Childehoode

 

Chapter 2

 

Childhoode in Port Royal

 

In the summer of Fionas 7th year Carmine fled with her two children – the fair and the dark – along with a groupe of other slaves. But the colonie jungles are wilder and more dangerous than any other place in the civilized worlde. A poisonous snake quickly killed one of their groupe, a native desease soon ended the lives of two others. Within two month only half their numbers was still alive, including the two children. They decided – as most runaway slaves eventually do – that they woulde have to return to the Civilisation again. And for them that meant only one place: Port Royal.

 

Port Royal was and still is a city full of different colors, smells, languages and dangers – I dare call it city, for town doesn’t seem to cover what Port Royal is. This is where pirates spend their loot on drink and women. This is where smugglers organize their business and where they sell their goodes. Everything is for sale in Port Royal – luxeries, weapons, drink and food, and people. But the slaves here are not one color only, and the blacks are not necessarily those who are for sale. Some of them are selling… Port Royal has no morale, no government, no honor that cannot be bought for money. Gold is their morale and their government and their honor. The King’s Law has no authority here. He has soldiers here for sure, but they keep to themselves or follow the city’s unwritten laws or they perish. You can find whores here in the priceleague from two pennies (in ‘Two Penny-lane’) to £10 (in the prestigious brothel ‘The Almohadhish Nights’). You can win your fortune here and you can loose your life within hours of arrival. And all these wordes to describe to you the place where Fiona grew up…

 

All runaway slaves eventually end up in ShantyTown, where there are no streets but the spaces between shacks. This was also the place where the sick and dying Carmine went to with her dark and light child, her boy and her girl. Fiona told it to me like this: ‘We staggered through ShantyTown, Matebe on one side of Mom and me on the other holding her up. People shied away from us, frightened of whatever disease we were carrying with us. They could not know that the only disease we carried was a mother’s love for her children – Mother had done without so that Matebe and I would not starve or thirst. She had spent herself trying to save us. We were determined to find a place for her to die, a place where kind people would care for her and say the deathrites as they should be said. We knew the rites off course – we had heard them so many times on the plantation, but they were like nursery rhymes to us; we understood maybe half of it, the rest were mispronounced and mysteryspeak. You know like: ‘Hollow is our father, priced be his name’ instead of ‘Holy is our father, praised be his name’. We struggled through the crooked and twisting ‘streets’ of ShantyTown in the dim light that governs there. And suddenly we entered into this place of light, this Paradise that Daybreak Square is – the only place in ShantyTown where the sunlight actually finds its way to the ground. We stopped short. In front of us an enormous figure towered up – a colorfully dressed mulatto woman with a bright red turban around her head. Her hands were firmly planted in her sides and bright metal braceletts jingled and glittered from her wrists. She looked at me once, grabbed my left arm and stared at my birthmark (the starshaped one), and with a snap of her fingers she had some men taking over Carmine. They carried her into the inn on Morning Light Square, and with a hand on each of our shoulders the tall woman led me and Matebe in. That was how I met Mamasita – my grandmother – for the first time’.

 

Yes, Mamasita… The beautiful runaway slave that caught William Blackwell’s eyes back in 1585 (se part 1 – pages x-xx). Lupe she was called back then, but at the time when Fiona stumbled into her life everyone called her Mamasita, even William himself. She was now three times the size she had been in her youthe, but still beautiful and with the determination that had characterized her then. The inn was now Mamasitas own inn, though the sign hangning over the door was still the same; a beermug carved into the wood. Only the fewest people in ShantyTown could (and can) read or write, and a meaningful sign was the only way of telling people that beere was to be had here. I can recommend Mamasitas beere. No where in the worlde does it – in my personal opinion – taste quite as goode as here. Though I will prefer not to know how it is made and with what. There has allways been some or other ‘secret ingrediente’ in everything you can eat and drink at Mamasitas – and I prefer it to remain secret, I must admit. There is one thing, though, served at Mamasitas that I will take any day over the finest brandies and cognacs. And that is Mamasitas homebrewed coconutspirits. It will clear out sinuses and ears, clear up your mind for a few moments before it dulls it into a pleasant happy state. Mamasita can drink those down all day without any sign of being affected by them, but she does off course have years and years of practice.

 

The inn itself is but one storey high, though higher than the surrounding buildings (if you can call them that). There is a large tavern room with a fireplace, a smaller room for more private parties, and an eating room connected to the kitchen. Then there are Mamasitas private room, the store room and the privies. It is quite a large and fancy place, the location taken into consideration. A lot of people may calle it a dump, but I would object to that. Mamasitas Inn is a magnificant place. And this is where Carmine died five days after arriving and within minutes of telling Mamasita, who Fiona’s birthmother was – Mamasita had already figured out who her father had to be. And this is where Matebe and Fiona grew up.