The texts below are extracts from
Levy, William and Michell, John (editors). Souvenir Programme for the Official Lynching of Michael Abdul Malik with Poems, Stories, Sayings by the Condemned (Privately published: Cambridge, England, 1973).
Thursdays on Death Row
On Wednesday the voices of all the prisoners acquire a higher pitch.
Thursday morning begins like any other morning. By 10 a.m. the voices are stilled. Scarcely a sound can be heard, all are waiting. Today, Thursday, is the big day. If your time has come, from the office at the far end of corridor will come some officials, they will stand in front of your cell and they will salute you with a word from the Governor General, “Greetings”.
All await that dreaded word. Everyone waits for it: It comes on a Thursday. Between the Thursday, that fatal Thursday and the Tuesday, there is a flurry of activity. You are weighed, the trap of the gallows is greased…Most times hymns are sung all weekend [and] after that long pre-demise wake, it’s all over. Relief at last. Until then one dies every Thursday, waiting.
I write the above from within these walls. I pray, I hope that, someone somewhere will listen. I write on my behalf and on behalf of all up here, the innocent wrongly convicted, the guilty who are repentant, and even the sinners, for in all Holy Books it is written that Justice should be tempered with Mercy where ever possible.
From MS On Death Row, August 1973
Souvenir Programme for the Official Lynching of Michael Abdul Malik, page 41
Traditional Medicine in Trinidad
When I was a kid I had a very frightening experience for a little guy.
I was about nine and this voodoo priest in our country, an Indian who lived way, way side of a place called Laslomas – he’s still there that fellow – and he lived up there which is quite inaccessible to anything like a car or anything like that, or even a bicycle. You had to drive way, way down into somewhere and then you had to walk through a lot of bushes where there are snakes. And everybody always says he was a very powerful man.
There was this little girl who lived close up to us and she was ill and very sick and they called doctors and they called all manner of things to get her better.
All of the doctors just said: Well, you know, sorry we can’t straighten you out, can’t help you.
The little girl was dying.
She was lying like in a state of unconsciousness, semi-consciousness and the neighbours they say: You got to see the pundit – the pundit, go and see him.
So the mother in sheer desperation called to see this man.
Through the snakes. Yes, she went there and she got in.
He told her, according to her, it’s too late – go back.
She said, I give you anything just say what you want. What do you mean it is too late? I want my daughter.
She probably told a good story and he decided he will come and see her.
Now this is where I come into this story.
I was a little cat you know, eight, nine years old and we heard this man’s coming. And all the little boys in the area we went down the street to see him.
I lived in a place called Bellmont. To get a real picture of this thing you have to understand the kind of lives lived inside the West Indies. Very hot, we wear very short pants and if you are as poor as we were – no shoes. And all the neighbours coming out who look very much as we look, only red, white and blue cotton dresses and hats which had its day falling around their necks.
You know how people get on in these slums, shouting from house to house.
We went down to see him and he was walking up – very tall, very beautiful guy, great turban on his head and nice clothes.
All the little boys are just hiding in doorways because we don’t want to get too close to this character – this cat.
This cat very coolly strolls up into this woman’s house, gets inside and there is the little girl lying on the bed half-dead.
Some of us are peeking through little places at what’s happening inside there. Some of us inside.
He says, don’t send anyone out. Leave them there.
And he said, close the windows. So they closed the windows.
He said, shut everything off, let nothing come in or out of this room. They have these wooden slats there and they are busy stuffing these flaps with old rags and anything that they can get their hands on.
They shut everything. Everything completely shut up.
He stood at the foot of the bed. He looked at the bed. Everybody is looking at him.
Then somebody look at the child and there was this great shout. The child was sitting. She was sitting up.
He said: That bee - there was a bee in the room – don’t let it out. Got to keep it in this room.
This bee is buzzing around and flying all around and he left. The bee fell into the sink with the wash dishes and it went through the hole.
And the child dropped dead.
Conversations with Alpert 1967
Souvenir Programme for the Official Lynching of Michael Abdul Malik, pages 20-21