Preview: Chapter 2
The praying mantis is my favourite animal, one that has fascinated me from childhood. It started with me pretending to build hospitals, with Lego, for insects living in my mum’s garden. My mum never bought as many fancy Barbie dolls, for her five daughters, as our neighbours’ mum did. Clara, a childhood friend and neighbour, had the most amazing bedroom – full of toys – and the whole Barbie and Ken collection, including their doll house. Visiting her meant happy hours and mango tree climbing. I challenged everyone in the neighborhood when their mango trees were full. They were conflicted – somewhere between annoyance and pity for my addiction to mangoes.
The praying mantis became my artificially intelligent Barbie doll. At least, it could move – maybe it couldn’t say, “Hi, my name is… Do you want to be my friend?” – but it was better than a stiff doll. The insect is built like a doll but with more elegance because of its foldable wings, on its back. Their investigative head turns almost a full 360 degrees. Their beauty provided them with the opportunity to become candidates for my Lego houses. The grasshoppers were not so lucky. Catching them was fun, but then I used to break their legs slightly to admit them into my hospital – it was not a sign of future serial killing – just the need to find out, for myself, which plants in the garden had medicinal properties. The haemorrhage of green blood needed to be stopped by my concoctions. “Remèdes créoles”, translated: creole medicines, make waves in French Guiana, supporting the watered-down pills and potions from doctors. My concoctions worked. The paste would harden on the healing – previously broken – legs, allowing my grasshopper patients to run away to safety, away from mum’s garden. The one garden that was protected from snakes, thanks to my brother’s gun. Did my brother ever have a gun? There was one for hunting, if my memory serves me right.
He would disappear for days with Louky, the most faithful and protective dog, inside the bushy part of a forest next to our newly built home. It is now replaced by students’ flats and a water system. We have experienced so much flooding, every rain season – it was about time for this water system to appear! I never complained when going to school though. Walking in our “high rainy boots” (wellies) was the closest you got to feeling like a cowboy in a two-weather system environment where it either rains or it’s ridiculously hot and sunny in the Caribbean. We could come to school late too, whenever the water had taken over the streets and “verandas”.
A praying mantis is a type of insect known for being a great hunter. “Praying” comes from the way these insects hold their front legs, below their head, as if they were in prayer. Praying mantises are highly predatory and feed on a variety of insects, including moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and flies. They lie in wait with their front legs raised. They intently watch and stalk their prey. They eat each other – even their own partners. Those are the reasons why the praying mantis is the most fitting animal to illustrate this second chapter. It’s a real shame because it really is my favourite animal which doesn’t deserve to be associated with the year I was mistaken for JESUS: 2008. The most tragic year for me and for the world. Was I really mistaken for Jesus? Or was it hard for “third-party” to go back to the office and assert their authority when they were just done insulting someone, through their TV, then the whole financial market started crashing?
Continue reading (…)
BY: Sylvaine FRANCIS