Reading Time: 10 minutes

Sori  lidɔm na in bed we i kɔmɔt wok wan Tyusde ivin. In bɔdi bin taya bad. Da de de i bin did dɔn wok plɛnti. Frɔm sɛvin na mɔnin te af-pas-fo na aftanun, i bin de krɔb flo, was plet, kuk ɛn swip.

          “Bɔy wok nɔ izi o,” i se to in sɛf. I lidɔm na in matras de smok sigrɛt, fayn bris bin de blo na di rum. Wan chia nɔmɔ bin de insay, wit wan tebul we bin get lili panlamp pantap am. Pantap di tebul, ɔl Sori in yit: tu tin sadin, fo tin milk, wan mol bred, ɛn wan plet rɛs ɛn fis.

          “Wan de we a gɛt kɔpɔ, a swɛ a go muf naya, go fɛn wan fayn smɔl os fɔ mi ɛn Salwa we wi mared.” I bigin fɔ mɛmba in ‘wɛf’.

          I ɛn Salwa bin dɔn de fɔ fayv iya ɛn i bin stil lɛk am bad. Na fɔseka kɔpɔ nɔmɔ mek i nɔ bin dɔn mared am et. Frɔm we dɛn tu bigin, Sori nɔ ɛva mɛmba fɔ fala ɔda uman. Salwa na bin fayn blak titi, af Madinga, af Timini. Frɔn di tɛm we Sori sabi am, i de wok na Kisi Rod Makit de sɛl pamayn. Pan ɔl di uman dɛn we Sori bin dɔn ɛva gɛt na in layf, na Salwa mek i wan kres. Nɔto bikɔs nɔmɔ di gyal bin fayn pas ɛnibɔdi o, bɔt bikɔs “na pikin we gɛt gud trik,” as Sori kin tɛl in padi dɛn. ɛn fɔ tru, Salwa na bin bɛtɛ-bɛtɛ titi fɔ ɛni man.

          “Aya, a wish i bin de ya naw . . . lɛkɛ we ren de kam so.”

Ren bin de kam nado gud-gud wan—dɛn swit Julay ren.  Sori wish i bin de wit am lɛk’ we fayn bris de blo. Wetin mek di pikin bin gɛ fɔ go ɔplayn fɔ go fɛn in mama? I tan lek’ na las iya I go. Nɔ wɔnda Sori in padi dɛn kin laf am:

          “Aw mɔtal man go lɛk uman so?!” dɛn kin ambɔg am. “Luk ɔmɔs uman dɛn de na dis tɔng fɔ gɛt, bɔt yu nɔ de ɛnjɔy dɛn. ɛnti yu no se Marabu nɔ de mared wan uman nɔmɔ?”

          Sori layt in rɛdyo. I bin tek ɔl in kɔpɔ bay di lili tranzistɔ las mɔnt. As i tɔn am, i yɛri wan fayn rɛkɔd, Bɛla Dama, de ple. I sɛt in yay ɛn bigin fɔ mɛmba fa. Slip bin de kech am we i yɛri sɔmbɔdi de nak na do saful-wan.

          “Udat da’an de naw jis wɛn a wan bɔl te mɔnin!”

I go opin di do. Udat i si de bɔt in yon yon Salwa.

          “Wetin yu de fɛn naya?”

I nɔ ebul bilif se na Salwa. Di titi tinap de sok-sok wan. I de trimbul lɛkɛ udat gɛ fiva.

          “Sori, du ya, mek a kam insay.”

          “Kam insay kwik. Wetin mek yu waka ɔnda ren? Luk we di ples dak, tɛnda ol de rol. Yu nɔ de fred? Bɔt a gladi fɔ si yu. A min na nɛks wik yu fɔ kam. Aw yu kam kwik so? A jis lidɔm naya de mɛmba yu, we fayn myuzik na rɛdyo mek a wan slip.”

Sori ol am tek am go insay di rum. Di slip we bin de kech am go fɔs wan flori.

          “Kam sidɔm to mi naya. Tɛl mi wetin apin bikɔs sɔntin luk rɔng wit yu.”           

