch on the river, and cook on land.

Joiner say one o' them boys kill a snake. The dead snake pardner crawl up to the dead snake, and look at it good. Then the pardner crawl 'way and leave the dead one.

Them men think the snake gone.

That snake come back with a leaf in he mouth and drop it by the dead snake.

Joiner say, the next thing they know, the dead snake revive, and the two o’ them crawl in the bush.

Joiner say when they see that, they hustle off in the launch and move 'way. They not staying there!”

If you hear we after this!

Argle bargle full up the air again. Noise!

"The snake ain’t been dead."

"Is a special leaf."

"Something in the leaf does revive them."

"Animals know things too, why we think we is only one to know?"

Finally! We run out o' conjecture, opinion, idea and thought.

We quiet down.

Then Monty ask, "Anybody ever see jumbie?"

Jumbie? Dead people spirit?

Why the tail people got to talk 'bout them things that late o' clock?

Why the tail cowards like me and Cousin can't help weself, we got to hear, we got to talk jumbie stories?

As if the snake wasn’t enough.

16 comments:

Anoop said...

What if he meant the jumbie of a snake? ;)

Ahhh Snakes and the misinformation that surrounds them. The "follow act if you kill the partner" is so prevalent in India thanks to the movie "Nagin" (A female Cobra). Worse people have no idea that snakes are infact very defensive by nature and would not attack you unless provoked. There are few aggressive snakes but they are too few.

Snakes, crocs, anacondas... I love them... wish I were a wild life activist/student.

Icylyrics said...

so do I Anoop. I am a lover of the lowly life forms. (those kind anyway.

GG, I am smiling today. All because of Cha Cha's, Jumbies and convo called Argle Bargle. I must stand upright again soon.

BossMack said...

You a fuckin' great writer, You beautiful bitch!

Modern Viking said...

Hehe... I'm imagining what it must be like to get smoked like that... I guess it's a good idea to stay away from snakes in Guyana.

That's true, most snakes don't attack unless provoked. But it can be so easy to provoke them. You might not even know it's there, but frighten it somehow...

Ale said...

i could just hear the crickets outside making the squee squee noises... i have a feeling NOBODY is leaving the house this night. they'll all be so scared and decide to sleep over.


you better be copywriting this somewhere. !!

Guyana-Gyal said...

Ale, thank you, you're so sweet about the copyrighting...a few months back I did a post about this blog and copyright. And now I've added a bit more in my profile.

[All because I don't know how to add things in the sidebar!!!]

Viking, sssssnakessssss are in Brassssssil tooooo.

I don't know about snakes waiting for you to disturb them, I ain't waiting to find out.

Bossmack, my ol' aunts, and grandmother readers will be scandalised...but thanks for the compliment.

Icy, last time I checked, you're still upside down, haha...but according to yoga, that's a great way to be, gets the blood flowing.

Well, Anoop, the Amerindians are the indigenous people, they live in the hinterlands, rainforest...and they didn't see Nagin. [Who's the actress in that movie, can you remind me, she was a brilliant dancer...]

And my cha cha swears the snake followed them.

And Joiner, I don't think made up that thing about the leaf.

DCveR said...

Blame the snake, blame the snake! It's always the same, even the Bible blames the snake for the 'fall' of Man.
I've never seen snakes waging war. Nor killing out of fun or sport.
The more I watch Nature the more I believe the scariest animal really is Man. Them snakes are just lovely little animals that should be left alone. Of course having a Constrictor for a pet is going too far as can be seen by those killed by their own pet Boas.

piu piu said...

there is so much snake superstition out there yes? i do miss hearing of those 2 legged snakes....

x

Anoop said...

Nagin had Reena Roy.

I think you are talking about VyjanthiMala who had acted in Nagina, in the 1950's. She is a classical dancer. And then the new movie, Nagina (sometime in the 90's) had Sridevi.

Mimi in NY said...

hey guyana

thanks for the email! don't worry about differences about politics. most people disagree with each other, it's what makes the world interesting. and if you're wondering why I'm not commenting - just ridiculously busy, in between articles, moving apartments and dancing long hard hours...

xx

kaiyareturns said...

GG- when i was just in california, I hiked through a long mountain side to get down to a beach and there were signs that said there might be snakes in the area... the whole time my manfriend was singing non sense african/amerindian sounding songs to ward off the snakes. i thought he was crazy but he was trying to not "startle" the snakes so they could here us coming...

i still think he's crazy but he's done a lot of fishing and camping in the wild so i just let him do it.

anyhow i loved your story. i can't believe you are talking about real life but you're able to make it like such a fable...

kaiyareturns said...

by the way i hear you make bags... i would like to see pictures!!! if you cant post, do you think you could send a pic over email? I'm curious!

Guyana-Gyal said...

Kaiya, I’m convinced your friend knows something we don’t know, to sing songs to warn the snakes. I love that!

I can’t take all the credit for the ‘story telling’ habit…it’s so ingrained in us here. We talk about things that happen to us as if we’re telling stories. Must be the old oral tradition.

One day, when I get a digital camera, I will post pics., I promise. The last set of bags I just finished sewing have gone to be sold.

Hi Mimi!!! Happy smiles to see you! Comments? They are another way of encouraging, and you have encouraged me in more ways than you know, girl.

[Check out the article on Mimi in New York Times, folks].

Ohhh, I see, Anoop…there was Nagin…and Nagina.

Vijayanthimala is one amazing dancer. I can’t stop talking about her.

Hahaaaaa…Piu, those 2-legged snakes must be avoided at all costs. They are simply not KOSHER…if you know wot I mean.

That’s right Dcver, blame the snake, blame the snake, everything the snake gets blamed for.

I saw a pic. in our newspapers, of a man with his pet snake, strolling around town. He was looking at the snake sooooo lovingly, and smiling, and the snake, I swear I’m telling the truth, the snake, in profile, looked as if it was smiling too! I love that pic.

kfumama said...

I like that movie..Nagin...one of my favs

as for snakes...one climbed out the palm tree when we first moved in an i tell it it aint welcome in this home cause I have children, so it leff, then one day the three "men"of the home pullin out shrubs an wan lil wan bin in dere..me tink he get chap..

Hubby see wan documentary where wan snake pretend to be dead so he couldnt get eaten by the bigger snake...de snake tro back he head let out his "dead smell" an stick out he tongue...and wen de odda snake smell he an tink he dead an left him there, he pick up he head and slithered away...hahaha

Anoop said...

Lol Discovery Guyana or is it US, copied from Discovery India ;).


Lol yes I have seen that documentary. It was a Cobra eating another big not a very poisonous snake.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Cannibal the Cobra is action!