tabanca - "the forlorn feeling that one gets, when a love affair is over".....Cote ce, Cote la




by Alloy
(c)copyright 1999

-From Tales from Under de Breadfruit Tree

" All yuh hear de news?" Alvin asked, as he came charging into the house.

"No!" Tina and I answered in unision.

" It doh make sense all yuh have radio and yuh ent listening.. Dey just pass a newsflash dat a man on top de Cable and Wireless Tower and he getting ready to jump....everybody gaddering to see! All yuh goin?"

" We only chillin' out here, so we mite as well make de lime," said Tina, my sister.

And so we all climbed into Alvin's green, rusted Volkswagen Beetle to head for downtown Port of Spain, which was normally a fifteen minute drive at that time of the day. The traffic flowed smoothly up until the Port Authority Building on Wrightson Road.Thereafter, it came to an abrupt standstill. Traffic flowed from neither direction and after an half an hour wait, sitting in the car, in the stifling noon day sun, we decided to pull aside and park the vehicle." We might as well foot it, because it not too far to de Tower," Alvin said.

We had not gone far on foot when we realised that traffic had come to a total standstill on all the streets leading to Independence Square, where the Tower was located. A huge crowd had gathered at the base of the Tower and some of the people were standing on the road, thus preventing the free flow of traffic. Because of the oppressive heat and in order to get a better view, people had abandoned their cars seats for the more advantageous positions on their car roofs. There was complete mayhem, with people pushing to get as close as possible to the Tower; emmergency vehicles stuck in the traffic, wailed their sirens , to no avail.
In time, by squeezing and pushing our way, we reached the front of the crowd at the base of the Tower. The Fire Department had cordoned off an area immediately around the base, within which, six groups of six firemen each, were in attendance with safety nets.The tenseness of the situation and the sweltering heat, aided by the dense crowd, were reflected on the faces of the Firemen. Beads of sweat poured down their foreheads..... into their eyes, down their cheeks and necks, soaking their shirts which stuck to their bodies. Their heads were turned upward and all eyes were focussed on the topmost platform of the tower.

High up, on the edge of this platform, the silhouette of a man stood out. He stood about 100 feet up, and was bare from the waist up. He held a red shirt in his right hand, which he waved over his head. He stood barefeet, his toes curled over the edge of the platform and for a moment, he appeared to have lost his balance. The shirt fell from his hand and fluttered down amidst the people below. A gasp went up from the crowd and the people stepped back in anticipation. The man moved away from the edge and the crowd breathed a sigh of relief.....
Midway up on the Tower, there was another smaller platform, on which stood two firemen with megaphones in hand, which they used to communicate with the man above.The man had threatened to jump if they attempted to climb any higher. He had also demanded food and water to quench his thirst.

" How do you expect us to bring you food and water and you don't want us to climb any further?"
asked one of the firemen.

"Yuh could leave it on dat platform and I will climb dong and get it myself....... but allyuh have to leave." the man replied.

"So what kind of food you would like?" the other fireman asked.

" Ah doh want no fast food! Gimme creole food....
some callalloo, pelau and ah tall glass ah cold mauby. If ah have to dead, ah want to go wid a full belly and wid someting ah like!" the man said.

" You do realise that it will take some time to get this food, because of the traffic jam you are causing," one of the firemen retorted.

" Ah doh give a fart where yuh have to get de food, but ah only giving all yuh half hour, to get it......after dat, ah goin' to FLY!" the man said.

One of the firemen started to speak into a two-way radio, while the other continued to speak to the man over the megaphone.

"Okay! We will try to get you the pelau, mauby, etcetra....."

" Who order etcetra? Is pelau, callalloo and mauby!' the man snapped.

"Okay! Callaloo," added the fireman, " but in the meantime you can at least tell us your name and why you want to jump from this height."

" Ah doh see why yuh have to know mih name. And who say ah going to jump? Is fly ah going to FLY! Like Superman! So allyuh could call mih Clark Kent," the man replied.

"So where are you from Clark Kent?"


" I am also from Maraval," said the fireman, trying to distract the man.

"And wat is your name? I know everybody in Maraval and I doh know yuh." the man said.

"My name is Andy Lopez, but we left Maraval since I was a boy." explained the fireman.

"De onliest Lopez ah know in Maraval, is Manuel. De biggest fowl tief it have."

" He is my uncle. So tell me, how long are you living in Maraval?" asked the fireman.

" Ah born, grow up and still living in Maraval..... in de same house mih great grandfadder uses to live in. Mih navelstring bury dey and is dey ah want to bury wen ah die.." Clark Kent said.

" Well, after you fly, I only hope there will be enough left of you to bury...." said the fireman.

