After the disastrous fishing boat accident the idyllic Farmland was left idle for months. The proprietor, Ms. Josephine, decided that the sadness had lingered long enough and she began to take the helm to bring back this farm to its productive state. The Reverend McMillan had recruited the men who used to stand idle at the corner. He knew it would take a lot to show them the ropes and build their confidence but this was going to be a big part of his ministry in Ridge Hill, he could not afford to have them slip back to their old pattern of holding up the corner in the square.
"Leila, Leila" Grannie Madelyn's shrieking voice could be heard throughout the valley. Although she did not work outside the home, she said it was important for her grandchild to learn to cook; so two times per week , Leila started her lessons under her grannie's watchful eyes. She made sure she used the right pinch of seasonings, sliced the potato the right way and used the correct measure of oil, because greasy food was not tolerated in Ms. Madelyn's kitchen. Leila was caught by surprise, her grannie must have returned home early because she had told her she was going to visit a few of her friends and Leila had watched her wrapped her coconut tart and pound cake, tying the goods in two bags as she said, this would guarantee freshness. Ms. Madelyn had crowned herself the baker of the village and no one would be able to wrangle that from her. It did not matter that there were women who knew their way around the kitchen far better than her, no one was brave enough to break this news to her.
Leila was still wearing her school uniform and she had not started her homework as yet. She had decided to while the time away with her best friend Ramila, the granddaughter of Ms. Josephine and the late Mr. Bancroft James, who with the the other men, died in that awful and mysterious fishing trip accident. Leila shouted back " I am coming grannie" as she quickly said goodbye to her friend. They had gone down by the river which runs in the back of Farmland. Leila knows that her grandmother did not want her to fall in the same trap as her mother Darlene who had her at a young age. Grannie had began watching her like a hawk because she thought Leila was blossoming too fast and should not be playing too much with Ms. Nita's good for nothing boys.
Leila and Ramila were inseparable and when they were not in school they would go by the riverside. Legend has it that someone from the village had been carried away by the swift current, way up the river. The people of Ridge Hill have sworn that they hear his cries for help ever so often. Most of the villagers stay away out of fear and so this became a private getaway for the best friends. They usually choose the shallow area and sit on the big stones that jutted out of the river. One of their favorite pastime was to throw pebbles that made circles in the water. Two innocent schoolgirls who talked and talked forever and when they were tired of running their mouths, they would pick the plums from the trees around the riverbanks, that were laden with the sweetest plums this side of the valley. They would eat a bellyful and then drink from the refreshing water that sprung from between the rocks. Today these two adventurous young girls ventured too far up the river, the mangrove trees and shrub grew so thick, that it would cast a dark shadow that send a shiver, raising bumps on their arms.
They turned back to their favorite stone, where the sunshine shone so brilliantly, through the tall and slender bamboo trees. They had fun looking at their reflections in the river. Nature had built this little hideout to perfection. They jumped from stone to stone on the step-like formation in the shallow part of the river. Leila noticed that Ramila was a bit somber and badgered her friend until she told her what was making her so gloomy. Apparently, Linette the school yard bully had pulled Ramila's hair and blurted out"I know why that fishing boat accident happen, there is a curse in your family and other things will happen, you watch and see." They both cried in remembrance of the men and they cried because what if mean-spirited Linette was telling the truth? They lost track of time and that is when Leila heard Grannie Madelyn's call, the voice that told her she would not escape her wrath. She should have been home starting supper.
The neighbors could hear Ms. Madelyn's bellowing voice. They would be peeping over fences, through the zinc hole and makeshift bamboo walls that separated some of the houses. It was as if it was a call for theater time. As Leila ran down the hill, she saw her grannie, hands akimbo waiting for her in the middle of the yard. Leila blurted out loudly, "what is the curse?" "Where did you hear that from?" as she shoved her inside out of the ears of all the busybodies. Her plan had worked, for whatever Ms. Madelyn had in store for her, it would be done in privacy. Ms. Madelyn did not answer Leila's question instead she wanted to set her plans in motion, baking up a storm for the upcoming revival. She had nominated herself the head cook and planner for this upcoming well needed week long thanksgiving to awaken the good spirits in Ridge Hill. Leila will have to wait for the answer to her burning question. After all this is Ridge Hill, the village of beauty and secrets galore. A revival will do the village good.