The late August heat blankets my tiny house, oppressive and sticky. The air is dry and unrelenting. Old people would say the hurricane to the north “sucking all the moisture” from the air. A pall of stillness, leaden, is broken only by the drunken movement of eager blood-sucking Mosquitos, dipping and swaying from body to body.
Out on the make shift verandah I lie wrapped in a mesh hammock trying in vain to catch an errant night breeze. Beads of sweat cluster on my forehead before racing down the sides of my cheeks. The heat is a relentless master and we mere servants under its weight. Not even the ominous white owl that haunted the guava tree was out tonight.
I close my eyes and listen keenly to the faint neighbouring sounds… The bark of a fretted dog, shouts of drunken men gambling at a corner, the shrill cry of a hungry uncomfortable baby…
I would often lie here a stranger to the realm of dreams and think of what else might lie outside of the swelter. What sort of people? What types of lives? What sort of places? All I knew was this village within this tiny island surrounded by a vast ocean.
Daylight does not allow for the luxury of thoughts. Up at sunrise, work the land all day, no rest till sundown. Only then can I cast an eye on my growing brood born of brief, uneventful coupling with a woman I have mixed feelings for – anxious little faces with large questioning eyes.
I am trapped. Those eyes haunt me in the night… I feel as capable of escape as an agouti pinned by Old Man Govia’s hunting dogs. Eyes wide with terror, teeth bared and body shuddering is how the morning meets me each day.
The screams of the mosquitoes grow louder in my ear echoing far into the recesses of my brain. I feel the suffocation of life grip me and squeeze… Squeeze… Harder… Until I scramble to sit up in my hammock, panting heavily, wiping that annoying sweat from my face and gasping for reason.
Suddenly a shadow hovers over me and I am drawn to the sight a huge moth dancing his saga boy dance over my head. He dangles, pirouettes and twirls oblivious to the trappings of the earth below. I watch him as he flies off into the distance, lost amidst the towering bay leaf tree – leaving me behind… To wonder at the sights he will see while I am here with all these hungry eyes watching me.