"Yuh give mih someting to tink about, oui!"

"You had better think about it good before the food arrives...." added the fireman.

" Yuh see problem women does put yuh in? If it wasn't for Olga ah wodden be up here talking to yuh!" said Clark Kent.

" Yuh could talk as much as you want, I have all the time... so what has she done that is so bad, to make you want to fly?" asked the fireman.

" De fust mistake is dat ah marry she. She say dat de chile is mine, so as man, ah married she. But three months after, wen de chile born...white like a bakra johnny, ah start to get suspicious. She say dat de chile take on de Potogee side ah she family. Family , my ass! all dis time she making out wid dat Potogee fella wid de rumshop in de junction. All dis going on behind mih back!"

"And that is why you want to kill yourself?" asked the fireman.

" Who say ah want to kill mihself? Ah tell yuh arready ah goin' to fly........Look all dis talking making me real thirsty,oui! All yuh cyar bring de mauby fust? Dis damm sun real hot!" Clark Kent complained.

"But Clark, it's you who chose to be up here. You could have been down there enjoying an ice cold glass of mauby....." chimed in the fireman.

" So wat yuh tryin' to say, is my fault dat Olge run way from home and make me lose mih job wen ah buss up she tail after ah ketch she wid de man...
how much yuh want ah man to take? Now yuh insinuatin' dat is my fault!.... Look, forget de food, oui! Ah going to fly rite now!" said Clark Kent, moving to the edge of the platform.

"Wait! Wait!" shouted the fireman, " Don't do that, the food is here already. Please don't let us have to throw it away," pleaded the fireman.

" Okay! But tell dem to hurry....If is one ting, ah hate to see good food waste"

Below, the crowd was growing restless, because of the heat and the aparent 'inaction.' Someone shouted, "If yuh jumping, Jump! Doh make no grancharge!"

" All yuh tink ah grancharging, eh?" Clark Kent shouted back.

"Don't listen to that fool, Clark, he only wants that you make a spectacle of yourself " screamed the fireman to Clark Kent.

There was a scuffle in the crowd and an uproar as some of the onlookers turned on the man who had made the remark.

"Yuh have no damm shame! Yuh doh see is a man life yuh playin' wid?" screamed a woman at the man.

Suddenly someone cried out," Allyuh look! He going to Jump!"

All eyes turned to the tower. Clark Kent with eyes closed, stood on the edge of the platform and swayed to and fro as if going into a faint...... He started to pray aloud," De Lord is my shepherd..."

" Hold on'' shouted the fireman," The food is here!"
Clark Kent, opened his eyes and stepped back from the edge.

" Leave de food on de platform and allyuh fireman leave de platform." ordered Clark.

"Okay! Okay! But I want you to know that we were not able to get mauby, so we got you some KoolAid..."

"Wat yuh saying? Yuh mean to tell me in de whole ah Trinidad yuh cyar get a glass ah mauby? Well ah doh drink KoolAid....Ah go settle for soursop, juice, peanut punch, anything but KoolAid...," said Clark, " And do fast! All dis ole talk making me giddy"

Soon the food and drink were placed on the platform, which the firemen vacated. Gingerly, Clark decended from the upper platform and settled down to enjoy his last repast. He opened the food container, sniffed at it and tasted a spoonful, "De food cold!" he shouted," all yuh treating me like a real third class citizen! But food is food!" He proceeded to devour the meal ravenously with his fingers. As he ate, the crowd below looked on intently and from time to time, Clark threw the bones to the people below, as if in disgust. The meal finished, he washed it down with the drink in a single draught. He stood up, stretched his arms over is head, belched loudly and said," Just wat de doctor order!" With that, he proceeded to climb to the upper platform.

Once there, he stood on the edge and shouted to the crowd below," Ah have one last request to make! Lissen good..... Ah want all yuh to bring Olga here....yuh could find she at Ribiero Rum Shop in Maraval. Get she tail here in 1 hour sharp, odderwise ah go duttyup de place!"

" Man, yuh gettin' overbearing," somebody shouted from the crowd.

"And after dat yuh go want ah bed.....and after dat yuh go want ah piece a tail......" someone else added.

" So allyuh prefer ah fly now? Is okay by me....." shouted back Clark.

"No!" screamed the fireman who was now back on the lower platform,"We shall get her here.....but you will have to promise that there will be no further requests and that you will give up this idea of flying."

" Ah promise, no more request....but wether ah fly, will depend on Olga....." said Clark.

"Okay! we are going to get Olga here....Hold on... step back from the edge!" said the fireman.

" Look ah goin' to take ah little rest, to cool mih brains until Olga reach" Clark announced, stepping back from the edge. With that, he sprawled himself on the platform.

