In this world of hunger and hate, poverty and pain, there stands a village, a quaint hamlet in the countryside of British Guiana, known as Pastureland Village. In this village, men and women go to work in the Simpson cane fields, while others head off to tend the rice standing tall in soggy soil. Trudging off under the rising sun, they’d return to their cottages under the fading sparks of sunlight.
Routine and regulations, customs and ceremonies would have continued save for the future of the offspring born to the village people – the colonizer and the colonized. Included in this plan of securing a stable economic future for their children, are those born to the soil, and John Simpson, a dying patriarch. Born of the wealthiest family for miles and miles around, his every breath is spent ensuring his son Payton inherited control of the Simpson family fortune.
Included in the ambition of cultivating a financially guaranteed future for their children was also Ramlall Bacchus, whose sole goal was to own a shop in Town, thus becoming the master of his family’s future. Ramlall Bacchus, hated by John Simpson even as he deceived his mattie cane cutters, for a few extra coppers in his wage envelope with his approval. Ram remained unaware of the true reason for the dying man’s animosity, as such, he did not know of his wife Sheela’s sexual affair with Chance Manning.
Chance Manning, widely known as John Simpson’s nephew, he was purported to be the dying man’s incestuous offspring, among family members and to many older villagers. Chance, in turn, hated him with even more spite than he had the energy to imagine, having confronted him about the rumor, and was forcefully rejected on both occasions. Instead, he passed the family business and sole control unto his beloved Payton, this rejected the claim by his sister Margaret and her husband Cecil that Chance was the rightful heir to the Simpson fortune.
Compounding their resentment, his daughter Katherine joined the Manning family in collusion against John Simpson as they plotted his premature death, as well as the murder of his son Payton. His son Payton was vehemently resented by the Simpson family, due to his mother’s African heritage, the blood coursing through his own veins. Hence, he was scheduled to die by the hands of his sister Katherine, the moment the opportunity presented itself. However, with his father still alive, Payton was afforded the protection necessary to survive their plan of murder.
In the movement towards the future, the rich, seeking to maintain their enormous fortune, collided with the poor, who struggled to gain access to the same economic freedom experience by the Simpsons. Heading towards the same course of a better life for her three daughters, we find the washerwoman of Simpson Industries, Dora Sago and her husband Adam. Contrary to his wife’s hopes for their future, Adam, her husband was often observed drinking copious amounts of brown rum at Red Sam Rum Shop.
Unaware of Payton’s attraction to his wife, Adam couldn’t know Payton would utilize his drunkenness as an entrance into Dora’s bed. In the rum shop, he spoke openly of his hate for the man who was about to inherit the very ground he tilled for a living. This resistance to change and to the power Payton would inherit, accompanied him back to the cottage. Feeling worthless, he’d begun beating Dora when he could no longer utilize Dora’s wages to support his alcoholic binges. During these times, he felt a surge of the power he lacked beyond his cottage door.
Dora Sago, a woman who had unknowingly, drawn the romantic attention of Payton Simpson, is now in a position to improve her lot in life through his wealth. Admitting his emotional attraction to the cane cutter’s wife, Payton realized he was wrong in confiding his feeling to the old man, who rejected her as “a barefoot native.” This was only one of many demeaning terms he supposed, if a relationship between his son and Dora Sago was ever to take place. Adamantly, he cautioned that she’d only bring him down socially due to her lack of education and matching financial wealth.
Hi everyone, as author of Upon His Death Bed, I’ve heard many questions from my children about my homeland and the way I grew up. The older they became, the more questions they had and the more persistent their inquiries became. I then decided this novel had to be written to pass my heritage unto them. Born in British Guiana, now Guyana, which means Land of Many Waters, I enjoyed a beautiful carefree life of various after-school activities, along with my many siblings and cousins. Summer was always spent in the country side, either camping with the Brownies or Girl Guides, or spending time at a relative’s house. It was during these visits to the countryside that my love of farms, sugarcane fields and the essence of countryside existence took place.