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Sunday, 4 October 2009


The Brian Mac Farlane website is up and running, there are no prices up yet but the story line is there and the costume designs. Let take a peek at what’s there.

 The story of Resurrection the Mas. 
The Children of Port of Spain had gathered before her, sitting in a half circle, in the shadows just before dayclean.  

In the distance they could see the crooked light house standing in a sea of asphalt, its eyes closed.

They had lined the streets with flambeaux, all along Charlotte, Nelson, George and Duncan, all along the stretch from the cathedral to the sea.

The Children of Port of Spain honoured Madame Colombe by bowing their heads and, though bursting with anticipation, they waited for her to reveal the secrets of The Others. It would not do to hurry her with too many questions. She spoke only when necessary and her stories were like prophecies, great promises that at times seemed too big to be true. But the Children of Port of Spain knew Madame Colombe had never misled them.

"Where are we going?'' chirped the smallest of the Children who was just about wriggling with excitement.

Madame Colombe smiled, her face glistening like the black oil that had been pumped through the veins of the land, making some people strong, but others weak and forgetful so that they were distracted by anything shiny. Her bosom heaved as she laughed, and she shook her hair which fell about her and glistened as if spun from threads of white gold. "We are already here'' she replied.  "The streets of Port of Spain hold the answers you have been waiting for. The Others will soon be here. We must prepare for them.''

With that, she reached into the deep pocket of her skirts for the thick heavy book she kept wrapped up in copper cloth. She called it The Beginning because it contained stories of The Others and how they once danced and paraded through the streets and sang in a mixture of Creole and English before they went away.  "The promise is to be fulfilled,'' Madame Colombe said. "The old ways will live again.''

She shifted her weight on the oil drum she was sitting on. She blew on the tattered pages of the old book and they fluttered open on a special page. "One more time I will tell you the story of The Others and how it was in the beginning and how it shall be again.''

The Children of Port of Spain were spellbound, their eyes glistening. Madame Colombe was speaking in that melodious voice of hers that sounded like birds whistling.

"The past can never be scrubbed clean. The past is ours to remember and understand and once we walk through the fires of the past, we will be whole and strong and beautiful.

"The people of our land once suffered great indignities and cruelties. But they were  clever too. They found their own power 'under the mas'. So when the European masters dressed up in wigs and gowns and fancy costumes and played the masquerade, our people saw behind their masks. Our people had eyes that could see back to Africa; they could see from here to Europe and back to these selfsame shores.

"They disguised themselves too and put the business of their masters in the streets, so all their excesses and hypocrisy and buffoonery were exposed.''

Madame Colombe eyes flashed like the flambeaux and her shoulders shuddered and the tremor made the asphalt beneath her bare feet grow hot.

"We made jokes but all skin teeth is not laugh.'' Shadows flickered in the half-light, as if dancing to life. To the Children of Port of Spain, it was like watching clouds and trying to guess their shapes. That one looked like a woman in a short nightdress holding a baby doll in her arms. This one has a banjo, another a whip.

"Our people didn't need silk and velvet to tell their stories,'' Madame Colombe continued. "They used dried banana leaves, strips of old cloth. They painted themselves black and blue and powdered their faces as white as the massa and mistress. Some wore nothing but a loin cloth, their whole bodies smeared with soot and molasses and a pair of horns on their heads.

"During the Time of The Mas, our people had special powers when they could become anybody they wanted-from sailor to devil to clown. Some of our people grew tall, tall, tall overnight and could peep over the tops of houses. They wore satin pants and you knew they were coming before you saw them because of the music of the boom drum played by musicians who accompanied them.''

Madame Colombe paused. "See?'' she said, holding up one of the pages of the big book, with a picture of an elaborately dressed lady twirling a parasol, her skirts set wide at the hips, like the fine French ladies. But her smile was mocking behind the painted lips. Madam Colombe chuckled. "She pretty for so, oui. Bet you can't tell she is really a man in disguise. Her name is Lorraine.''

Madame Colombe continued with the story to help the Children remember. "These devils and sailors and clowns and all the others who knew the powers of the old ways began to fade away. These are the The Others-the old ones, the elders who first showed us the power in the mas. The Others are the beginners. Without them there would be no Big Sunday, no Fat Monday and Fat Tuesday. No rebirth and renewal.

"You see, people forgot The Others. They forgot how we began. They bathed in oil and ate the bread of forgetfulness. They sold their heritage for some pretty beads and colourful feathers. They forgot The Others. But the Others did not forget us. They are ready. They are here to teach us again. It is time to begin again.''

Madame Colombe rose and her skirts rustled like so many whispers. The Children of Port of Spain raised their flambeaux and encircled her.

The shadows began to dance, this time the Children of Port of Spain could make out faces and colours, as the early morning light grew brighter. Then Madame Colombe blew a light mist and the shadows took shape.

'This is where The Others have been waiting,'' said Madame Colombe. "They were with us all the time, wandering the streets of Port of Spain, which they called L'Oubliette, the Place of Forgetting. We just did not know they were here because we had been blinded by shiny beads and shiny coins. We had forgotten how to see from here to Africa and Europe and back to these selfsame shores.''

One by one, The Others began to appear as their true selves, cracking their whips, blowing their whistles, playing their banjos, beating their drums. The Children of Port of Spain sang praises to welcome them back to the land, back to a new beginning.

Madame Colombe sang too, her voice like a thousand angels. She raised her arms which turned into wings, her skirts into feathers. The Children of Port of Spain gasped and tried to clutch her hems, but it was like trying to grasp a cloud.

Madame Colombe, a great white dove, flew off into the early morning sky. But the Children of Port of Spain could still hear her voice, carried on a beam on sunlight.

"This is  Resurrection, The Mas.''

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