Older cousins skinned the sheep
careful not to pierce the skin
hung up outdoors for a couple months
stretched taut on a coconut trunk
our local village way of tanning;
and given to the most pregnant lady
as the foundation of the newborn’s bed.
The precious parts that made pachownie
liver, heart, kidneys, lungs and intestines
went upstairs to the kitchen first
introduced to the frying pan or karahee
already ready with heated coconut oil
then simmered with onion, garlic, geerah,
curry powder and garam masala
and slivers of wiri-wiri or bird pepper
until soft in the bhunjal style.
The mutton was chopped and mixed
and divided into eyeballed equal portions
among those who paid to buy the ram
and since no one had a refrigerator
each parcel fast tracked to curried sheep.
While that was happening downstairs,
upstairs, the ladies of the family
in addition to the pachownie, were busy
making roti, dhal-puri and paratha,
aloo ball, biganee and tamarind sauce,
bigan chokha, and fried ripe plantain
and barra, channa and pulourie
while the men opened a bottle of Russian Bear,
which as a symbolic nod to Cheddi
had displaced D’Aguair’s XM rum,
chasing it with Vimto or coconut water
cutting it with the just cooked pachownie;
and the children had I-cee cream soda
or Seabra’s green bottled lemonade
or pine drink or ginger beer or mauby
to go with the Christmas fruit cake
pearah, mahanbhoag and gulgula.
Merry Christmas, all y’all.
Tulsi Dyal Singh, MD.