TT – Santo Lyons brought the rubber-tipped sticks against his chest with a flashing gesture of pride. He quickly struck his tenor pan with native skill and the musical notes sailed out of the makeshift tent-like oiled gems of delight. Ringing sounds, tingling the nerves, harmonious melody coursing through the air.
For months, a gaunt broody Lyons stood before his steelpan and with spontaneity, pounded out the musical notes, the sounds emitting a marvellous rhythm. He had to coordinate, knowing full well that the subtle tones must be kept low-keyed to support his accentuated high octaves, booming with staccato emphasis. A papered window opened at the side of the one-room rickety shack.
Wendy looked out a shadow in ink, a ghostly apparition as if out of sleep, with frazzled hair, looking at her husband entangled in his own despair. His banded forearms, throbbing chest and his quick hands creating a blur in the feeble light from the flickering flambeau casting a shadow.
“Santo, Julie and Jenny ent have no passage. You could spare a small change?” Wendy spoke at the window.
“Ah buy tampee with meh last money,” Lyons replied.
He stopped playing on his pan and dropped his hands into his pockets. After much time his hand surfaced with coins.
“This is all ah have. Take it —thirty-two cents.”
“Dat can’t even buy channa. Is passage money ah want. And is stale bake them chirren taking to school tomorrow.
“Well, leh them stay home, where I could be near them. I never went to school. I wash car and car parts and sell bottle in my day.
“Doh be chupid. Exams coming and them chirren doing good.
“Well, sell them two common fowl in the yard, what you want me to do?”
“You go sell your neighbour fowl to send yuh chirren to school?’ Wendy asked.