He scaled the fence faster than a monkey and blasted up the mango tree like a squirrel. We readily awaited the mangoes, our eyes fixated on the juicy, oblong fruits on the tree that we forgot to be a look-out for Mr.Buckner, the mango tree owner. We heard the sudden halt of the Bicycle brakes and dashed down the street at lightning speed leaving Brawdy alone in the Mango Tree to face Mr. Buckner’s wrath.
Five minutes later and Brawdy’s mother huffed and puffed her way up the street, with a beach towel wrapped around her waist, still wearing her night gown, and bra less in the afternoon sun. The smoke chimneying from her ears and nostrils told us there would be ‘bangarang’ in the community that evening. Mr. Buckner was furious that Brawdy climbed the tree without his permission and worse he had the audacity to come over the fence and not through the gate. Mr. Buckner spoke in harsh tones and said. ” A that’s why them grow come tun thief and murderer. A train them a train from now fe come over people yard come take them things when them not home and see the mumma a run a come cuss me now”
He did get a good tongue lashing from Brawdy’s mother who chided Mr. Buckner for calling down “disgrace on her son” over few measly mangoes on a tree. She emphasized that she was not “deading” for hungry.
Mr. Buckner retorted. ” A that’s why police end up shoot them cause when them do wrongs unoo shield them and cuss people instead of showing them the err in their ways”
I was somewhat embarrassed by what happened and my father warned us about taking things from people’s yard without asking for it. I understood what he meant now.I was there and I agreed for Brawdy to risk going over the fence for the mangoes therefore I was just as culpable as him. Brawdy called names and told his mother “who and who” were with him and would benefit from the loot. His mother hissed.
“And the whole a them gone left you. You seet say company anno good something though? That is why you must low friend”.
Brawdy got several quick slaps leveled at the back of his head and shoves in the direction of his home as his mom shot daggers our way. We huddled behind the Hibiscuses and prayed our parents did not find out that we somehow contributed to the uproar.
I learnt a few things from that experience and in retrospect Mr. Buckner’s response was hurting but may hold several truths to it. Today Brawdy is laying in a tomb in the Cemetery, gunned down a few years ago by unknown assailants. I am not saying Brawdy is dead because he stole mangoes as a kid. Raiding fruit trees was all the rave for children growing up in the early nineties.I think his mother did a poor job of parenting by cussing off Mr Buckner instead of asking Brawdy to apologize to the man. She behaved like many parents did; who instead of doing what is right are more concerned about saving face and winning an argument.
Brawdy spent his short life “brucking shop, terrorizing people’s building materials and being an all around petty criminal”. Every time someone went to his mother about what he did, she would “cuss and galang” bad, run people from her gate and “nyam Bible leaf” say ” a lie dem a tell pon her pickney. Sometimes she would say a free things and how nobody do not want it so the boy should “use up free things”. Other times when things looked serious and the boy was guilty for police found the goods in his possessions, she would walk up and down with her hands on her head and beg for mercy from the victims. She would say. ” A the whole a we live yah so make we just put it good.” The victims knowing Brawdy from he was a little boy would drop the charges and Brawdy would boast that they did it because they were afraid of him and “what and what” he could do if anyone ever testified against him. Before the week was out, Brawdy would take something again.
In hindsight, I thought about what his mother said on that day with the “Mango business”. She had exposed a way of thinking when she established that if we lived in the same area then it was okay to take something without permission. It is this licky licky mentality and sense of entitlement that lends credence to the idea that if people look like them have it and refuse to share it, then we should take it. Brawdy’s mom thought it was okay to take the mangoes because Mr. Buckner had “people a fahrin”, his fence made of concrete and his house was big.
She opined that the mangoes were not worth anything and that Mr. Buckner ‘neva haffi a gwaan so’ but she like many parents missed the principle aspect of the argument. It was not so much about the mangoes, it was because he took it, breached the privacy of someone else’s home and had the nerve to give Mr. Buckner profanity on top of it. Brawdy knew what he did was wrong, he just did not think it was wrong. Herein lies the problem with people who perpetrate crimes. They know they might get caught and punished but it is not nearly enough of a deterrent when ‘Mommy ago come bail them and carry KFC come give them inna Jail.’
Brawdy’s luck ran out. His mother missed the memo. While people in the district would forgive or overlook his thievery because he was Mass Cecile’s grandson and they know him “before him bawn”. People who did not know about Brawdy’s family and how much of a ‘good people’ his grandparents were wanted justice when he stole anything.
Police stopped listening to the pleas of his mother who bawled that he was an innocent bwoy because everybody knew that when he took anything or he was paid for a hit, he gave her the money. She would cry on the road and beg contributions to bring something for him in Jail. She said. ” Mi no know mi son as no wanted man”
She was building a mansion and sending her other children to school on blood money. People murmured that if she had nipped that boy in the bud from he was a ‘likkle fingasmith’ then he might be alive today. His mother they claimed, ‘ bruck him bad’.
Now every tub has to stand up on its own bottom. And just as how Brawdy was left alone that day with the mangoes, he was found alone on a dirt trail with several gunshot wounds. No one cried but Brawdy’s mother and the community albeit sympathetic towards her for everyone knew that ‘mother belly deceitful’ sighed with relief that the terrorist was finally put to rest. Mr. Buckner rested his arms along the fence and uttered in the earshot of the wailing mother who kept him malice since the day her son was caught on his mango tree. “Any mother weh fail to give people justice when them pickney do wrongs shall bury them. You think a everybody like you or know your family and ago come seek recompense and put good when your boy do things? You have some people out there who do not know your family and don’t care and II believe a them take him life.”
The mother shook her head, slapdashed up the street, bumper wheeling and dashing, and using a rag to wipe the mucous that drained from her nostrils onto her upper lip. Mr. Buckner shouted. ” Sorry for your loss but you mothers put up with too much slackness.” I felt sorry for Brawdy’s mother but she was not innocent of the fate that met her son. I mumbled a ” Good Morning” to Mr. Buckner. He looked at me as I trudged pass him in my Community College uniform and threw me a crooked smile. ” The world is a better place without that bwoy. If a did up to me alone. All lacka them would not even born.”
From Crystal Evan’s Book
The People Next Door and Other Stories
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