cover art by Hudle Jennings, second placed in the Wadadli Pen 2011 art challenge.
It wasn’t so long ago that I was condemning Eve with the rest of my Sunday school class: she was a sinner, she had wilfully
defied God and she deserved to be punished. However, it wasn’t so long ago either that I had tasted my first real bite of temptation.
In many ways it was all my granny’s fault, she was the instigator; she knew the type of child I was, curious to a fault, yet
she let it slip on afternoon on our way from the market that I was never to enter Mother Kumina’s yard.
“And why not?” I asked with hands on hips, eyes rolling back, and defiance etched into my face.
“If you want the curse of the Kumina child go right ahead,” Granny replied.
“Curse! Please, I don’t believe in no curse! It’s mango season and you’re telling me I can’t pick mango because of a curse?”
“Girl, nobody say you can’t pick mango. You can pick mango from every tree in the village but not from Mother Kumina tree.”
Why did she have to say that? Once I heard Granny’s words I realized that I had tasted the sweet, the sour, the bitter,
and the rotten fruit of every mango tree in the area except that of Mother Kumina’s tree. Instantly, my curiosity stood up and began an incessant screaming. She would not be satisfied; all food lost its flavour, all mangoes were sour, and every drop of water evaporated on my tongue. My curiosity and I would not rest without a taste of that forbidden fruit.
Thus, four hours after my granny’s warning I climbed over Mother Kumina’s fence and slithered up her mango tree like a
fugitive lizard. As I was sitting on a thick branch wondering which plump treasure to seize first I suddenly heard the disconcerting sound of grass being trampled. I looked towards the source of the sound and my sight was accosted by three large pit-bulls coming my way.
There was no time to think. Hastily, I grabbed a single mango and jumped out of the tree; skinning my right knee as I hit the
ground. Without looking back I made a run for the fence and slithered over it with even more speed than I had the first time.
I was basking in my triumph for all of two seconds when the first pit-bull burst through a hole in the fence.
“Oh Father!” I yelled as they chased me down Pineapple Avenue, up Orange Lane, and across Cocoplum Drive. They were relentless and they chased me all the way to Old Maggie’s pasture. Both of my Bata slippers burst during the chase; cassie pierced me in my unshod feet, I splashed myself with dirty water as I ran through pothole after pothole trying to escape, still the dogs ran on, and all the while I clutched my conquest firmly in my left hand.
After circling the village almost two times I was able to lose my pursuers and ran home as quickly as I could.
“Curse, schmursh!” I cackled as I looked at the orange-red mango in my hand. With a cursory wipe on my tank top, I skinned
it with my teeth and took a great bite out of the fruit. It was the sweetest mango that ever was; even though it griped my belly for an entire week, and every mango I have had since has tasted like ash, I’ll never regret taking that mango from Mother Kumina’s tree.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
The Curse of the Kumina was written by Shakeema Edwards. Born in 1993, she began reading at age three and quickly developed an aptitude for English and Literature. She started writing poems and short stories for friends and family at age eight. But it wasn’t until 2008 that she started entering literary competitions. That year, she won the Women of Antigua V-Day essay contest and the Best of Books/Joanne C. Hillhouse Next Chapter contest for the book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, winning both. The former Antigua Girls High School and current Antigua State College student has also fared well in the Antigua and Barbuda Independence Literary Arts Competition, earning a spot in a weekend writers retreat specifically for young writers who distinguished themselves in that competition. Inspired by ‘Classical’ novelists such as Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell, whose works have withstood all tests of time, Shakeema aspires to see her own name (or a creative pseudonym) etched into the spine of a novel that will change generations of people.
She’s off to a good start with her wins in the 13 to 17 age category in the 2010 Wadadli Pen contest and second place spot in both the 13 to 17 age category and the
overall competition in 2011.
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