“Mama why all these people go up the hill every day and come down again looking so disappointed?”
“They waiting for a miracle to happen my child.”
“Like when Jesus turn water into wine Mama?”
“Child yuh hit the nail right on the head.”
“Where the nail Mama? A didn’t hit any nail.”
“Child it’s just a way of talking. It means that the example of a miracle that yuh just give mi, is right.”
“Oh,” said the little girl although she still did not understand.
Still the constant trek up and down the hill continued. Curious to see what fascinated these people, the tot followed them one day to the top of the hill. She followed their gaze into the gully below and saw a large expanse of green vegetation waving to the slightest whim of the wind. There was nothing fantastic about this, so the little girl was confused. She could not understand why all these people stood gazing in wonder. She thought of Moses and the burning bush, but this was nothing like that, just an ordinary field of green vegetation.
Disappointed, she descended the hill, and quizzed her mother again.
“Child stop worry yuh head,” the mother said. “Yuh will never understand stuff like this.”
The little girl, realising that she would learn nothing from her mother, confronted her big brother.
“Bull what miracle is in the gully over the hill?” she asked him. “Why so many people going to look? All I see down there is green plants.”
Bull laughed. “It’s the good old calli that yuh si. It’s a holy ground of irie vegetation.”
“But why the people so anxious? Why they look so worried?”
“This bigger than yuh! Go one side and don’t climb that hill again.”
“But Bull a want to know what Mama mean bout miracle. A don’t see any miracle. And teacher teach mi bout miracle at school.”
“All right! all right!” Bull relented. He knew he would never get rid of her nagging.
“Before the next week Friday, something that seem impossible going to happen over gully,” he told her.
The little girl was just five years old, and she really wanted to see the miracle. She was fascinated by the Bible stories Miss A, her
teacher, told her about the miracles Jesus did. Now she would see one for
herself. Basic School
This was the real situation.
Mr. Biggs, a very rich man in the community, asked Miss May to allow him to cultivate the land over the gully. After all, the land was idle with no vegetation on it. Some money was paid to Miss May and Mr. Biggs sent labourers to cultivate the large area of land in the gully. The seeds were planted and they quickly matured into a vast vegetation of green marijuana. Mr. Biggs was pleased. In another month he would reap the crop and gain thousands of dollars from the illegal plants.
Everything went well until Miss May got a letter from the Bauxite Company. Several people sold land to the Bauxite Company who would eventually mine the land for bauxite. However, the bauxite company usually leased the land to the very people they purchased it from, until they were ready to mine the land.
The letter indicated that a team would be sent from the Bauxite Company to do a survey on land leased in the area. The team would do their survey on Friday, 8th March. That was exactly one week away.
Miss May was beside herself with anxiety. She quickly took the letter to Mr. Biggs, urging him to destroy the vegetation at once, or several people would be in deep trouble.
Mr. Biggs scratched his head. He was a man who felt that money could buy him anything. “I will take care of it,” he said. “Don’t worry your head about it.”
“Yuh have to go root it up and burn it,” Miss May said. “I’m so sorry.”
“Who said anything about rooting up or burning up?” Mr. Biggs asked. “I’ll do no such thing. I’m going to see a Science Man who will change everything into corn.”
The following day Mr. Biggs took a long journey and returned with the news that the change would take place before Friday. The news became the biggest story in the village and people from far and near marched up the hill each day to see the miracle. Each time they descended with disappointed countenances.
“Anything happen yet?”
“No sah. Not even one stalk a corn mi nuh si yet.”
Monday and Tuesday went by with no change.
Thursday found anxiety climaxing to an unbearable level. The dilemma stood out like a dark demonic devil.
People were on the hill top from the break of dawn, waiting for the miracle.
Morning became , but the vegetation remained the same in the gully.
Mr. Biggs’ labourers were anxiously scanning the cultivation, pacing and peering to see even the slightest start of the change.
Should they root up and burn or should they wait on the magic of the Science man?
With the vigil on top of the hill, and the surveyors searching the green farm for signs of the miracle, the count down began.
not even the slightest inkling of change
Darkness was rapidly descending and tempers started flaring.
“The boss is a damn fool! Only God can change weed into corn.”
“An that only happen in the Bible.”
“Shut up and search before it get darker!”
“Yuh think mi a rat bat? It dark already an mi can’t si a thing!”
“Time to start root up an burn.”
“What the hurry man? It can still change!”
Not being able to see anything in the gully, the disappointed watchers abandoned the vigil and went home.
Reluctantly the men pulled up the plants and destroyed them. They spent the whole of Thursday night rooting up and burning.
The dawn of the fateful Friday, March 8, broke to find a barren field in the previously green gully.
Still anxious to know the outcome of the promised miracle, the people trekked up the hill on Friday.
They saw the barren field and shook their heads. They knew that the miracle did not happen. They knew of the extravagant waste that took place. They knew that the obeah man got a great deal of money for nothing.
Only one little girl was elated. Ever since she heard about the miracle, she wanted to see for herself. Every day she managed to sneak to the top of the hill and look. Each day she went back disappointed, but hopeful. Today she followed the people and took one look. She bolted down the hill at burden speed.
“Mama!” she shouted, all out of breath.
The mother ran to see what was wrong with the child.
“Mama!” she panted, all out of breath, “ I saw the miracle. Jesus made all the green plants in the gully disappear last night!”
Patricia Whittle is Jamaican. She has published two books, namely Mi Waan Fi Publish A Book: An Anthology of Jamaican Dialect Poems and Johnny, Mass Tom and the Fatal Error: Three Short Plays for the Jamaican Audience. She is a librarian and a teacher of English Literature.