Two school boys, Joseph and Donald who migrated from the sugar estate and settled at the land settlement, left the school at the sugar estate and started attending the new school at the settlement. This was a bigger school catering for children from the settlement and neighbouring villages. It was one sunny day when school was dismissed earlier than usual that the two boys decided to visit an old friend at the school in the sugar estate.
The two boys walked briskly westward along Cow Dam and proceeded towards the railway track. Just before the railway track was a trench which they boys had to cross before reaching the railway track. The water in the trench was about knee deep at the point of crossing and was cool as a result of the overhanging mango tree. Slowly the boys waded through the water.
Joseph saw a sealed bottle with a piece of paper in it floating in the water and shouted, “Hey, look at this pretty bottle. It has something in it.” Grabbing the bottle, he said, “Let me see what is in it.” By then they were on the railway track.
“You don’t know what is in it. Throw away the bottle.” Donald advised his friend.
“That is why I have to open it. I want to know what is on the paper.” Joseph said.
“Ok, ok,” said Donald. “Burst the bottle and see what is written on the paper.”
Joseph struck the bottle on the railway line. It broke open. There was a hissing sound, a sweet scented smell around the place and a misty vapour which quickly disappeared. “Your heard that?” asked Joseph.
“You smelt the perfume?” Donald said.
“You saw the mist that came out of the bottle?” both of them asked at the same time.
“O me God, what have you done Joseph? You released the spirit in the bottle.” Donald said. “Let us see what is in the paper.”
Donald picked up the paper from the ground and unfolded it. There was fear in his eyes.
“What is it?” enquired Joseph.
“It is a lock of hair,” replied Donald throwing away the paper with the hair. “It could be that the spirit in the bottle was buried under the mango tree and somehow it washed away in the trench.” Donald said. “I hope the spirit does not follow us.” He continued.
Joseph and Donald trotted southward along the railway line until they reached Salt Water Trench. This trench is used to drain excess water from the estate to the sea when the tide is low by means of a koker or sluice gate. To cross the trench, the boys slowly walked on the planks supporting the railway line over the culvert.
“I think someone is following us.” Joseph told Donald. “Do you have the same feeling?” he enquired.
On reaching the other side of the culvert, they continued westward along the Salt Water Dam avoiding the cattle that were grazing along the dam, until they reached Side Line Dam from where they headed southward until they reached a narrow wooden bridge about 2 feet wide across the Side Line Trench. When several persons walked on it at the same time or if a person walked briskly across the bridge, it started to shake. There was a handrail on both sides of the bridge for safety. Donald stepped on the bridge first followed by Joseph. When Donald was about half way across the bridge, he started to run across the other half. This caused the bridge to shake and Joseph to lose his balance and fall about 10 feet below into the murky water. Luckily for him, the water was not too high in the trench. The head of an alligator was seen at the other side of the trench and the creature was swimming towards Joseph.
Donald shouted to Joseph, “Swim back to the other end. An alligator is coming towards you.”
Meanwhile Donald took a piece of stick and pelted it at the alligator. The alligator submerged its head slightly under the water and was heading towards Joseph. Seeing that Joseph was in danger, Donald ran back on the bridge with a piece of stick and jumped into the water between the alligator and Joseph. He started to strike at the water with the stick to scare the alligator. Meanwhile Joseph swam to the other side and reached on the bank where he waited for Donald who continued hitting at the water with the stick while manoeuvring himself to reach Joseph. Suddenly the alligator emerged from under the water and snapped at the stick. Donald released the stick and frantically struggled and reached bank. Luckily, Joseph managed to pull him out to safety just in time when the alligator raised its head and tried to snap at him. They both scrambled onto the dam where they sat for a while badly traumatized.
They then proceeded southward under some tall and bushy trees and then along a bushy track leading to the school. Through a hole in the barbed wire fence, they entered the school compound. It was lunch time and the children of the school were playing in the compound. They met some of their old friends to whom they narrated what happened.
Allan and Jason decided to accompany Joseph and Donald to No 17 to pick guavas. No 17 was an area with several fruit trees and lots bushes. It was said to be haunted at noon and at nights. There were stories of appearances of tigers during the night because of cattle in the area. The four boys left the school compound and headed for the school street and continued southward to the main road from where they continued eastward. They crossed the bridge over the Side Line Dam and then went over the Koker Bridge and trotted southward along Side Line Dam until they reached the water mill. They passed the water mill and headed along the dam leading to No 17. After about a mile, they crossed a very narrow plank over a trench which was overgrown with weeds. On the other side were the fruit trees. It was rumoured that certain large trees, such mango and tamarind were haunted by Dutch spirits. If anyone urinate or curse under a tree around noon where a spirit resided, the spirit would follow the person and haunt that person at nights.
The boys walked quickly along the tracks until they reached an area with several guava trees laden with ripe guavas. Without wasting any time they climbed the trees picking selected guavas, eating and filling their pockets at the same time. They were talking loudly to one another. Suddenly there was a rush of wind and the trees swayed for a short while.
“You all felt that heavy breeze?” asked Allan of the boys.
“Hold on to the branch.” Joseph shouted.
The boys continued talking and moved from tree to tree. All of a sudden they heard pieces of dirt passing through the branches and landed on the ground. They boys thought that some men who were returning home wanted to frighten them and pelted dirt at them because they were shouting. Donald jumped down the tree and looked for the dirt so that he could pelt them back over the trees at whoever was walking along the dam.
“I cannot see any dirt.” He shouted to his friends.
“Are you sure?” another asked. “You looked carefully?” He continued.
“I am going to see who pelt us.” Jason told his friends. He quickly came down the tree and rushed to an open area but there was no one around. “I did not see anybody.” He told his friends.
They continued to pick guavas. Unexpectedly again, there was the sound of pieces of dirt passing through the branches and landing on the ground. The boys became scared and quickly came down the trees and headed for the dam. To their utter astonishment, there was no one.
“I am sure it was a jumbie that pelted us because we did not see any stones or dirt on the ground.” Jason remarked.
“Hey! It is midday. This is the time the spirits roam.” Allan explained. “Let us hurry back to school.
Copyright © Frank Ramtahal, 2011