At a glance there was nothing strange about Mandingo,it was just another little village cut off from the rest of the country.Inside it’s bondaries there were no paved road or concrete structures,just a muddy track that would travel the length of the village.Inside the first little shack a little girl yelled "ouch" as her mummy tried in vain to remove chiga lavas from her feet by candle light.It was just 4pm ,but already the tiny village had a feel of midnight.All children were told to be in by 3pm.Life was simple; yet deceivingly treacherous on the islands in the 1920’s .There were worst things to worry about than sailors taking advantage of little village girls.Things unexplained that went bump in the night, that no village hunting party could hunt down and destroy.Against such perils, the only recourse was to keep your “Picnis” inside after 3pm less ;“The Duoens” would find them.Duoens were said to be children who died before they were blessed come back to steal unattended children from their parents.
Children were precious in those days,many were lost along with their mothers during childbirth.The ones that survived, were protected with a ferocity that one would attriute to a crazed lion looking over her cub.Yet inspite of that ,every year dozens of children went missing. Many a mothers and fathers stood on the boundary of Cayey forest, calling for children who would never return home.Cynthia was one of 14 children who lived in the village , like her peers she loved the freedom and simplicity that village life brought. She like the others new what was expected of them ,and there was only one rule “Doh leh 3’ o clock meet yuh outside”.
Cynthia however was like most children her age,curious. And always the very young don't always do what their told. So it was one evening ;she found herself with four other's down by the pond ,that lies at the edge of the village.It was dark not because the sun did'nt shine but because it could not pierce the thick canopy overhead.Each one had within their hands ,a small jar in which tiny fishes could be placed and taken home as pets.Uncle Shaboneau came out of the nearby bushes with a bundle of lucky bush in one arm and a sickle in the other." Ltittle picnis" he shouted " hurry up and go home".He approached Cynthia and wiped under her nose " Look how yuh dutty yuh face,yeh muddah go cut yuh tail". He said his piece, then vanished into the bushes again.The children played in the pond some more, before Cynthia's voice reached them from the other side of the pond." Alyuh hear de children dem ah callin"the other's turned to look at her, utterly perplexed by whom she was reffering to." who yuh ah talking too de Cynthia " Said Simon looking more and more concerned.Before he could say anything more she took off through the bamboos calling.The other's tore after her ,but it was as if she vanished into thin air.
That night the village was somber,another one gone. Igard Cynthia's father was beside himself ."Not meh child,not me child ah go find she" Miriam Cynthia's mother tried in vain to console him. " I will find dem Duoens"abruptly he got up and backed a small bag and he too disappeard in the forest.After 2 days Igard was about to give up their was no sign of his daughter,till a tall dark figure caught his attention up ahead.Without making a sound he followed the figure to a nearby hut in a clearing deep .It was a part of the woods not even he had ventured ,he waited out side until the figure emerged and was revealed under the moonlight. It was Shabounea, but what was he doing here ? For he lived in the village, he ventured inside the hut only to be stopped dead in his tracks by the sight.
Skulls dozens of skulls hanging on the walls,from the looks of them they were children.On the table at the far ends was the remains of his daugter,she had been skinned and her fat scraped out. His breathing grew rapid anger and grief pulsed in his veins,he grabbed the sickle from off the table,gripping it tight in his hands.Soon he heard footsteps on the grass outside and like a man with a mission he went through the doorway. A horrific scream shattered the night air.After 5 days Igard re-enterd the village his wife ran out to meet him seeing his empty hands she knew there was no hope of ever seeing her daughter again.Her eyes wet betrayed the anger in her voice whan she asked " Yuh find dem Dueons"? He looked at her and the now small gathering of people who came out to see." Yeah i find dem ,no more picnis will go missin no more.