Panic in Town

Panic in Town

Panic in Town Posted In:

Joyce was excited about the day’s outing to Port of Spain. For several years, in the weeks prior  to Christmas, she would leave her home in rural Gran Couva and travel to the nation’s capital. She enjoyed seeing the decorated shops and hoped to get some good bargains. This year was even more special as it was the first time she would be taking her seven year old daughter, Shannon.

Shannon was even more excited than her mom. She had learnt about Port of Spain in her Social Studies class and was anxious to see all the landmarks that she read about in her textbook; Woodford Square, Independence Square and especially the Red House.

At eight o’ clock they were both dressed and ready to leave home. They would have to take three taxis from their home to get to Port of Spain. Joyce had already told Shannon that it would be a long journey.  The first taxi took them to Couva, the second to Chaguanas and the final one to Port of Spain. As they neared the capital, Shannon stuck her head out the window, eager to get a first glimpse of the city. As they alighted from the taxi on Independence Square, Shannon looked around her in awe.

“Look at how big that church is, mom! And so many cars and people!”

Joyce smiled at her daughter as exclaimed in delight at all the new sights around her.

“Let’s go this way, honey,” she said gently guiding the excited child.

“Where are we going?”

“We will walk up Frederick Street as far as Woodford Square and the Red House.”

“Yes! I want to see the Red House.”

The two started their journey along one of the city’s main shopping streets. Joyce went into a few stores looking at the clothes, curtains, housewares and other goods that were on sale. Shannon enjoyed going into the bookstores most of all. Her mother always bought books for herself and her cousins for Christmas and she looked forward to picking out the presents for them.

As they were exiting the bookstore, loud sounds rang through the air. Joyce quickly grabbed Shannon’s hand. There was screeching of tyres as cars came to an abrupt stop. On the sidewalk people were scampering left and right. Joyce heard screams coming from her left.

“Gunman in town!” one passerby yelled out.

“Run!” someone else called out.

“Mom! What is happening?” Shannon asked Joyce, her voice full of fear.

“Come on! We have to go!” She held her hand tighter and pulled her along the sidewalk towards the taxi stand. Her heart was pounding. Everything around her was a blur.

Shannon struggled to keep up with her mother. All around them people were running in different directions. Joyce realised that Shannon was struggling so she dropped the bag with the books and picked up her daughter without slowing down. The only thing on her mind was to get them both out of Port of Spain as soon as possible.

When they got to the taxi stand there were many people with the same intention as she. Cars were filling up fast. Joyce put Shannon down and hurried along the row of cars looking for an available one. Luckily for her, there was a taxi with two empty seats. The driver called out to her as he saw her with a child. He helped them get into the taxi as fast as possible and he sped off. He too was in a hurry to leave the capital.

Only when they had passed the lighthouse did Joyce’s heart start to slow down and she was able to relax a little. Shannon had stopped crying but she was still frightened and clutched her mother’s hand tightly. Joyce pulled her daughter close to her as another passenger gave her a napkin to wipe her tears.

The return journey to Gran Couva went a lot faster than the one to Port of Spain. There was no stopping to look at the sights. Joyce just wanted to get to the safety of their home. This was not the experience she wanted her daughter to have on her first visit to the capital. She knew they would not be returning for a long time. Shannon as well, didn’t have any desire to return.

Aarti Gosine is the Managing Director of JAV Publishing House and has also written three children’s books, The Magic Cave, More Adventures in the Magic Cave and the Jaeden Ring. This trilogy is ideal for children in the 7-10 age group. Aarti also writes short stories for The Northerly, a community based supplement and is the Managing Editor for Trinidad Weddings Wed-zine magazine.

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