           “Natin nɔ du mi bo. A bin jis wan si yu nɔmɔ.”

“Fɔ tru? Na mi yu lɛk so we mek yu lef yu mama kam bifo tɛm?” Salwa shɛk in ed, bɔt i nɔ tɔk.

“Tɛl mi nɔ? Yu yɛri bad yus we yu mekes kam?”

          “Nɔ.”

          “Wɛl, a nɔ ɔndastan wetin mek yu kam!”

Dɛn tu sidɔm de listin di ren nado. Nɔmbɔdi nɔ tɔk fɔ tu minit. Di rɛdyo de ple myuzik—dɛn slo Kongo myuzik. Sori nɔ bin no wetin fɔ se to di titi. Fɔ di fɔs tɛm na in layf i jis nɔ no wetin fɔ se to in ‘wɛf’. Salwa nɔto bin di kanaba uman we kin grap du tin kwik-kwik wan lɛk’ kres man. I tɔn luk di gyal.

          “A go bring tawel fɔ yu? Pul yu klos mek yu nɔ go sik. A go bring blankit.”

I nɔ bin tan lɛk’ di titi yɛri wetin i se sɛf. I tɔn in yay fawe to di winda. Sori pul wan kɔntri-klos kɔmɔt na wan bɔks. I kɛr am go na di matras. Salwa bin dɔn pul in temle ɛn lapa. I lidɔm na di bed wit in yay sɛt. Sori tek di blankit rap am.

          “Yu bɔdi kol. Sɔntin du yu? Salwa, tɔk to mi bo. A nɔ lɛk we yu de sidɔm saful-wan so. Nɔto so yu dɔn yus fɔ du.”

          “Sori, nɔto se a nɔ wan tɛl yu, bɔt . . .”

 “Bɔt wetin?”

          “A nɔ go ebul fɔ tɛl yu naw.”

Sori luk Salwa gud. I bin no se i de ayd sɔntin. In mayn bigin fɔ go fa. I grap na di matras go tinap na di winda. Ren bin stil de kam. Di tɛnda naw bin de rol fawe. ɛf na bin ɔda tɛm lɛk’ i go dɔn ɔt in panlamp go lidɔm to Salwa.

          “I tan lɛk’ se dis titi dɔn mit sɔmbɔdi na Yengema we i lɛk pas mi,” i se to in sɛf. I bigin mɛmba ɔl kayn tin: ɛf i dɔn go wit ɔda man, wetin a go du?

Sori tinap na di winda fɔ wan gud tɛn minit. We i tɔn in ed i si Salwa tinap de luk am.

          “A min yu bin lidɔm. Kam sidɔm mek wi tɔk. A gɛ fɔ tɔk to yu. I lɛk yu nɔ wan tɔk, na bay fos naw yu go tɔk. A nɔ ɔndastan. Wan de yu nɔ mek so. Tɛl mi, du ya.”

As Sori ol am fɔ shub am na di bed, Salwa jomp.

          “Sori, Sori, du ya, na ol mi!” Sori mumu.

          “A titi, us kayn biznɛs dis? Mi yon uman igen nɔ de gri fɔ mek a ol am? ɛf na sik yu sik, yu nɔ go gri fɔ mek a ol yu saful-wan sɛf?”

Sori grap na di bed wit vɛks. I krach in ed. “Salwa, a swɛ dis wan bit mi tɛm. I luk lɛk’ se na sɔn man-biznɛs de ambɔg yu.”

          “Ay Sori, aw yu go tɔk tin lɛkɛ dat?”

          “A go tɔk am, yɛs; us man yu dɔn go lidɔm wit na Yengema? Us trɔbul yu dɔn go tot we mek yu de fred fɔ tɔk to mi?’

          “Ay Papa Gɔd, aw yu go tɛl mi wɔd lɛkɛ dat? Dis tu-tri de we a go ɔplayn, na in a go dɔn fɛn ɔda man?”

          “I kin bi, mi sista. Wetin igen go mek yu go fred fɔ tɔk to mi? ɛn a swɛ, Salwa, ɛf na so bi, a go kil yu!”

