“Three little kids stole my heart,” is not something I thought I would ever hear myself say. But it is true. Over a month and a half ago, before the whole coronavirus pandemic brought the world to its knees, I went to Bigiston for work. We were doing some research for the N.V. EBS, Suriname its only electricity company. They promised electricity to sixteen villages (not so far outside of the city), but they could not deliver.
What else is new?
N.V. EBS only supplied electricity to five villages: Pokigron, Redi Doti, Pierre Kondre, Compagnie Kreek & Kwakoegron. Of course, the government did not deliver; I mean… it is the Surinamese government. Part of the money provided by the IADB probably went into their own pockets.
While we were in Bigiston, the virus had reached Suriname via French Guiana. To reach Bigiston, you first need to go to Albina. From Albina, you take a boat ride to the village. It takes about thirty minutes, depending on motor size and horsepower.
Before I get to the three little kids who stole my heart, let me tell you a little more about that trip.
We reached the village on a Friday afternoon & we left on a Monday. That is when the spread of the virus really started worrying our fellow countrymen. Why? For starters, our health care is SHIT! Even if you have top of the line insurance, you cannot get any treatment if there are no breathing machines and/or medicine.
It worried me to be there. I mean, they come and go between Suriname and French Guiana all the freaking day.
While reviewing the surveys, we saw that a lot of residents had fevers and coughed a lot. So my rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer were always close.
Bigiston is one of the original villages to receive electricity in 2016, but alas… the Surinamese government (sadly) never ceases to disappoint.
They use a generator to supply electricity to the houses from 18:00 until 00:00. My laptop ran out of juice on the third day. It was around 11:00 and there was nothing to do. I realized at that moment that I was in a beautiful place, but I had not set foot in that enormous river separating Suriname & French Guiana.
I went outside to enjoy the Marowijne river. But guess what I heard while walking to the river? The laughter of three little kids.
They came within sight, and I could not help but smile. Children, their laughter is so infectious and heartwarming. I only wanted to stay in the water for a few minutes, but when I saw those kids, I wanted nothing more but to play with them.
This is an accurate picture of the three tiny kids that day. Because they are so young, the twins are three and the older one is four; I felt it inappropriate to take their picture. They are too young, and they are not mine.
Their mother was on the riverbank washing clothes while they played in the water. I went in and the older one immediately started talking to me. It surprised me he cannot speak Dutch very well. It is our mother tongue, but when you go outside of Paramaribo, it seems to be an alien language to some. Most people speak Sranan Tongo.
The three little kids played in the water: the oldest with me, the twins amongst themselves.
I found out the names of the twins: Sue Ellen & Sjodric. Those twins are really something. Sue & Sjodric have their own language. The girl does not talk all that much; she does not interact with her older brother at all. But see her twin? Sjodric can make her laugh! So cute how they seem to have their own way of communicating. It makes me wonder about this whole ‘twin telepathy’ thing.
My body wash is what I used to lure Sue & Sjodric my way. They would not come close to me, they just sat a few feet away from me in the water, watching me suspiciously. When they saw the nice bubbles that my body wash made in the water, they only came to get some & then they moved away again.
I took it upon myself to keep an eye on the children. Their mother did not seem concerned about their safety. She was on the river bank doing laundry. Meanwhile, the oldest son drifted farther and farther into the river.
The oldest one came into my arms, hugged me, played with my braids, and spoke to me in Sranan Tongo.
Did I tell you that that four-year-old is FLUENT in Sranan Tongo? He surprised me. There is an elementary school in the village, but because of the water shortage, all but one teacher have left for Paramaribo. Do not ask me how they can keep a school running with just one teacher.
I know that some children go to school in French Guiana. Part of the Bigiston village is on the other side of the river, on French territory. This happened during the Suriname Guerilla War in 1986.
After maybe three and a half hours in the water, the twins FINALLY allowed me to hug them! Now, they wanted to be close to me, just like their older brother. But guess what? The older brother, who still had not told me his name, is super duper jealous of them.
“Go farther into the river, go to the middle section. And go now!”
That is what the older brother said to me when the twins wanted to hug me. Have I mentioned that he is very jealous of them? He knows that the water in the middle section is too high for them to stand, so they will not go out that far. I declined, and he got so angry at me.
“You are an evil person!” he said to me. I hugged him even tighter with my left arm and hugged the twins with my right. Can you imagine me trying to explain to the little guy that I have room and hugs for all three of them? Well, he was not having it and shoved sand into my face.
“Eat sand, evil auntie, eat sand!” he said, shoving little fists full of sand into my mouth.
You can imagine how uncomfortable it became for me to have so much sand shoved into my face.
The three little kids went off with their mother, but not after she and I spoke to one another for some time. God only knows why, but strangers always seem to tell me their problems. She told me she is twenty-seven years old with seven kids, the oldest one is ten or eleven. Her youngest one is a few months old. Not too long ago, she had a job in French Guiana, that is where she met someone, had a relationship & became pregnant with her seventh child.
She went back to Bigiston to give birth to her son. He is the most adorable baby I have ever seen. I felt my biological clock ticking for just a second.
They ended up leaving the river shortly after, and I stayed for another three hours. It was amazing! How I wish I could go back to that day. In this world, people are always fighting for more, more, and more. Always chasing that bag or coins, or wanting to become the next rapper his baby mama.
But for me, being out in nature, spend bringing smiles to three little kids laugh, now THAT is true wealth to me. It is amazing!
Oh yes, my people, I made the twins laugh! Yours Truly found out they think splashing water is super funny, so that is what I did for fifteen straight minutes. People, I swear I could crush open a can just like Popeye afterward, for my biceps hurt like hell!
The children left, and I spent hours in the river. It is so peaceful! What I did not expect was how the sun would burn me like crazy! See, it was not the intention to stay in the sun and in the water THAT long! Otherwise, I would have applied sunscreen. You know how most people think Black people do not need sunscreen because we are already brown? Yeah, that is a crock of shit.
In case you have never seen that fruit before, it is called awarra. You can read all about it here. That is my favorite!
I hope you enjoyed reading about those adorable kids as much as I loved writing about it.