Spotlight

Mango Belly -Part I

by Tammi Browne-Bannister

Torian Joyce loved mangoes. He grew up on a farm with julie, grafted and bellyful trees- but he loved kidneys the most.

When Torian went to school, he carried mangoes inside his knapsack locked away from longing eyes. His exercise books were kept inside his uniform shirt and were always soaked from sweat but he wasn’t bothered by it as much as his teacher was.

On mornings, Torian was found dragging his schoolbag along the roadside, refusing help from anyone who offered because he thought he would have to share.

Classmates begged Torian all the time but he folded his arms and said, “Money talks – beggars walk.”

“I’ll give you my lunch money for some mangoes,” said Nigel.

“How much do you get?” Torian unzipped his bag.

“I get fifty cents a day,” the boy’s voice trembled.

Torian zipped up his bag and sat down on top his desk. “You can’t buy anything with that.”

Nigel hurried away, not wanting to see or hear anyone laugh.

The wooden floors shook. Patrice, a heavyset girl, fastened her eyes on Torian’s knapsack as she walked over.

“What, do you want?” Torian clutched his bag to his chest.

“I’ll give you two long kisses for all the mangoes in your pouch.”

Torian’s blood crawled. He had never been kissed by a girl before and dreaded the thought. He wasn’t sure whether or not Patrice was worth as much as the hide of a kidney. Besides, she had a nasty temper.
“Let me give you a tip.” Torian gestured for her to come closer. “You’ll kiss these lips only if you’re Ri Ri or Michelle, The First Lady.”

Patrice’s mouth dropped before she thundered off to sulk.


***

Other boys and girls offered glow-in-the-dark pencils, explosive gumballs, talking comic books and unbreakable glass marbles, but Torian refused to trade.

“Alright, tell you what,” he said after a while, “give me your allowances for the rest of the month and I’ll give you a mango.”

“But that’s unfair,” his classmates argued.

“Beggars can’t be choosers.”

“Keep your bird-pick mangoes, then,” Nigel’s voice shook.

“You’re one to stutter, humbugging me with a couple of coppers.”

Nigel scurried away.

Patrice wobbled back over. “You’re nothing but a selfish mango hog. Do you really expect us to buy your scrape-up mangoes?”

“Scrape-up, bang-up, any how – if you want them so badly, you must pay - otherwise hold-your-road.”

“We hope you choke on them,” Patrice clenched her fists. “My granny says too much mangoes give sour stomach and colic. Just wait.”

“She was talking to your chunky self, not me.” Torian swung his legs backward and forward, hoping that she wouldn’t come any closer.

“My chunky self will flatten your bony frame, so watch it.”

“I will, watch you, watch me chew and swallow, that’s what.”

“Sour stomach and colic,” Patrice repeated, but saying that only made Torian more spiteful.

He ate each and every kidney, tantalizing his classmates with every suck, pick, slurp and lick. Their mouths watered and their eyes followed the golden juices that gushed down his hands.


***

Torian ran home after school, dumped his books on the floor, and changed into his yard clothes. He charged into the orchard to help Mrs. Joyce, his mother, pick mangoes. Mrs. Joyce kept mangoes in a washtub that stayed on the veranda most times. She shared them with neighbours. Even though those mangoes had bird picks, lizard bites and black soft spots, no one minded because they were humungous, juicy and free. Mr. Joyce, Torian’s father, always said, “Mangoes with bites on them are the sweetest ones.”

At dinnertime Torian pushed his food around on his plate, packing it down with his fork so it would look less than what he was given.

“You better eat if you know what’s good for you,” Mr. Joyce said.

“But I’m not hungry.”

“Are you feeling sick?” Mr. Joyce studied his son’s face.

“No, I’m just not hungry. May I be excused, please? I have plenty homework.”

“Yes, you may,” Mr. Joyce said as Torian sprinted up the stairs.

Torian tied some sheets together, knotting one end to his bed. He threw the other end down his window towards the veranda, where the bath was. He slid down, being careful not to make a sound.

“OUCHOU!” Torian squirmed from the searing pain when he realised he had struck his ankle on the rainspout.

“What’s that, a monkey?” Mrs. Joyce asked her husband.

“I don’t remember monkeys sounding like that.” Mr. Joyce held on to the arms of his chair. “Look over there.” He pointed to a wriggling shadow at the corner of the veranda.

Mr. and Mrs. Joyce stood, arms folded, watching their son swing down.

“Jeeze and peeze!” Torian cried out in surprise.

He jolted backwards, lost his grip on the sheet and smarted his funny bone on the edge of the railing.
“Boy! We thought you were upstairs doing homework,” Mr. Joyce roared.

A shiver ran down Torian’s spine. He bowed his head, watching the full tub of mangoes behind his parent’s back.

“If you’re not careful, you’ll wind up with an acid stomach and skin boils. And mango sores aren’t pretty.” Mrs. Joyce stared him down.

“Go to sleep, you greedy mango belly self.”

Torian stumbled off from the whack his father gave his buttocks.


***

“Wake up, lazy bones.”

Torian rolled over, rubbed his eyes and yawned.

“Good morning, mummy.”

“We’re leaving now for deliveries. Your oatmeal is on the table, cooling. Prepare for school. Feed the dog or he’ll bark all day and disturb the neighbours. Lock up good and check everything twice before you leave. Bolt the gate too. Don’t forget. Go up carefully, along the side of the road. Your father and I will see you later.”

“Yes mum,” Torian said.

He jumped out of bed the minute he heard the front door closed. He watched his parents until they drove out of the yard. And he grinned with excitement.

One breath later, Torian left the dog wagging his tail from side to side with its head inside his mother’s good bowl of oats.


To be continued....


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About the Author...

Tammi Browne-Bannister has been writing children’s stories for the past five years and has been awarded three times at the National Independence Festival of Cultural Arts in Barbados. She is a naturalised Barbadian and from the island of Antigua where mangoes are celebrated annually.

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About the Illustrator...

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné is a poet and artist from Trinidad. Her work has previously been published in Bim: Arts for the 21st Century, The Caribbean Writer, Anthurium, Small Axe Literary Salon, Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, Tongues of the Ocean, Canopic Jar, and St. Somewhere Journal.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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5 comments:

  1. Celeste St HillSeptember 22, 2011

    What a refreshing story from upcoming writer Tammi Browne-Bannister. I can almost taste the mangoes myself! I'm really looking forward to Part 2. Thanks Tammi.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the story so far. Can't wait for the rest. Hurry! Also love the artwork.

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  3. Loving the story so far sis can't wait to read what you come up with next ............. lol lol
    Bless Up Hun ;-)

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  4. I can relate to this story because growing up in Jamaica Kidney Mango one does not share. It is the most rare and most delicious mango ever. Good job Tammi. Can't wait to read more!!!!!!

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  5. very good job Tammi. really enjoyed your humorous story. looking forward to reading part 2.

    ReplyDelete

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