          “ɛf na bin dat sɛf, i bɛtɛ.”

          “Wetin yu min, ‘ɛf na bin dat sɛf’.  Wetin de we bad pas dat? A swɛ to mi mami, yu go si bit tide, tin we a nɔ yus fɔ du, yu go gɛt am tide. Sɔntɛm na we a nɔ wan de put mi an pan yu. Mi brɔda dɛn bin dɔn tɛl mi se uman nɔ wan saful. We a sho yu se a lɛk yu . . . Ay Salwa, so na so yu du mi!”

Sori grap bak go tinap na di winda. Ren bin stil de kam.

          “Sori, gi mi chans nɔ, mek a tɛl yu.”

          “Us chans? A de tɔk to yu, yu nɔ de ansa. A dɔn aks yu te a taya, bɔt i tan lɛk’ a de tɔk to wɔl.”

          “Nɔ Sori. Sidɔm, a go tɛl yu.”

Sori ɔt di lamp. Di rɛdyo bin de ple saful-wan:

          Fɔ lɛk pɔsin tumɔs nɔ gud o,

          Fɔ lɛk pɔsin lɛk’ aw a lɛk yu,

          Wan de yu go du mi bad o,

          Yɛs-o, Mariatu.

  “A Gɔd, wetin du,” Salwa pini en i tɔn in yay fawe.

          Pan ɔl dat, a go lɛk yu,

          Pan ɔl dat yu go lɛk mi;

          ɛf yu du mi bad sɛf,

          A go no se nɔto yu.

          Mariatu.

          “Salwa, mek wi lidɔm tɔk.”

          “Sori, a go tɛl yu, bɔt mek wi nɔ lidɔm. ɛf a lidɔm wit yu, a nɔ go ebul fɔ tɔk. Sori luk am kojumakoju.* Salwa in yay dɛn bin fayn, ɛn i bin tan lɛk’ dis nɛt dɛn bin fayn mɔ; bɔt as i bigin tɔk, dɛn ful wit wata.

          “Sori, a go tɛl yu tin we go mek yu sɔri bad.”

“Tɛl mi.”

          “Ay Gɔd, mi yon layf,” Salwa pini bak; “Sori, a gɛ fɔ lɛf yu.”  

“Lɛf mi? Usay yu de go? Yu de lɛf mi fɔ ɔda man? Tɛl mi du ya, mek a de no. Yu dɔn fɛn man we bɛtɛ pas mi, gɛ kɔpɔ pas mi? Salwa, yu sɛf no se a nɔ gɛ kɔpɔ. Yu no se na fɔ yu nɔmɔ mek a de wok ebri de, de krɔb flo ɛn was plet. Mi a nɔ sabi buk bɔt a nɔ les. A go wok te mi kanda kɔmɔt na mi an fɔ mek a go ebul mared yu ɛn bɔn pikin wit yu. Was na fɔ yu, a go ɛbul du am. Bɔt ɛf yu dɔn fɛn ɔda man afta ɔl wetin a dɔn du fɔ yu, wɛn a dɔn dɔn wit yu, a nɔ tink se da man de go want yu igen. Tɔk.”

          “Sori, a gɛ fɔ go fawe. Fa fawe. A nɔ wan go, bɔt aw fɔ du? Di lɛk we a lɛk yu, yu sɛf no se natin nɔ go mek a lɛf yu,  pas tin we na Gɔd se.”

          “Usay yu de go? Dis ples nɔ gɛ nɛm?”

Salwa nɔ ansa.

“Salwa a go fala yu go. I lɛk usay yu de go, i lɛk wetin yu se, a go go wit yu.”

          “Nɔ Sori, mek God nɔ gri. Nɔto se a nɔ wan mek yu kam, bɔt yu nɔ go ebul. Sɔntɛm, tɛm go kam we yu go kam mit mi, bot nɔto naw.”

          “Wɛl, aw yu want mek mi de naya, a nɔ no usay yu de ɔ wetin yu de du?”