A buzz went up from the crowd. The people were becoming irritable feelng cheated out of a spectacle and being controlled by this obvious 'madman'.

"Man, dis is ridiculous! Is like dis man have everybody by dey balls! " an onlooker said.

" I feel he grancharging", said Tina.

" I feel he go keep arksing for more and more things. I feel we could end up camping out here!" Alvin chimed in.

" Imagine dis man, who know whey he come from, causing all dis commotion and traffic jam in de middle of Port of Spain..... and we here like damm fools, standing in de hot sun, catering to him..." another onlooker chimed in," Who mad? We or he?"

" But still, ah life is a life and we cyar just close we eye and believe it ent happening... We have to show ah little feelings for we fellow man.." a lady ventured.

" Dat good for allyuh! I going home before mih man reach home and eh find food on de table. Den is my arse to ketch! And wid all dis traffic jam ah have to walk from here to Gonsales." another lady cut in.

All around people were forecasting an outcome and commenting on the events that could have propelled Clark to his decision. Meanwhile on the peripheral of the Square, vendors were carrying out a brisk trade in snowcones, iced drinks, beer, peanuts, channa and 'doubles.' The crowd it appeared , had decided to follow this predicament through. It was well over an hour before the policemen arrived with a young woman and the fireman withthe bullhorn announced, "Clark Kent! Olga here!"

Clark Kent came to his feet and approached the edge of the platform, like a feature speaker approaching a podium to deliver his address. Somehow his silhouette seemed larger. He seemed calmer and in control. A deathly hush came over the crowd with eyes transfixed on the silhouette above.

" Olga! Ah want yuh to stand alone in front ah all de people! " he announced.

At first, Olga refused, but after some haggling with the Police and the Firemen, she moved forward and stood alone in front of the crowd, a megaphone in hand.

" Alec, ah here!" she announced.

"Olga, yuh tink ah love yuh? " he asked.

"Yes, Alec."

" Olga! Yuh tink ah mad?" he asked.

" No, Alec.."

" Yuh know why ah up here, Olga? " he asked.

" I dunno, Alec..."

" If ah tell yuh is because of YOU, yuh go believe mih? " he asked.

" But Alec, ah didn't arkse yuh to climb no pole...."

" Ah know dat yuh didn't arkse mih to climb no pole.... but yuh tink yuh treat mih fair, since ah know yuh? " he asked.

"I tink so..." she replied meekly.

" Well, doh tell me...ah want yuh to tell dese people here all dat happen between us since we meet. Doh keep back nutten. Today is Confession Day. Ah want dese people to decide if is YOU dat have mih here or not. If is YOU, ah want dem to decide your pennance. Den ah will come dong and surrender to de Police.... Odderwise... well" he said.

All eyes moved from the platform above and were now settled on Olga, who stood with her head bowed and her back turned to the crowd.

" Turn around and face de crowd, Olga!" Clark urged.

Ever so slowly, she turned to the crowd, her head still bent, as if focussing on some imaginary hole in the ground that she was about to sink into.

" Ah meet Alec in a Carnival fete in Bossiere two years ago, At de time ah was living St. James wid mih granmudder. Ah cyar say dat it was love at fus' sight for me, but ah tink dat Alec fall for me hard from de start. So after Carnival we started to go out and grease by grease, we start to get to know one annoder better. Ah even bring him home to meet mih granmudder. Well mih granmudder is de one who fall in love wid he at fus' sight. From de word go, Alec cyar do nutten wrong. Is my fault, ah didn't tell Alec ah had a boyfriend before he and ah was still seeing him. But seeing dat Alec ent suspeck nutten, ah just let tings continue. Tings was going real nice until ah find mihself in de family way and again is my fault. Ah didn't keep a check to know exackly who de chile father was. Of de two ah dem, I know dat Alec was de better man to settle dong wid, so ah tell Alec is his chile.....and so we start to prepare .... Alec as a man, straight away say he go marry me and we get married three months before de chile born. Allyuh ah shame to say dis but even after we get married, ah was still seeing Mario, dat is de odder fella. Yuh see, Mario had money and he uses to give me anything ah want but I know dat his family would never accept me because I not Potogee like dem. Anyways, as ah said before, tings was going real good and smooth until de chile born....."

She turned away from the crowd and looked up at Alec, standing on the platform above and said, "Alec believe me ah didn't want to hurt you, and ah didn't know yuh would take it so hard. and ah sorry....." She started sobbing. Alec stood above on the platform, looking down on her.

" Crocodile tears!" he said scornfully.

After awhile, she got her composure, again faced the crowd and continued.

