A very short drive
separates the rural and urban areas on the island but again the
island is small.A dirt road quickly turns into a four-lane
highway, all of a sudden high rise apartments, office buildings,
and shopping malls would appear just like that. To get away from
campus life, on weekends Juggernaut visited his friend Esau
living in the outback.Surrounded by cocoa and orange groves, Esau
lived in their ancestral home with extended family.The red dirt
road in front of the house twists and turns like a flexible hose.
On one corner of the big bend was Roy's rum shop cum grocery.
Here one can get staples for daily living and also aspirin and
Roy inherited the
rum shop from his dead uncle. His uncle has no family; he lived
alone in the back of his rum shop. Just before he died, Roy was
informed of a distant uncle living on eastern side of the island.
Roy, then in late twenties has no experience of running a
business or for that matter of experience in doing anything
except liming. He arrived at Cummuto, a small sleepy village on
Eastern side of the island.May be a twenty miles drive easterly
from Cummuto, the road would end up in a freshwater swamp known
for shell fish. Always wearing sleeveless white undershirt and
flimsy boxer shorts, Roy walked barefooted inside and outside the
shop.His skimpy clothes exposed his pale skin and thin limbs. He
was never in a hurry. He spoke and moved slowly, everything he
did was in slow motion.
The rum shop was a
rectangle shape wooden structure with galvanized metal roof
pained green to match the surrounding bush. The long front porch
was storage as well as space for people to lime (hanging
out).Liming is a way of passing time for people on the island
rich in oil reserves.When other countries spent millions for
making coal tar to use on road surface, on this island, coal tar
oozes out from the ground. And yet the rural roads badly need
foreign accent attracted more attention at the rum shop.Roy in
particular treated Juggernaut as a special guest offering free
drinks all the time. Juggernaut favorite spot in the bar was on
top of a stack of flour bags at the corner. Sitting few feet
above ground, he used to sip beer or rum or whatever drinks Roy
offered for free. Roy an habitual drinker himself was always
holding a drink in his hand while serving customers.
Esau, Daddy and Doc
were regular visitors to the rum shop but were also buddies to
Roy. Daddy and Doc were only nicknames, Daddy worked in public
works department and Doc drove a cab.Esau worked on the
University campus as a technician. On weekend, Juggernaut joined
the gang at Roy's rumshop.
After closing the
shop, Roy like to hang out with Esau, Daddy, Doc and Juggernaut
when he was visitingCummuto.
"We go for hunting
tonight," said Roy.
"We are going to
forest to hunt?" excited Juggernaut.
"No, boy, we can
hunt for Agouti or Opossum whichever comes first right in our
Bare footed, Roy
started walking in his boxer shorts with an old gun that was
rusty and ancient. Juggernaut followed him into the bushes. After
walking for half hour, "boy, I shot an Agouti," shouted Roy
holding a small animal in his hand.
"That's look a big
rat," Juggernaut stood far away from the animal.
"No boy, it is
Agouti, it taste good good when curried," Roy placed the dead
animal in a plastic bag and started walking back home.Juggernaut
Placing the dead
animal on a raised wooden platform like structure outside the
kitchen to clean it up Roy said "you go call Esau, Doc and Daddy
to come for the cook up."
"Why you want her
for?" Roy looked puzzled.
"I don't know she
always want to lime with us."
"You mean with
you," Roy smiled.
including me." Juggernaut was defensive.
"OK, go call her
too," Roy started cleaning the Agouti.
Esau, Daddy, Doc
and Lucksy live not too far from Roy's rum shop. Every time
Juggernaut visits rum shop, Lucksy make special attempt to visit
the shop just to meet Juggernaut. She was a chubby, fair-skin
Indian woman in late twenties, worked as a clerk in local
With a small knife,
Roy ripped opened the underbelly and threw out the innards, and
skinned the animal in few minutes."Esau don't want curry he wants
stew with tomatoes, scallion and soy sauce," said Juggernaut
arranging the dinner plates on a wooden table cluttered with nick
"He said you put
too much hot pepper in the curry that makes him shit like a
"OK, I will make a
stew for him and curry for all of us then," Roy started cooking
in two separate pots.
Lucksy was first to
arrive and all excited to see Juggernaut.
"What kind of a
name Lucksy, that doesn't sound Indian?" Juggernaut tried to
start a conversation.
"Well, my daddy
calls me Lucksy because he thinks I brought good luck to his taxi
business just after I born," Lucksy sounded proud.
"I love people from
came from India and I love Indian movies and you came from India
too, that's why," Locksie was not shy.
Roy started playing
old Indian melodies on the record player.
"You dance with
me," Lucksy started dancing Indian style.
"I don't know how
to dance Indian," Juggernaut was shy.
"You just follow
me," Lucksy started waving her hands in the air as if she is
changing light bulbs.
"I know how to jump
for calypso, rock back and forth for reggae and slow dance for
Carpenters and Abba music," said juggernaut and started slow
dancing with Lucksy holding her closely.
"This is dance
music boy you don't dance holding her like that," shouted Esau
"How come you are
from India and you don't know how to dance Indian?" said
"I never did Indian
"Just look at me,
raise one hand and twist your arm as if you are replacing a light
bulb and place your other hand on the hip, then twist your hips
sideways, that's it,' Lucksy started dancing Indian style for a
song by Asha Bonsle, a noted female singer known for dance
"Are you going stay
here after your done your studies?" Lucksy was curious.
"Your are going
professors, Cricket players and business men from other countries
come here for a short visit and stay put forever here you know,"
"This country is sweet sweet, where else you can get gas this
"I don't have a
"Well, you will
have once you get a job."
"What you don't
like here?" Lucksy was persistent.
"I love this place
but I don't want to live here."
"Where you are
planning to go then?"
"I don't know,
anywhere I get a job outside this island."
"So you don't like
"I stayed long
enough here, I have to go."
"You kind of a
"You can say
Juggernaut got busy
in finishing thesis work, for several weeks he did not visit
Cummuto.Before he left the island to take up a job in a distant
island, he visited Cummuto to say good bye to his friends at
Roy's rum shop. He was disappointed not see Lucksy around. Roy
looked pale and sickly. After few years, Juggernaut revisited the
small island on a job related trip. Roy shop was closed for good,
Roy died from the complication of liver disease. Doc, the taxi
driver died in an accident on a narrow winding road along the
eastern coast. Daddy migrated to the United States and started a
new life operating a Roti shop in Brooklyn, New York.Esau
continued his job on the University Campus."What happened to
Lucksy?" asked Juggernaut."She moved to the City, never saw her
again," said Esau.
"I wish I learned
Indian dancing from Lucksy," a thought comes to Juggernaut
whenever he replaces a light bulb.