          “Sori du ya,” wata bigin kɔmɔt na Salwa in yay. “Wan tin nɔmɔ a wan mek yu no. A lɛk yu, ɛn a nɔ du natin we go mek yu shem. A nɔ de go nɔn say we ɔda man go de fɔ mi.”

          “Yu nɔ go tɛl mi mɔ?”

          “A nɔ go tɛl yu naw, bɔt yu go no ɔl tin bifo tumara.”

          “ɛf yu nɔ tɛl mi, aw a go no?”

          “Yu go no.”

          Dɛn sidɔm. Dɛn nɔ tɔk igen. I tan lɛk’ spirit pas na di rum. Afta tu minit, Salwa grap na di matras. I waka insay go fɛn di klos we i bin pul fɔ dray. Sori luk in bɔdi. I blak ɛn fayn. Salwa wɛr in klos, dɔn i go timap bifo Sori. I ol in an dɛn. In yay dɛn bin de shayn.

          “Kam go lɛf mi na rod. I dɔn tɛm fɔ mek a go naw, Sori. Di ren dɔn lɛf fɔ kam.”

          Dɛn go nado. Di ples bin frɛsh ɛn kol. Dɛn tu waka te rich wan bɔsɔlt. Wantem, na in Sori mɛmba se i nɔ bin dɔn aks Salwa aw fa fɔ kɛr am go lɛf am, ɛn us transpot i fɔ go tek. I nɔ tɔk natin, so i nɔ aks am. I jis fala ram. We dɛn rich wan big mangro tik, Salwa tok:

          “Sori, naya mi fambul dɛn bin se dɛn go mit mi.”

          “A go wet yu te dɛn kam.”

          “Nɔ!” Salwa ala wantem. In bɔdi bigin trimbul.

          “Bo yu nɔ wan mek a si yu fambul dɛn sɛf? Ay Salwa, a nɔ bin wan fɔ tɔk am, bɔt a tink se yu dɔn bigin kres. A gɛ mayn fɔ tap ɔl dis mɔnanɔshi** ɛn kɛr yu go to mɛrɛsin-man fɔ mek yu go wɛl. Yu nɔto di Salwa we a bin no, a swɛ to God. Bɔt ɛf yu kres, ɛf pɔsin bin wich yu na Yengema, a go stil lɛk yu. ɛf nɔmbɔdi nɔ ebul fɔ mɛn yu, mi go mɛn yu. Lɛ wi tɔn bak go om, du ya.”

          “Aya, ɛf a bin kres sɛf, sɔntɛm i bin fɔ bɛtɛ fɔ mi ɛn yu. Sori, a dɔn tɛl yu. Bay tumara yu go dɔn no ɔl tin we de fɔ no bɔt mi. Jis mɛmba se . . . a Gɔd . . . a lɛk yu tide, a bin lɛk yu yɛstade, ɛn a go lek yu tumara. A swɛ to di lɛk we mi ɛn yu dɔn gɛt fɔ wisef, wan de wi tu go si bak. I nɔ go te. ɛn we wi si bak, wi nɔ go pat igen igen.”

          “Aw yu go go lɛf mi so? I tan lɛk’ na drim a de drim. A nɔ ebul biliv.”

          “Sori, ɛf a ol yu ɛn a grip yu lɛkɛ aw a wan fɔ du, sɔntin bad go bi bikɔs a nɔ go ebul fɔ lɛf yu ɛn a go gɛ fɔ kɛr yu go. ɛf yu go wit mi . . . ɛf yu go wit mi . . .”

          “Salwa wɛl mek a ol yu wan tɛm nɔmɔ.”

          “Nɔ, mi fambul dɛn go kam jisnɔ. Du ya, go.”

