Friday, 3 May 2013

The Last Year of Childhood - Extract 2

Novel set in 1917, Granville Village, Trinidad.

Latchmin is twelve years old, and dying of typhoid. There are crowds around her bed.

Extract 2

Everyone may not have had a chance to say their piece, but Bassandaye stood in front them and put her arms up and out to stop them. She turned to the bed where Latchmin lay still as a chicken with its neck broken. She called out, quiet and courageous, her hands clasped.

'Latchmin, baitee. You hearing me? Come! Come home.' Bassandaye reached out and touched her daughter's bony forehead, and ran the flat of her palm over the child's face and the bulge of her closed eyes.

'She not dead.' A voice spoke from the doorway. Pundit Lall had heard from the gossip in the village. He knew the family well and hurried to the house as fast as he could. Pushing them aside, he made his way to the bedside and stood next to Bassandaye, looking at the thin body wrapped in the white sheet. 'No,' he said slowly. 'She not dead, even though she looking like it.'

There was a sudden abatement of breath. Her pale skin twitched.

'It happens sometimes.' Someone spoke up before the crying became louder,

'No. She not dead,' the pundit repeated. There followed a chorus of sighs and intake of breath all at once.