By Alex Wayne
It was about 10 am and I was on a minibus, weaving in and out of traffic, en route to Anna Catherina on the West Coast of Demerara.
I was particularly enraged by the reckless manner in which the driver was manoeuvering along the roadway and by the callous manner in which the bus conductor was speaking to several young females on the bus.
What infuriated me further was that these very girls having no respect for themselves were heckling and blushing under his very blunt and crudely vulgar insinuations.
On arrival at my destination, I got out of the bus squinting from the sharp rays of the sun. After adjusting to the glare and the scorching heat, I whipped out pen and notepad, ready to start unfurling the tale of this impressive village.
This village was strangely quiet in most areas. Save for the steady banter of a few youths by the roadside, everyone was tending to their own business in a somewhat quiet and controlled fashion.
I looked at a group of woman in a variety store and warmth seems to ooze from their smiles and jolly conversations. I was certainly going to like this village and its jovial inhabitants.
I, for some strange reason, felt at home in this village, this intriguing village, which is located about eight and one-half miles from Vreed-en-Hoop.
Anna Catherina, as it turned out, is a quiet place and, above all, inhabited by harmonious people. It is divided into two parts, the housing scheme, and the squatting area, referred to as ‘Sea View.’ This area is normally popular for its many entertainment initiatives.
It possesses sandy sections; perfect for open-air bar-b-ques, bush cooks and other outdoor ventures.
Everyone seemed to be at ease and in great contentment. Even the cows seemed to be trying their best with the almost sun-dried grass and shrubs by the roadside. A few sheep bleated loudly as they darted down the dusty dams to sip water from the trenches as the tropical sun beat down mercilessly.
I was just overwhelmed by the quiet and refreshing aura that seemed to surround this village, so there I was breathing deeply the fresh, crisp ‘country breeze’ as my eyes took in with wonder, the cluster of little homely cottages, impressive shops and even budding boutiques that surrounded me.
This village does not feature too many majestic buildings, and posh shops, like many others, but what caused me to gaze around in awe was its quiet existence, fuelled by the humility and charm of its residents, and its dazzling aura of simplicity.
Actually, there are quite a few small shops from which villagers obtain their groceries and household supplies. Some however prefer to travel to the somewhat distant Parika where they can get things cheaper.
Most people in the village, the majority of whom are of Indian descent, earn their living as sugar workers, farmers or fishermen. Others work in administrative entities outside the location.
History of the Village
I was very curious about how the village got its name and to tell me that was elderly villager, Selena Satnarine, who was a teacher in her younger days.“I can’t recall much about the history of this village, but if I can recall clearly Anna Catherina was named after the famed Anna Catherina, the daughter of a famous Dutch colonial estate owner who had bought a part of Guyana and named two areas after his daughters.
“This Dutch family had resided in Guyana during the days when it was a colony.”
Anna Catherina is a Dutch name (‘Anna’ is a fairly common female name in both the Latin-based and Germanic languages), but I have to admit that I can’t shed much light on what Catherina really signifies. I know for a fact, however, that the village not this developed as it is today.
In years gone by, this village was clusters of trees, scattered cottage houses, maybe a shop or two, but everyone was always kind and helpful to the other. Today things have changed. The mud firesides are rapidly being replaced by gas stoves and as such, residents get caught up in the modern times.
One thing for sure is that villagers here remain close to their roots and still share the traditional customs and beliefs of Mother India.
This village has a large squatting area and in 2010, the government through many efforts made things better for these squatters.
“In the 1980’s, things was really hard for us villagers but things improved a few years later. At least now we have light and potable water and a fairly comfortable life, so to speak.”
Interacting with villagers
I was very surprised that coconut vendor ‘Tejram’ was still around. He has grown much older that when I saw him a few years ago, but his tale of hard work and contentment was still very stirring.
“I still selling me water coconuts and snacks as always man. Me ain’t making much, but I try to manage at the end of the day. I am a very contented man and I have learnt to accept small blessings and make do with it.
“It’s really hard work to get up at early in the morning, using precious hours to prepare the snacks, and finish selling till late in the afternoon, but my mother always told me that hard work and sacrifices pay off in the long run.”
Selena Dhanpat explained that the village had always had an employment issue, which still remains today.
“This village always seems to have an employment issue and persons have to come up with ways of making an honest dollar. Although this is a calm and quiet village unemployment is an issue that would to be dealt with more rigorously by Government.
“Some students are out of school with excellent grades and can’t find suitable jobs. They have to settle for jobs beneath their credits.”
That aside, a large majority of the villagers were employed at the Uitvlugt Sugar Estate as cane cutters and labourers, so when it closed its door, one can only imagine what occurred.”
Some residents are employed in the schools outside the village, while some engage in farming.
A budding entertainment hub
This village may be small and quiet by day, by as evening falls, many locations turn up the heat with music, thus attracting residents in their numbers, all starving for recreational entertainment.
At first, there was one major nightspot, but some persons are opening dance hotspots or drinking locations in the village.
Villagers continue to gather in their numbers, especially on weekends, at the Caribbean Temptation Night Club and Restaurant for beers, alcohol and dancing. However, many have agreed that if this location does not change the party trends, they will eventually lose to outside ‘competition.
But the birthdays, customary weddings, and other events further allow other avenues of leisure time fun.
Housewife, Patricia Singh, was very stirring as she recalled a harrowing tale of a murder in the village a few years ago.
“I still tremble when I think of the triple murders that occur here in 2016. I wonder what kind of a human can do such an act.
“Businesswoman Jennifer Persaud and her two young sons were brutally murdered by a man persons said was a wife abuser. It was a shame that it took six years for the suspect to be arrested, and it’s a good thing he confessed as well.
“The man had gone to rob the shop that Persaud operated. However, his wife, who kept his secret for years, told the police to question him about the murders after she got tired of his constant abuse.
“In September 2012, Persaud, 41, the owner of a liquor store and bar at Anna Catherina and her sons Afridi Bacchus, 6, and Jadon Persaud who was 18 months old, were murdered and their bodies were found in the village.
“Their throats had been slit and they also suffered stab wounds. Acting on the tip provided, investigators arrested the alleged killer. Under interrogation, he confessed to committing the triple murder, sources close to the investigation said.
“He told the police he would normally be at Persaud’s shop. He said on the night of the murders, he went with the intention of robbing the liquor store. The man told investigators that he went upstairs after he did not collect a substantial amount of cash from the shop.
“He related that once upstairs, he collected a bag and Persaud woke up and saw him in the house. It was at this point, he told investigators, he stabbed the woman.
“The man said Persaud’s elder son woke up and saw his face and he decided to slit his throat. Bacchus screamed when his throat was slit and the baby woke up, and suffered the same fate as well. How gruesome, I just can imagine…”
This is a village where the contentment and simple existence of residents is mirrored in their quiet day-to-day operations. They work around their misgivings and shortcomings and use disappointments as stepping-stones to perfection.
Join us next Sunday, for the intriguing tale on the makings of Perth Village, Mahaicony.
Feb 28, 2020Guyana’s ‘Lady Jags’ go down to Mexico; focus now turn to round-of-16 Guyana’s ‘Lady Jaguars’ went down to group winners Mexico by a 0-3 margin last night at the Olimpico Felix Sanchez...
Feb 28, 2020
Feb 28, 2020
Feb 28, 2020
Feb 28, 2020
Feb 28, 2020
I refer readers to my column titled, “Claudette Singh, Lennox Shuman, GECOM and tragic Guyana” of Saturday, February... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]