Triggers -pleasure, pain, sweet, dark, trouble
The pink pouis around the Savannah are in bloom. The fallen petals run to the edge of the pitch walkway where they huddle in little mounds of colour. The road that circles the large grassland is slick with crushed flowers and the car tyres hiss as they speed by in the afternoon sun. On the western side of the road, iron benches sit in straight rows opposite the coconut vendors. The stray dogs lie panting under the trucks that are green with stacks of unripe coconuts. Behind the trucks and the trees, the sun casts long triangular shadows that run across the valley to the base of the hills that ring the city. The sun sliding in the west turns the shacks on the mountainside amber, and here and there, the flash of sun on a window is a blinding spot of white. The day turns cool and breezy but the heat of the pitch still radiates from the road. Along the side of the walkway people sit on the benches drinking the sweet water from coconuts with lopped heads, the straws sticking out from the holes at the top. The woman sits with her bag held tightly on her lap, a small briefcase close to her feet. The man, a Chinese Indian mix, stands next to her counting change in the palm of his hand. He takes real pleasure in counting coins and his mouth moves silently as he adds in his head.
‘You okay?’ the man looks at the woman over the top of his glasses.
‘I’m alright but see if you get a Coke.’
“You have Coke?’ the man says to the closest vendor.
‘No Coke but you could get some fresh, young water,’ the vendor pauses to shake his hair out of his eyes and re-adjust the oblong nut on his thigh. In a second he will lop the head of the coconut in a clean movement.
‘Okay, two nuts. Nice and cold.’
The nuts have flat bottoms that make them easy to hold. The vendor hands them to the man who is looking at the Lion of Judah painting on the side of the truck.
‘Thanks,’ the woman says. ‘Come and rest.’
‘What time is the appointment again?’
‘Five-thirty,’ she glances at her watch. ‘We have time, don’t worry.’
A young girl jogs by on the path in front of them, her breasts jumping with every step.
‘She should wear a proper bra,’ says the woman.
‘We could walk if you want? It might be nice.’
‘I don’t want to be sweaty when I get there.’
‘ Remember they seeing this kind of thing every day. Lots of people must walk’
She doesn’t answer.
‘You cut out the spoiled part of the pawpaw this morning?’ She remembers the ripe fruit on the table with the brown spot marring its orange skin. ‘I feel is the last batch we will get from the tree.’
“I don’t like to cut it before we ready to eat it. We could have it tonight. It wouldn’t spoil by then.’
‘Everything spoils in this heat. You should have cut it out.’
“You not frightened are you? They said it wouldn’t hurt. Remember? They said ‘no pain’.”
‘I don’t know why these young girls don’t wear proper bras if they are going to jog. Look at that one, they’ll be by her waist before she is forty.’
A group of girls run by, laughing and raising their knees high as they jog, their breasts jiggling with health.
‘They must be training for Carnival. You know how everything gone bikini and beads, they feel have to look good on the road. Remember when Jenny was that age, how she used to work up herself for this whole Carnival thing?’ Her voice is bright.
‘She was worried when I talked to her last night.’
‘You talked to her last night? When?’
‘She wanted to come today but I told her not to worry. It was when you were in the shower. I told her it was nothing big, just a small procedure.’
‘I don’t want any procedure. I really want a Coke. Can you ask the other man down there? He might have one.’
‘You should let the doctor decide what’s best. You’re still thirsty?’
‘Remember the woman that died on the ward when I had Jenny? You don’t remember? She’d had her baby and they wanted to do this small thing just to check. A small thing they said. They had to give the baby coconut water to stop it from dehydrating. It was all the baby would drink.’
‘This is different.’
‘How is it different? They say it’s a small thing, small procedure. No trouble. If it’s so small, it could stay right there. And what if it’s not a small thing? You thought about that yet?’ She raised her head and breathed hard through her nostrils.
‘Jenny and I think you should do what the doctor tells you to do.’
‘You saying that now. You know what it looks like after? You who can’t even cut a dark spot out a pawpaw? She pauses for a breath. ‘I still want a Coke.’
‘It’s full of food colouring. And a lot of sugar. You have to think of all that now’
‘Forget it. I’ll go myself.’
‘I’m going. That man must have one. He has a cooler. They’ll probably be cold.’
‘The bus will be here in ten minutes. You don’t mind drinking it on the bus?’
The woman rises to her feet and begins to walk towards the vendor with the cooler. The man catches her by the arm and pulls her gently.
‘I’m sorry. I’ll get it for you.’
The vendor pulls an icy can out of the water. It is still dripping with water when he returns.
She removes the straw and takes a long drink from the top of the can. ‘Thanks, That’s lovely,’
‘Are you feeling better?’ he asks.
‘I’m fine. I just wanted a Coke.’
“I don’t care what it looks like after. It’s not about that.’
‘Can we stop talking about it?’
‘Maybe Jenny should come with you next time,’
The woman does not say anything. She sits drinking her Coke and looking at the flowers blow onto the road.
‘It will probably be just a tiny scar.’
‘I really, really, really don’t want to talk about.’
He leans forward to see if he can see the bus coming up the long boulevard.
It’s there on the horizon, swaying unsteadily in the hazy, afternoon light, a small speck of bus. He picks up the briefcase at her feet.
‘I’ll do whatever the doctor says,’ she says. ‘But I don’t want any pawpaw tonight.’
‘You’re sure you’re okay?’
‘I’m perfect,’ she looking past him towards the bus. ‘I feel fine, let’s go.’
They stand at the same time and walk to the bus stop.