Archive | September, 2013

UPON HIS DEATH BED

21 Sep

INTRODUCTION TO: UPON HIS DEATH BED, 1st. novel in The Front House Jumbies Series

This novel begins in The Front House, the largest structure on the Simpson Estate of Pastureland Village, British Guiana. Found in the master bedroom of this overpowering mansion is John Simpson, patriarch of the Simpson family and controller of Simpson Industries’ vast sugarcane fortune. Stretched out on a large cast iron bed, John Simpson is dying and is constantly preoccupied with his past. This serves the dual purpose of coping with the prognosis of his imminent death, and at the same time, begging forgiveness from God.

In a helpless and yet, regretful manner, he summons his servant Sheela into the master bedroom. However, ignoring the old man’s call of distress, she uses his son’s absence as the perfect opportunity to seek vengeance against him. Stubbornly standing at the stove, fueled by mentholated spirits, the servant focused on the many infractions of injustice, which the dying man had perpetuated against her being as well as the existence of the other servants, including the labors who harvested the sugarcane fields.

As the old man prayed and secretly plotted revenge against the servant, his power of commanding the seen and unseen is assured, when his son enters into the master bedroom. Within the pages of Chapter 1, we come to know the dying man’s mind-set, through the interactions with his servant, his nurse, Sister Agnes and his son, Payton Simpson. This young man, his beloved son, is often found sitting in vigil at the dying man’s bedside. As he sits there, he listens attentively to his father’s recollection of selected memories from his past -those moments of flagrant sinning and times of overflowing joy.

Listening to the recollection of his own birth, Payton’s soul is comforted and uplifted, when he learns of his father’s pride, the first he held him in his arms. Slowly, the time they shared grew burdened with sadness, as the old man recalled the death of Polly Maynard. Still, this recollection was important to his father, in explaining the love he felt for Dalia Mendonza, the dead woman’s daughter and Payton’s mother. Withal, he continued to reject Dora Sago, the woman his son loved, because she was married, already had children and was the wife of a rum-drinking and wife-beating cane cutter, Adam Sago, and most distasteful in his consciousness, she was Black, showing the definite strains of Africa in her features. Accused of intolerance by his son, he promptly claimed it was his cunning and strategizing and not his money, which made Dalia, a racial mixture of Portuguese and Black, available to him and to his bed.

Payton does not believe him and questions his father’s investment of the money utilized in convincing Matilda, Dalia’s grandmother, to let her young fifteen year old granddaughter holiday with him in Cayenne; the very place where Payton was conceived. Reluctantly leaving his father’s presence, just as the nurse enters into the master bedroom, the readers finally close the novel, when Payton spreads a blanket over his father’s body, even though he remains unsure of his father’s awakening, as do the readers, who eagerly await the second novel, THE LOVE BETWEEN MARY AND DALIA.