On a little island in the Caribbean where nobody lived, I anchored my boat in a half circular bay. Nights, I stared at the millions of diamonds in the star sky. One night, I took my dinghy to the white sand beach, just to stretch my legs, when I ran into a Duppy.
Just for you to know, Duppies are spirits or demons on Caribbean islands. Some people call them also Jumbees, but for me, that means more all malevolent ghosts of the world. I rather limit myself to the Caribbean ones.
My Duppy that night was clearly out of haunting practice.
“Is there nobody for you to haunt?” I asked him politely.
“ Oooooh, oooh, I am the Ole Higue, the Three Footed Horse and the Rolling Calf, all at the same time, and you are supposed to be very scared of me.”
Ole Higue is an old wife, and you look like a mere child. She comes out at night and sucks all blood from sleeping babies. You better be careful, I could be Ole Higue in disguise. Ooooh! I am thirsty for fresh baby blood.” And then we laughed and laughed.
“And now look at yourself, do you have two hind legs and one front, like the Three Footed Horse of Jamaica? No, no, no! You have just two legs and two arms, just like me. The Three Footed Horse, you are trying to imitate, is a real Duppy, a creature whose breath is deadly poisonous, like that of a dragon.” I saw disappointment growing on my Duppy’s face, but could not stop myself from a further defacement.
“And a Rolling Calf with chain coiled around your body, you are not either. I know a wicked person when I see one, dead or alive, and you are not one of them. Only dead and evil characters mostly turn into Rolling Calves, you know.”
“ Times are bad,” muttered my Duppy, “I do not even manage to haunt the only visitor who has been on this island for years.”
“Mmmmm,“ I said, feeling sorry for my Duppy. ”Why don’t you file a complaint with the ”Union for Duppies, Jumbees, and Mendoes? Unions were founded to protect your livelihood, continued employment and meaningful existence. You, as a Duppy no matter how young you are, you have rights! And since you are at it, you also should demand better education and training, as a Duppy. And please, take some haunting lessons as well. You are far too clumsy and need shaping up.
By the way, do not ask me what a Mendo is. I do not know, but it happened to be part of the official name of the Union. Maybe at one time, there were also Mendoes in this area; a long time ago.”
I noticed that my words had a great impact on my young friend, the Duppy. He was digesting the advice, word by word. Maybe it was all a bit too much for him, after all, he had not seen a visitor for years.
I went back to my boat. My Duppy and I embraced wishing each other luck. But as a malevolent spirit, I did not hold high hopes for my Duppy’s future.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle