BUTTERCUP, BUTTERCUP, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
I call it Buttercup River because of the pink and white buttercup cluster that used to cling tenaciously to the bank. The buttercups were not wayward; they were disciplined, groomed into a neat patch, at the back of our home, by granny Hester.
I watched Buttercup grow from a trickling stream to an angry entity, gobbling up in its rage Granny’s beloved flowers. Ever since Alma battered the island in 1972, Buttercup has changed. Still, I remember it’s gentle trickle and the joyous gurgle that used to lull me to sleep, whenever I lazed on the bank.
Buttercup, lives at the back of our wooden house in Warner’s Core, Petit Valley, a small agricultural village, on the city’s hemline. Here, farmers depended on her to quench their crops’ thirst and she yielded lovingly.
Gillian, my neighbour, and I used to sail paper boats on Buttercup’s back and race along the bank to catch them before the water loosened their folds. One leap, took us across the river, into the gardens. We used to steal the farmers’ pigeon peas, crack open the pods and eat until our mouths turned sour. Then we’d wander to the river’s edge, fasten our eyes on the blooming buttercups and make our way back home.
Over the years, Buttercup, had burrowed deep into the ground and her waistline had expanded beyond the bank. Then, we could no longer leap to the other side. The farmers placed wooden planks along her spine to cross into their gardens and we hid and used it when they were not looking.
Then Alma came and turned Buttercup into a raging black mass. She lashed at anyone who tried to escape the deluge, and swept away the wooden planks, isolating the farmers from their livelihood. Alma’s wrath lasted seven hours. She left as suddenly as she had arrived, and only after flattening the village and plunging all of Petit Valley into darkness and despair.
After that, Buttercup never regained serenity. It seems as if Alma’s wrath continued to bear down on the village from a mighty perch above. Buttercup has become the enemy. She has done irreparable damage by taking the lives of six villagers, sucking them into her belly and releasing their broken corpses when she pleased.
Gillian was one of her victims. She was found three days later, bloated and stinking, tangled in brambles where the Buttercup cluster once stood.