They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. But we were not in their ranks.
The Lord make no distinction between black and white. Black and white the same for Him.
Old time white people nothing but white nigger now, and black nigger better than white nigger.
And if the razor grass cut my legs and arms I would think ‘It’s better than people.’ Black ands or red ones, tall nests swarming with white ants, rain that soaked me to the skin— once I saw a snake. All better than people. Better. Better, better than people.
I was bridesmaid when my mother married Mr. Mason in Spanish Town...their eyes slid away from my hating face. I had heard what all these smooth smiling people said about her when she was not listening and they did not guess I was.
Mr. Mason did not approve of Aunt Cora, an ex-slave-owner who had escaped misery, a flier in the face of Providence.
No one had ever spoken to me about obeah— but I knew what I would find if I dared to look.
You have lived alone far too long, Annette. You imagine enmity which doesn’t exist. Always one extreme or the other. Didn’t you fly at me like a little wild cat when I said nigger. Not nigger, nor even negro. Black people I must say... they’re too damn lazy to be dangerous, I know that.’
‘They are more alive than you are, lazy or not, and they can be dangerous and cruel for reasons you wouldn’t understand.’
We stared at each other, blood on my face, tears on hers. It was as if I saw myself. Like in a looking-glass.
‘Such terrible things happen. Why? Why?’
‘You must not concern yourself with that mystery. We do not know why the devil must have his little day. Not yet.’
This a very wild place — not civilized. Why you come here?
If she were taller, one of these strapping women dressed up to the nines, I might be afraid of her.
As for my confused impressions they will never be written. There are blanks in my mind that cannot be filled up.
I take up my pen after long thought and meditation but in the end the truth is better than a lie...you have been shamefully deceived by the Mason family...That girl she look you straight in the eye and talk sweet talk— and it’s lies she tell you. Lies.
But they are white, I am coloured. They are rich, I am poor.
Woman must have spunks to live in this wicked world.
These people are very vulnerable. How old was I when I learned to hide how I felt? A very small boy.
But I cannot go. He is my husband after all.
All women, all colours, nothing but fools. Three children I have. One living in this world, each one a different father, but no husband, I thank my God. I keep my money. I don’t give it to no worthless man.
It doesn’t matter what I believe or you believe, because we can do nothing about it.
Justice. I’ve heard the word. It’s a cold word. I tried it out...I wrote it down. i wrote it down several times and always it looked like a damn cold lie to me. There is no justice...My mother whom you all talk about, what justice did she have? My mother sitting in the rocking-chair speaking about dead horses and dead grooms and a black devil kissing her sad mouth.
I was tired of these people. I disliked their laughter and their tears, their flattery and envy, conceit and deceit. And I hated the place. I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers and the rain. I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know. I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and loveliness.
The rumours I’ve heard— very far from the truth. But I don’t contradict, I know better than to say a word. After all the house is big and safe, a shelter from the world outside which, say what you like, can be a black and cruel world to a woman. Maybe that’s why I stayed on...Yes, maybe that’s why we all stay— Mrs Eff and Leah and me. All of us except that girl who lives in her own darkness. I’ll say one thing for her, she hasn’t lost her spirit. She’s still fierce. I don’t turn my back on her when her eyes have that look. I know it.
What am I doing in this place and who am I?