Play On Deon

by Jan Bester

Deon by Jan Bester
Little Deon didn't have much of a chance to be heard, being soft spoken and the youngest child in the family. His four brothers and two sisters always seemed to be talking at the same time and Deon's soft voice could never be heard over his sibling’s louder voices. Seemed there was never a quiet moment from dawn to sunset, with his brothers and sisters talking about what they had done, or what they were planning to do and how they liked this, or didn't like that.

Deon sometimes feels alone, even in such a large family. He always enjoys walking and listening to the quiet sounds of nature. The birds chirping and the palm fronds blowing in the breeze are a welcome sound.

Today Deon decides to walk higher up in the hills above his home and village than he'd ever gone before. As he walks he hears the greeting chirps of the birds in the trees all around him, but there is something different he's hearing. A ping, ting-ting, ping-ping, ting sound. It's a beautiful rhythmic sound. As he walks further up the hill the sound grows louder, until he finds where these sounds are coming from.

Deon sees a tall man with white hair standing behind a round metal object, tapping on the top with two sticks which have fabric wound on the ends. What a beautiful sound. Slowly, Deon walks closer to see what this man is doing.

"Good morning young man. What brings you up this way today?" Deon answers, "your music brought me". Deon introduces himself and the man says he is called Pan Man and explains how he got this name. "I am the only person on the island who makes steel pans for the steel drum players, who perform during festivals and other special occasions, so people gave me the nickname, Pan Man".

"Is it hard to learn to play the steel pans", asks Deon? Pan Man tells him, if he practices every day he could learn how to play the pans.

"Would you teach me?" Pan Man nods his head and agrees, but Deon must come to learn the music and practice everyday. Deon is so happy and wants to have his first lesson today. Again Pan Man agrees and within no time Deon is tapping out a simple little tune on the steel pan. Both Deon and Pan Man are pleased with Deon's new found talent and how fast he is learning.

At home, everyone is busy and talking, so Deon doesn't mention meeting Pan Man, or his first lesson learning to play the steel drums. Every day after he finishes his chores, he hurries up the hill to Pan Man's for another lesson and more practicing.

To Pan Man's delight, Deon is learning many different tunes and is becoming very good at playing the pans. Deon practices and practices and each day he learns more and more.

It's only a few days until the largest and best festival of the year, the Island Christmas Festival. Everyone on the island will be there to celebrate the holiday and spend time with friends, along with watching the island's most talented performers on stage. Deon's brothers and sisters have been talking about the festival for weeks and they are excited and look forward to seeing the performances, seeing friends and eating the tasty treats at the vendor's stands.

Deon arrives at Pan Man's, but Pan Man is nowhere to be found. Where is Pan Man? "Good morning" calls Pan Man from the door of his house. He is holding something bright red and shiny gold in his arms. "Here Deon, this is for you. Try it on" Deon slips on the shiny shirt and pants and turns around to see Pan Man with a beautiful new steel drum. "I made this steel pan especially for you to play in the festival show tomorrow." Deon gasps for breath. "Me, play the steel pans in the festival? I'm so happy and excited".

The big day arrives, but Deon hasn't told anyone his secret, so no one even knows about the pan lessons, but he decides to keep this secret to himself for awhile longer. Seeing Deon on stage with the other pan players will be a big surprise for his family and everyone in the large crowd.

We have been waiting all day and the family is eager to get to the festival as they walk towards town. Of course, everyone is talking at the same time, laughing and dancing as they walk. Deon is dancing and marching along with the others, having a great time together. Deon is thinking about his big surprise and smiles to himself. As they round the bend in the road, they see the crowds of people gathering close to the stage to see the singers and the steel pan players, who will be performing soon. The stage is decorated with colorful posters and streamers and different colored lights that sparkle like stars in the evening sky.

Pan Man is setting up the steel drums. Deon sees his new drum in the center of the stage, so Deon quietly slips away while his family and the others watch the last of the calypso singers finishing their show. Behind the stage Deon changes into his new red and gold costume.

Pan Man takes the microphone and introduces the steel drum players, one by one. "And now, for our newest and youngest pan player, let me introduce a very talented young man, Play-On Deon." Everyone applauds and cheers. Deon's parents, brothers and sisters, can't believe their eyes. Their little Deon is on stage with the pan players. Deon plays along with the others and even plays a solo that amazes the crowd with his musical talent. The crowd clap their hands and yell, "yea, Play-On Deon, Play-On Deon !"

Deon thanks Pan Man for everything after the show. On the walk back home Deon's brothers and sisters keep asking him questions and more questions and everyone is talking about Deon, saying what a great performer he is. Deon feels so proud and it is nice having people wanting to talk to him and actually listen to what he's saying, especially his brothers and sisters.

Even after the holiday festival everyone still refers to Deon as Play-On Deon and Deon always smiles. Deon can't wait to learn new steel drum tunes and looks forward to the next festival, but this Christmas will always be a very, very special holiday for Play-On Deon.


About the Author...

Jan Bester enjoys writing children's stories and also painting scenes of the Caribbean, especially Montserrat. Her writing and illustrations have appeared in previous issues of Anansesem.

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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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