Koung Koung’s afternoon rides

One summer afternoon, as many as the wonderful afternoons I had in my childhood, soon as Koung Koung came back from work, I was asked to get ready after the meal, to go for our recreational ride to Marie Reine de la Paix and to the Champ de Mars Edward VII monument. After the dinner, Koung Koung and Popoh had the habit of having their afternoon rides to breathe fresh air and to relax in a green and pleasant environment. As the eldest grand son, I was privileged to accompany them and to have spent time with them. This close relationship and frequent interactions  with the grand parents also yielded to my fairly good command of the Hakka language which I have kept all of my life.

The ever faithful Bye Mamode was  aways there waiting in the Rover 5885 to drive us. As far as I can remember Bye Mamode has always been our driver. He used to tell me that he was  first employed by Koung Koung to drive the  public bus that Koung Koung owned on the run  from  Riviere du Rempart to Sebastopol. More than a driver he was also the errand man as well as the rent collector for the Grand Pa.

That afternoon,riding  in the car with them, I felt that Popoh was not in her normal mood. She was complaining about the new maid’s service. Already she had difficulty conversing with the maid as she herself was not able to speak creole, she kept on complaining  on the stupidity and clumsiness of the new recruit. Koung Koung had enough of Popoh’s mumbling. In a poised and gentle tone he said to Popoh: ‘after all this new maid will only work as a maid because she was not bright. What do you expect of a young girl coming from the country side without any education and who has been brought up in very humble condition? You will have to take the patience to train her and give her time to learn. If she was as bright and as intelligent as you, she might even be able to replace you.” The complaints and mumblings stopped short immediately.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the leather cushions we brought with us on the grass of the Marie Reine de La Paix garden terraces in silence and enjoyed watching the sunset over the harbour.


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