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A Bajan treat

The Sound of Tuk creates an authentic Bajan feeling whenever you hear it.

On the weekend of November 9, two separate events in New York – one a book reading at the Barbados Consulate and the other a theatre comedy show at the Wingate High school auditorium – more than satisfied the literary appetites of several Barbadians and their Caribbean well wishers.

The Friday and Sunday evening events, directed and produced by two well known poets, play-writers and actors were Bajan in every sense of the word. Indeed, the Glenville Lovell reading to promote his book of stories Going Home In Chains, and Merle Niles’ direction of Pampalam 2012 New York, were timely, humorous sound bites for a psychologically battered city.

Each event portrayed story telling at its best.

Lovell, who the Library Journal compares with writers of magic realism such as Alejo Carpentier, read Licks Like Peas – one of the six stories in a 171-page self-published soft cover book – to a full house. At times, he was animated and at other times his pauses were deliberate, precise and gentle.

Still, at other times, Lovell’s words challenged the audience to recall the time of “first Love” and to the experience what few forget or ever let go. Then, from time to time, Lovell would pause, sip a drop of water, let members of the audience to catch their breath, and then allow echoes of laughter to bounce from ear to ear and wall to wall.

Listen to the Sounds of Tuk very early in a developing romance between a man and a young girl:

“You en got nutten to tell me that I wanna hear,” Sonia saying to Pigeon. But she still slowing down just in case he decide to follow she.”

“…[G]oing to make you my wife, you know,” he saying.

She start to laugh and didn’t even bother to turn back to look at him.

Listen again as brown sugar now covers every inch of Pigeon’s tongue:

“Girl you look like a ripe breadfruit.”

But she didn’t like the way everything on she body was bouncing like she in a minibus on a rough road.

The sounds of the language of Pampalam were the same. Any difference came from the actors Yolanda Holder, Paul Puckerin, Lottie Weithers, Janice Perryman and Brett Linton, the outfits and hair styles and the treatment of their story lines.

And the lines didn’t have to be long or full of big words.

Whenever Lottie found herself in a tight spot it was her sales trade that saved her:

“DVD … dee vaa dee … deevaadee.”

And, when Lottie was good, and ready to wash a friend wid cuss, she claimed permission with: “De Lord will understand.”

Newcomer Brett was fresh. His appearance and role as a “bullah” was authentic and real. And his one-liners were outstanding. In a dialogue where truth was paramount, Brett busted the truth balloon with: “Yuh lie!” Similarly, Janice Perryman attacked the high cost of living and, perhaps ironically, went to work on the theme with another repeated one-liner:

“Tighten yuh belt!”

Pampalam’s two-and-a-half-hour show started on time, comprised 13 themes – many topical, yet serious, was well performed, and, as a sample, clearly demonstrates that theatre in Barbados is alive and well.

My point is simply this. Both of the events carried this unspoken message – there is richness to Bajan that is often lost when we write it. In the transition, some of the colour, much of its fragrance and all of the African sounds are sapped by the effort and it looses its context and meaning, because there is no sound.

So, Pampalam’s “Puckerin Perryman Politrics”, when spoken, sounds just like black pudding (the sound of the drum) and red Ju-c and bread ‘n two. And Lovell will argue that when Pigeon’s sweet talk did work wonders and he was about to get sometin’ fuh nuthin’ (so he thought) his words were the Sounds of Tuk too. Listen:

“She noticed his hands shaking and stopped him. With delicate-boned fingers she proceeded to do it herself, taking her bra off too, cupping her perky breast in her small hands…, lifting them for his gaze, offering them to him.

Three cheers for the Sounds of Tuk.

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