“You should write a calypso,” said Mahabir, a tall, lanky, fair skinned East Indian technician.
“Me?” Juggernaut was surprised.
“I have trouble writing a research paper, let alone a calypso.”
“Most Calypsonians were common folks, some never went to school, you know,” said Mahabir in a matter of fact way.
“How about calypsonian Chalkdust?”
“Well, he was a teacher.” Mahabir agreed.
“You lived in Trinidad long enough to write a calypso.” Mahabir was insistent.
After several days trying to concentrate, Juggernaut came out empty in writing a single line.
“Every time I try writing lyrics for calypso, Hari Om Sharan Hindu Bhajans comes to mind,” complained Juggernaut.
“Boy, all you think is about Bhajans and Baigan Bhajji you know,” ridiculed Mahabir.
“I know, I just can’t get rid of Hari Om Sharan Bhajans, they stuck in my mind,” “I hope he will drop some lines for me to write a calypso.”
“To write a calypso you have to get into a mood,” said Mahabir lighting a Broadway cigarette, his favorite brand, strong but a cheap brand.
“Shall I smoke a cigarette to get into mood?”
“No, boy, you have to think about women,” “Calypso is all about love and women.” Mahabir let dense smoke out through his nostrils.
“Instead sitting at your desk, stand near the window and watch the girls walk by,” “Look so many pretty girls walking towards the computer center,” said Mahabir rushing towards the large window next to the PH meter.
“Just looking at girls won’t create any lyrics in my mind,” Juggernaut ran behind Mahabir to watch the girls.
“No, but then you get into a mood to concentrate and then lyrics will follow.” “Let me tell you, it is like inoculating culture media with Rhizobium in a Petri dish,” Mahabir was known for his inoculating skills in the lab, even senior scientists seek his help to grow pure cultures.
“I don’t know, Hari Om Sharan still lingers in my mind.”
“Girls will slowly replace Hari Om Sharan, keep watching girls.” Mahabir walked away to his lab next door.
After several attempts writing lyrics in between distillations and titrations, Juggernaut wrote a few lyrics for calypso.
“Mahabir, I wrote a calypso, you want to hear?” shouted Juggernaut from his desk to Mahabir in the next room.
“Let me hear,” Mahabir came running.
Juggernaut started reading:“Your skin is as soft as Aripo fine sand.”“Your body is as firm as hardened Brasso clay.”“Your cheeks are red like Maracas red soil.” “Your hair is black and silky like wet Princes Town black clay.” “But relationship with you is like stepping into Nariva swamp.”
“Boy, that sounds good, I know you can do it if you put your mind to it,”“you named Trinidad soil types too in the lyrics” Mahabir looked surprised.
“Yeah, is it not something, I came to do Ph.D., on soils of Trinidad and wrote a calypso on Trinidad soil types,” Juggernaut surprised himself for his lyrics.
“Now, we have to name the calypso,” Mahabir lighted a Broadway.
“Ummm, how about Terra Woman,” Juggernaut blurted out.
“What is Terra?”
“I believe Terra means earth,” Juggernaut was not sure.
“It sounds good.”“Now we have to think about a fancy name for you as a Calypsonian.” Mahabir really getting into it.
“You mean like Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, Lord Shorty, Shadow and others,” Juggernaut listed his favorite Calypsonians.
“How about Mighty Indian,” shouted Juggernaut?
“Crazy Indian,” Mahabir corrected instantly.
“Boy, I love that name,” Juggernaut started jumping up and down in the lab.
“A calypso needs a catchy phrase at the end of each line for chorus.”
“Listen to this,” Juggernaut started reading loud his calypso.
“Your skin is as soft as Aripo fine sand, Terra Woman,”
“Your body is as firm as hardened Brasso clay, Terra Woman,”
“Your cheeks are red like Maracas red soil, Terra Woman,”
“Your hair is black and silky like wet Princes Town black clay, Terra Woman,”
“But relationship with you is likestepping into Nariva swamp, Terra Woman,”
“Terra Woman, is the catch phrase, I like it.” “Now, you cannot stand still and sing a calypso you know, you have to dance like this,” Mahabir showed his fancy foot work.
“I can’t sing, let alone dance.”
“The dance routine for Calypsonians is not complicated.” “One step forward, one step backward, and a step sideways, then make a 360 degree roundabout on your heelswith your arm stretched forward as if explaining something, that’s about it,” born in Trinidad, Mahabir understood the routine good.
In between conducting labs for undergrads and his own research work, Juggernaut practiced singing his calypso “Terra Woman,” dancing as if explaining to his students in the lab.
Mahabir’s work routine changed gradually, he came to work late and left early, sometimes skipping work altogether. When he came to work, he kept to himself and hardly dropped by Juggernaut, and never mentioned about calypso.Word got around that Mahabir’s wife Premati ran away with a man to St. Joseph not even a year after marrying Mahabir. It was a devastating blow to Mahabir who fancied himself as a saga boy (lady’s man).Mahabir’s boss, a British expatriate scientist was very kind and gave time off to Mahabir to recover, but Mahabir got into heavy rum drinking and never recovered.Whenever he came to work, his eyes were red and looked tired either from heavy drinking or lack of sleep or both.Then he stopped coming to work for good.
Everybody in the lab missed Mahabir and his stylish cigarette smoking and spontaneous jokes. Juggernaut was saddened to see his friend went down the tubes.In remembering Mahabir, Juggernaut once in a while sang his calypso “Terra Woman” dancing with his hand stretched and spinning on his heels, once fell almost knocking down the distillation set on the lab counter. That was the last time he danced singing calypso.
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