COMMENTARY: Colourful Tales from Kiskadee Village – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Kiskadee

COMMENTARY- by Francis Quamina Farrier

Reality is that we are living in some extremely challenging and uncertain times in this year 2020. Some of us are resolute in ensuring that we stay on top of the COVID-19 pandemic situation which is testing us to the very core. While most of us in Guyana obey the COVID-19 protocols, sadly there are those who do not, resulting in the constant increases in cases and deaths.

Recently, I interviewed a few residents of Kiskadee Village on a few burning issues of the day. But first let me alert you that Kiskadee Village is a mythical community. However, the people who I have interviewed for this article, are real people. Kiskadee Village is the creation of celebrated Guyanese-born, Holland-based, authoress, Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra. By invitation of the Mayor, I visited and have this special report from Kiskadee Village.       

Though not a Utopia, the residents of Kiskadee Village live in a community in which there is Peace and Harmony, Love and Unity, resulting in genuine development in their multi-racial society. On entering Kiskadee Village you will see the sign, “KISKADEE VILLAGE. Everyone is welcome here. Enjoy your visit.” You would then see villagers milling around. Drivers are extremely courteous and obey the Traffic Laws. You would also see small business establishments such as restaurant, auto repairs, beauty parlour, butcher shop, barber shop, beer garden, general store and others flourishing. Although not as popular as it used to be in colonial British Guiana, “box hand” is still practiced in Kiskadee Village. People trust each other and there has never been an occasion when someone ran off with the money. Kiskadee Village though mythical, reflects a few real communities in Guyana.

You need to know that while Kiskadee village is a mythical place, the people who I have interviewed for this feature article are real Guyanese. The first person I interviewed commenced by saying, “My name is Clara Mittleholzer. I have a few family friends that are currently battling the coronavirus. Another set of my family friends have recovered with the help of God’s grace.” Clara Mittleholzer has not tested positive for the coronavirus herself. However, she has been affected by the disease beyond physical illness. “The virus has affected my relationship with one of my family members. Sometimes we get into arguments because he gets tired of being at home all the time, but in the end, he always takes the right decision.” Clara Mittelholzer does not recommend people running around seeking excitement in order to ease any boredom which they may experience at this unusual time. “I would just like to say to everyone to stay at home and stay safe.” And that is with good reason. “It is with a great sadness and a heavy heart, I have to say that two of my friends passed away because of the virus.”

Ester Moore spoke of how she is coping. “Most day ah does force meself fuh be positive an optimistic an tell meself dat dis lockdown gun end jus now. But den a see de numbers climbing and nuff mo people dying and ah start to panic.” However, her Faith pulls her up. “Ah get extra religious, always whispering a praya and suh.” Like so many others, life is like a rollercoaster. “I had bouts of depression. A couple of my friends and relatives got COVID-19. When my friend died in April, that was my first bout. But I am still hurting.” Her ups and downs are on-going. “It didn’t last too long because by nature I am a cheerful person.” She has since taken up Karaoke as therapy. Also an increase in reading books. All to help her worrying about her elderly grandmother. On the up side, “Ah have extra time now to hone my cake decorating skills.”

Another person who I interviewed was Alison Buchanan, who is taking the current world health situation in her stride. “I don’t feel pressured to get things done as quickly as I did before.” She emphasized.  “If the lockdown is still in place for Diwali, I will celebrate it at home. It can be done. It’s just different. Isn’t life about learning to do things differently?” she remarked rhetorically. Meanwhile, she has embraced technology with both arms, so to speak. “I’m all zoomed out…and have zoom meetings every day, as well as a couple of fortnightly meetings with friends.” Asked about ‘lockdown’ reading she stated, “I’m into steampunk, fantasy and space operas at the moment. Oh, and I’m supporting independent authors who otherwise can’t get published in print form.”

Tony Phillips recently moved into a new phase of his life. “This pandemic has not affected my wife Schavana and I very much because we both had already retired before the COVID-19 hit. We had already set ourselves up with our pensions. For us it is very much normal life in an unusual kind of way.” I have to admit that Tony Phillips surprised me with what he said next. “I have been able to finish the book about the Dome Mural and will be starting to source an editor soon in order to move to the publishing stage.” The Dome Mural referred to, is the one with the images of six Guyanese personalities painted in the dome of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (formally Barclays Bank) on Water Street, Georgetown, Guyana. If you think that Tony Phillips is doing terrific in his retirement years, his wife Schavana, also a retiree, “Continues to work at home on the completion of her PhD thesis.” he informed me.

Aunty Kay was so relaxed when I interviewed her! “Well, wha me go tell yuh?  Me a try. Wha yuh go duh?” That was fundamental. “Well, abi a keep church service pon zoom, becase yuh know, de virus!” She reads and also goes online and downloads material of interest to her. She keeps her spirit buoyant even though she has been receiving bad news from time to time. “Five a me family in de States bin get coronavirus. Thank Gawd everybaddy pull throo. Waan, waan time me a walk Regent Street fa buy lill ting wah me need.” Aunty Kay admitted to being depressed from time to time.  “But me read Bible, me pray, me lissn lil music an ting.” When asked about celebrating The Festival of Lights, her eyes lit up like two bright diyas. “Diwali? Why natt!” And at the end of 2020; “Christmas a de birth a Chraise we a keep up!”

In closing, I have to reiterate that those interviewed for this article are all real Guyanese, and even though Kiskadee Village is a mythical community, it is based on some real areas and communities within The Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra, First Prize winner of the GCA Godfrey Chin
Prize for Heritage Journalism and creator of Kiskadee Village. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

This Kiskadee was singing with all its might on the roof of the Kiskadee Village Office. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

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Comments

  • Blue Man  On October 16, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Where is Kiskadee Village? good memories.

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