Carnival Baby

Carnival has come and gone; that glorious, uproarious, perilous fête that celebrates a sinner’s last chance to flirt with temptation before the onset of Lent is over for another year. The bwabwa have packed up their stilts. The lapo cabwit have stored away their goatskin drums. Shaggy sensay costumes are hung in plastic garment bags from the rafters. The King and Queen have returned to ordinary lives. Val-Val is dead and buried.

Most expats believe Mas Dominik is dangerous and stick close to home for the time. Masquerade is illegal in town without displaying a license to identify one’s self. There have been too many incidents of anonymous revenge in the past and sadly this year was no exception. But isn’t dancing with the devil, and then making your amends afterwards what Carnival is all about? What is the point in living in a culture where you don’t participate? And so I do.

There was a calypso launched in 2015 called Carnival Baby. The lyrics said that if you were born in October (like the singer and me) then you (having been conceived during the fête) are a Carnival Baby too! Okay. That explains a lot. Here’s the drill: Scantily-clad female revelers balancing plastic cups filled with??? run behind old Bedford trucks piled high with huge speakers pounding out soul-splitting bass for two solid days and nights while intoxicated males follow them around drooling. T-shirt and school bands are definitely more civilized while old-timers dressed in elaborate sparkling outfits bring up the rear. None of the above appeals to me.

This year I borrowed a friend’s old costume made from shredded animal feed bags and donned the scary helmet crowned with glittering cow horns. On Jouve morning I enjoyed myself spooking small children in my home village. (Boy, that thing was hot!) What I couldn’t understand was how all the kids knew it was me. “De white lady like to play mas,” they giggled pointing at my pale toes peeking out from beneath the hem.“Vwé,” I smiled. “Indeed she does.”