By Marlon Bute
The train zoomed by buildings, trees and a lazy lake. It darted through a tunnel. It climbed over two bridges. It passed cars and buses and pedestrians and it awakened a sleeping town. It passed a pasture where cows grazed. It passed an old man with a fishing rod swung over his left shoulder and an old three-legged dog that followed him gingerly.
The train continued on its way, racing past an orange sun as it sank below the lake. The train stopped at platforms where passengers disembarked and others hurried on.
Ramnarine was on that train. He was seated near to an elderly man who seemed to Ramnarine to be talking with out cease. Whenever he rode the train, Ramnarine would sit by the window and take in the changing scenery as it whisked by.
The rasp voice of his fellow traveller broke his thoughts.
“Where you heading to young fellow?”
“No way special. I just like to sit on the train and take a ride and clear my mind sometimes.”
The old traveller chuckled. Ramnarine looked at him. He had a chubby face that was covered in scruffy grey hair and a good set of teeth that looked like they had been filed.
“Young fellow like you shouldn’t have anything worrisome on your mind.”
The old man stroked his beard before continuing.
“Where you from?” He didn’t wait for Ramnarine to reply.
“Don’t tell me. You are from Pakistan. You are thinking about your family there right? I bet you are going to bring them over.”
It wasn’t the first time that Ramnarine was being told that he was Pakistani. He wondered if the old traveller had ever heard of Trinidad and Tobago.
“I am Trini.” he started, before stopping himself and saying, “ I am Trinidadian.”
“ So what are you doing here? You people have a lot of beaches and sun all year round. I would be there if I was you.”
Ramnarine wasn’t about to tell the old traveller his story. He wasn’t in the habit of opening up to anyone, much less to an old stranger who thought that he was Pakistani.
“You can’t eat the sand and you can’t eat the sun.” Ramnarine replied.
“Where you from?” Ramnarine asked.
The old traveller looked at Ramnarine as if puzzled by his question.
“What you mean? I am from right here. Canadian born and bred.”
Ramanrine smiled, his question getting the expected reply.
He continued. “ But where are your parents from, what’s your background?”
It was the old man’s turn to smile. Nodding his head understandingly, he said that his parents were from England and had moved to Canada over 60 years ago. Ramnarine had just reminded him that he was also an immigrant.
The old traveller with the grey beard bade Ramnarine farewell at the next stop. Ramnarine nodded. He was already deep in thought that a nod was all he could proffer. It occurred to him that he should visit Trinidad. He hadn’t had a vacation since he arrived in Toronto, choosing instead to work all through the year. He hadn’t been used to taking one when he was home, either. But, back then he was working for himself and admittedly, he had a far more relaxed life than he had now.
Dusk fell and the train passed a forest. Music drifted from a log cabin in a clearing in the middle of the forest. A tall blond man was chopping wood. Inside the cabin was Seetha; her long black hair was wrapped in a white towel. She had just washed her hair and was humming to a tune on the radio as she prepared dinner.
- Name two animals that were unseen in Bourgainville’s forest.
- What was the name of Seetha’s lover and where was he from?
- Which city did Seetha like to frequent and did she get home at nights?
- What kind of worker was Ramnarine?
- For the most part, how did Ramnarine get home after work? Recount one of his journeys home in your own words.
Kindly email answers to [email protected] along with address, telephone number. Winners may be asked to submit photo for publication.
Prizes are redeemable at Jujube Bookstore.