"De chile come out ah dead Potogee and wen Mario father and Mother see it, is right away dey claim it. Dey say de chile resemble Mario great granfather in Portugal and was no way dey would let dere granchile ketch arse. So ah end up in a real mixup. But is my fault,,,.. If ah did keep ah good check ah woudda know from de start who de chile father was. Wen de chile born ah had to make up a cock an' bull story to tell Alec. So Ah tell he de chile, take by de Potogee side ah mih family. Alec believe mih.....Alec ah sorry ah lie to You!" Again she broke down crying, sobbing uncontrollably.

"Crocodile tears! Yuh so sorry and yuh leave mih still?" cried out Alec.

" But Alec, yuh doh know de pressure ah was under.... Mario parents want de chile so much dat dey was even planning to kidnap de chile and send it to Portugal.....Ah cudden stand to lose mih chile and dat is why ah had to leave yuh. Is not because ah doh love yuh! Ah begging yuh please forgive mih! Doh kill yusself! If is anybody to dead is me! Ah promise if yuh come dong, ah coming back to yuh!" she sobbed.

" Allyuh see de kinda spectacle dis woman putting me through?. Allyuh feel dat ah should believe she?" he asked the crowd.

"YEA!" the crowd shouted back.

" Well de people have spoke!" said Alec, "Dey believe dat you is de cause ah de problem. But wat is in it for me? Ah plate ah food and a glass ah soursop? Meanwhile de Potogee have de chile who carrying MY name and mih wife! Yuh tink ah doh have shame? De whole ah Maraval laffing at me. Wat happen ? I look like a Good Friday Bobolee? Olga, ah want yuh to know dat if ah decide to fly off dis tower today, is because of you and 'sorry' cyar pass dat over. Yuh go have to carry dat for de rest of yuh life. Yuh cyar get off so easy! Yuh say dat yuh coming back to me, but how ah could know yuh ent go leave me again tomorrow. How ah could trust yuh? Ah leaving it for de people here to decide wat to do, to end dis spectacle. Ah giving all yuh people, half hour to decide how to fix dis to my satisfaction. Just remember, Olga have to pay de cake too. I trust de people . Look, all ah dis talking have mih head giddy." Alec withdrew from the edge and sat down on the platform.

A huge sigh went up from the crowd as if relieved by the short reprieve.The relief of the people was short lived when they realised the responsibility with which they were faced. The crowd broke up into smaller groups to discuss the situation.

" All yuh doh see dis man mad? Suddenly dis is our problem. Now he making ah spectacle ah we!"
a woman said to all within earshot.

" And look at de pressure he putting we in? Half an hour! It go take dat long just to nominate a spokesman for dis crowd, " said another.

" All dese thousands ah people? We need at least a whole day!" yet another added.

" Yuh see where mih farseness have mih! Is well true, mih granmudder uses to say, " Curiousity kill de cat!' " a woman moaned.

A big, swarthy man, dressed in a City Council uniform , with a voice reminicent of Darth Vader
said, " Ah dont' know about allyuh, but I feel dat dis is a no win situation. In de fust place ah doh see how dis become my problem.....Olga done horn him, de chile is de Potogee man own.... We cyar change dat! She done say she sorry, and dat she going back wid him.... we cyar force her to stay wid him....besides it sounds as if he doh trust her.... So how come dis is my problem? Yuh know wat? gimme a chance and ah go solve dis!"
With a sudden lunge, he pushed through the crowd and headed to the front, grabbed the megaphone from Olga's hand and spoke to the crowd.

"People, we doh have time to haggle and discuss... We only have a few minutes to come to a decision. Ah arsking allyuh to trust me on dis. Let mih talk to Alec on behalf of everybody. Ah have experience in dese tings... Trust me..!" the City Council worker shouted.

He then turned toward the Tower and called "Alec! We reach ah decision......"

High up on the platform, the silhouetted figure of Alec, appeared.

" Yes! Ah listening!" he said.

" Alec, we de people, know dat yuh went thru ah hard time....and Olga done own up to dat... She done say she sorry. She even say she willing to make up wid yuh, if yuh come dong. We know yuh doh trust her, so yuh leave it up to us, de people, to make a decision for yuh, but it must be a decision yuh could live wid...... we cannot give you a guarantee dat Olga will stay wid you for de rest of yuh life, and we cyar force her to do so. Yuh have to realise it ent have no guarantee in life but Alec yuh want us, de people, to give yuh some kinda surety. Alec, in life yuh have to trust somebody. Since we cyar give yuh any guarantee wid Olga and we know dat yuh have trust in us, is only one ting we could tell yuh........
JUMP! ...........WE WILL CATCH YOU!"

Alec, once known as Clark Kent, gingerly climbed down the Tower. Alloy, September 26, 1999.

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