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Rice and chicken

Published:Sunday | December 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Paul H. Williams, Contributor

For several weeks, Doreen, a robust, black-skinned woman, was afflicted with an ailment that caused her to lose much weight. From doctor to doctor she went, and they prescribed all sorts of medicines, but there was no end to her suffering.

She had no children, and lived alone for many years, after her husband, Quinton, left her to live with a woman called Apple, in a little board house not very far from hers, which was a big house, the envy of many, who wondered why her husband would leave it to shack up with Apple, who had five fatherless children.

It turned out that the children all belonged to Doreen's husband, who died mysteriously after living with Apple for only a month.

Shortly after Quinton died, Doreen herself got ill. Her failure to get well was the talk of the district, in which an old man named Zacky lived.

Zacky had developed a reputation for being a 'four-yeye' man, one who could see things that other mortals couldn't. But his left eye was blind, and he survived only by what his 'clients' gave him after a 'read-up', and by doing odd jobs in the community.

He knew about Doreen's illness and one day, after chopping her yard, he sat on Doreen's step, and chatted with her, as she reclined on a long chair on the veranda.

"Dat ting not normal, enuh, Ma'am," Zacky stated in a mysterious tone.

"Mi know, but what to do?" a frustrated Doreen replied.

"Well, well, mi know what to do."

"How yuh mean? Afta yuh not a doctor!"

"But yuh know I see tings."

"So dem say, but mi nuh pay dat no mine."

"Well, if yuh want to get betta, mi know what to do."

"Doctor cyaan get mi betta, so how yuh going to help mi."

"Dis bigga dan docta ... ."

"So yuh bigga dan docta?"

"Mi nuh say soh, but is Apple in yuh life ... ."

"Apple? Why yuh bringing har up fah, and yuh know a not well? Quinton done dead, so why yuh bringing up all of dis fah?"

"Because she want de house."

"Which house?!"

"Dah wan yah."

They stared at each other for a while, then Doreen, weakly, slowly sat up, and asked sternly, "What yuh just say?"

Zacky told Doreen it was Apple who set Quinton's duppy on her, to kill her, so that Doreen and Quinton's five children could move into Doreen's house. He told her to leave a pot of rice and chicken, Quinton's favourite food, on the steps every night. The duppy, he said, would be so tired after eating the food, it would have no time to trouble her.

Doreen, always sceptical about duppies and their powers, pondered over what Zacky told her. She was reluctant to comply, but she was tired of being ill.

The first night when Doreen peeped through her window to see if the duppy was really going to eating the rice and chicken, she was just in time to see a man, looking so much like Zacky, coming through her gate with the pot in which she had put the food. As Zacky laid the pot down, he looked at the front door, then turned and bolted through Doreen's gate. She spent the rest of the night sleepless, for nobody knew the trouble she saw.

The following morning she returned to the doctor for the result of another test. On her way, she didn't see Zacky who was always at the bar in the early morning drinking rum. Her heart skipped several beats, and she sighed loudly.

At the doctor, she was told that she had hyperthyroidism, which had been speeding up her metabolic rate, thus the excessive weight loss, and general feeling of listlessness. Her heart skipped some more beats, and she sighed some more. The doctor thought she was relieved, because she finally found out what was wrong with her. Medication and other treatments were prescribed, and Doreen left the doctor's office with one more big sigh.


When she reached the bar where Zacky frequented, there was a big gathering. People were talking quietly, and looking quite sombre. The car in which she was travelling stopped. The driver asked loudly, "Is wha app'n?"

"Nuh, Zacky, sah," an old woman answered.

"Wha app'n to him?"

"Dem no find him dead, look like poison."

"Rahtid! A soon come, mek mi drop off Miss Doreen."

"Ah bwoy!" Miss Doreen sighed, as the driver moved off.

After the driver helped her on to her veranda and sped off to join the gathering, Doreen slowly walked to her bathroom, reached for the poison, some of which she had put into the rice and chicken to kill Quinton's duppy, for she was not going to feed him chicken and rice every night, after what he did to her. Then she lifted the toilet seat.