I slammed the backdoor and raced
up the stairs to my mother's room. I know she would not hear
me with the old sewing machine going. I dived into the rustic
trunk in which most of her prized possessions are stored. I gently
unwrapped a delicate ornament from folds of newspaper. I nearly
tripped over my pet cat, Fluffy who was hovering around me.
I gingerly held out the beautiful object that I found hidden
among the trinkets.
"How did you find this?" asked Mother, surprised.
"Let me have it. Do you know the significance of this box?"
"No, Mama, but its beautiful," I said, answering the
"This is a very special box," said Mother.
"Where did it come from? " I asked.
"It was made by a very special person for someone very special
over forty years ago. It is now our family heirloom," said
Mother tracing her hand over the carved patterns.
"Tell me about it," I begged.
"It was made by your grandfather when he was a young man
about to be married. He gave it to your grandmother as a peace
token after they had quarreled."
"Did Grandma and Grandpa quarreled too? " I asked.
"Everybody quarrels sometimes but what's important is to
forgive and forget," said Mother.
"Ray is always mean to me," I said.
"Try to be nice to him but find other friends too,"
"OK Mama. May I hold the box? " I asked.
"Yes you may, but be very careful," warned Mother.
"What is it made of Mother? " I asked as I examined
the beautiful carvings and colors around the box.
"It is made from the fruit of the calabash tree. Your grandfather
crafted this rare ornament," said mother proudly.
"Almost like a Jack-o-lantern that is carved from a pumpkin,"
I did a quick comparison. "Only this jewel box has no eyes
"And no nose," said Mother." These carvings and
bright colors tell a story about our family."
"Please Mother may I take it to school for our Multicultural
Day Celebrations? " I asked.
"You may, Amber but promise that you'll take good care of
it," said Mother.
"Oh, Mother, thank you! I will. I promise," I did a
double trot around my mother's sewing machine with Fluffy trailing
At school, the class was buzzing with excitement as everyone
took a quick peek at each other's item. "Yours is so pretty
with all the drawings.
"What is it Amber? " asked Nardy.
"You can only look. Don't touch. If it breaks my mother
will never forgive me.
Better if I break," I said seriously.
"Everyone kindly take your seats," Miss Doratree directed
as the lesson began. The children took turns and showed their
When it was my turn, I proudly displayed my special piece. "
These carvings show my family tree of my father's and grandfather's
families," I said with pride.
"Very unique and antique," observed the teacher, impressed
with her class contribution. " We must be very careful with
these precious pieces," she said.
Everything was going well until the teacher turned away.
Bram! Bramm! Brammm! Crrrashhhh!
The sound of a broken object brought everyone rushing to investigate
you who broke it.
"You broke my crayons yesterday and you threw my pencil
case in the fish tank. You are not my friend. I hate you!"
Miss Doratree tried to calm me but I yanked free of her hold
and ran I sat in fear not knowing what I will tell my mother
as my body rocked in sobs.
After awhile, I stopped crying and tried to stay cool. Like a
puzzle, I slid the broken pieces of the jewel box together. Then
my trembling fingers, traced some letters that were etched at
the bottom of the calabash jewel box.
I read the word FORGIVEN which was carved there by my grandfather
more than four decades ago. Over and over, I gently traced the
words that was etched there by my beloved Grandfather. I repeated
it again and again.
It seemed as if...
"Yes Grandfather," I whispered as I got up and went
over to Ray.
With Miss Doratree's help, my calabash jewel box was neatly mended.
The author is a Guyanese who
lives in Jamaica.