|Antadu Story: The Cash Cow|
Day after day Mr. Joe laboured on his hilly one-acre plot of land. He diligently planted and tended his rows of corn, peas, potatoes, cassava and bananas.
Try as he may he could not escape form his status of a subsistence farmer and part time fisherman. The years when he had a bumper harvest he was unable to make a killing, as inevitably, it seemed as every other farm also had good yields. The glut meant low prices for the farmers’ produce. In the years of famine, the kindhearted Joe thought nothing of sharing his measly crop with his less fortunate neighbours.
Janetta, a former pupil teacher, who never forgave herself after she was seduced and impregnated by Saga Boy, Joe, did not share her husband’s concern for his fellowman. She was one of those of persons who thought only of themselves and their immediate families. She did not sympathise with neighbour Jean when she could not get her child’s father to buy milk for the baby or with the Jacks whose father was killed by a vengeful bull. Joe’s wife loved high society and she always grumbled about her lowly position.
Joe was the typical introvert. He, outside of Christmas, Easter and Funerals, kept his own company. He read a lot, meditated and prayed regularly. He had more than nodding acquaintances with the Bible and he secretly subscribed to a certain Magazine of ancient wisdom as a result many village elders accused him of ‘reading bad books.’
One day Joe fell asleep in his tool shed while sheltering from a heavy downpour. The plaintive mooing of a cow awakened him. He looked outside to see a cow being carried downstream by the swollen river. The kind- hearted man ran down hill, jumped in the river without a thought for his safety and fought the current until he was able to bring the distraught animal to safety.
The adventure took a heavy toll on Joe’s health as he was stricken by pneumonia. For four months he was unable to tend his garden. Fortunately the farmer’s exploit was highlighted on radio and in the newspapers and local and foreign humane societies contributed to his medical bills. The owner of the cow, an English expatriate, glad to get back his imported Jersey cow, provided the family with funds to tide them over the period of Joe’s incapacity.
On Joe’s recovery the grateful estate owner employed him to manage his newly acquired farm. Unfortunately, the finer life took its toll on Janetta as within a year she was stung to death by a scorpion concealed in an imported high- heeled shoe.
When the island was given independence by Britain in the sixties Mr. Miller’s grandchildren gifted the farm to honest Joe descendants.
Whenever you see that weather beaten sign, "Old Joe’s Acres" pause and think of that lucky jersey cow which turned out to be more than a cash cow for the poor farmer.