Sori luk di titi gud. As i de tɔn de go, i yɛri bris de blo bɛtɛ-bɛtɛ wan biyɛn am. We i tɔn to in lɛf-an, di fɔs tin we i bin si na di bɛrin-grɔn biyɛn di mangro-tik dɛn. We i tɔn gud fɔ luk Salwa wan tɛm mɔ, i nɔ si natin—nɔmbɔdi—natin! Wantɛm i le. I rɔn-rɔn-rɔn-rɔn lɛkɛ dɛbul de biyɛn am. I nɔ bin de si, i nɔ bin de yɛri arara.****

                                      *     *     *

Nɛks mɔnin, Sori fɛn insɛf na in bed. We i opin in yay, i bigin tɔk:

          “Wetin bi? Luk we mi bɔdi de trimbul!  Mi bɔdi ɔl sok wit swɛt. Us kayn bad-bad drim a drim bɔt Salwa so? Wɛn a go tɛl am, i go jis laf.  Bɔt na di las tɛm dis a go gri mek i go say we mi nɔ de go. A nɔ de ivin slip gud sɛf we i nɔ de tɔng.”

Sori grap go na yad fɔ go was. ɔl di tɛm i de was, i de mɛmba in drim. “Dis a go ebul go wok so? Mi ed de at mi. I tan lɛk’ a wan gɛ fiva. Bɔt a go go. Aw fɔ du?”

          Sori wɛr klos en go na trit. Aw i de waka nɔmɔ, i mit Awanatu, wan Salwa in kɔzin kɔmɔt na wan podapoda.

      “Sori! Sori! Sori, na yu a wan si sɛf! Masi-o, mi mami, way!”

          “Wetin dat?”

“Salwa in brɔda kam tɔng yɛstade nɛt fɔ tɛl wi se, a Gɔd—”        

Awanatu nɔ ebul tɔk dɔn. I bigin kray.

          “Tɔk bo, du ya!”

          “Di brɔda se Salwa day yɛstade aftanun. I bin gɛt bad-bad maleria. Bay di tɛm dɛn de mɛmba fɔ bring am kam tɔng fɔ si dɔkta, na in day tek am go. Yɛstade bay dɛn fayv oklɔk. Dɛn de bring di bɔdi tide fɔ kam bɛr am na da bɛrin-grɔn yanda. ɛnti wi ɔl we na in fambul tap naya, pas in mama; bɔt in sɛf de kam.”

                                      *     *     *

Fɔ lɛk pɔsin tumɔs nɔ gud o,

                               Fɔ lɛk pɔsin lɛk’ aw a lɛk yu;

                               Wan de yu go du mi bad o,

                               Yɛs-o, Salwa

                               Pan ɔl dat, a go lɛk yu,

                               Pan ɔl dat yu go lɛk mi,

                               ɛf yu du mi bad sɛf,

                               A go no se nɔto yu.

                               Salwa.

“Luk da ol kres-man na bɛrin-grɔn de sing.” Wan lili bɔbɔ tɔn to in padi fɔ sho am di ol, dray man de waka na di bɛrin-grɔn en sing. In iya bin de chakachaka wan na in ed, ɛn i nɔ bin wɛr natin pas wan chɛr dɔti pisis rawnd in wes.

          “Da kres-man de? A dɔn si am plɛnti tɛm. Dɛn se na de i tap. Ol nɛt i kin de sing. Dɛn se na wan uman—mi mayn gi mi se na bin in wɛf—wich am, lɔng bifo mi ɛn yu bɔn. Na in mek i nɔ de lɛf dis ples ya.”

          “Hm. Kam wi mekes go om. Mi mama go dɔn kuk dɔn fɔ wi. A nɔ lɛk fɔ waka nya bɛrin-grɔn. Dɛn se, na nɛt ɔl dɛn day-man dɛn kin de grap fɔ wakabɔt ɔlsay.”

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Velma Mitchell spent the first nine years of her life, all her teenage years, and later, several more years in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Married, she is a retired secondary education English language and literature teacher, and adjunct community college instructor in the New York City area. Da Lek We Pas Die was written in 1972.

*Kojumakoju: Eyeball to eyeball

**Mɔnanɔshi: Long-form of noshi-noshi: rubbish, nonsense, stupid

***Chakachaka: Untidy, disheveled

****Arara: nothing whatsoever

3 Comments

  • Posted September 12, 2021
    by Alice

    Da lek wae pass die indeed- very interesting. Solwa cam sae goodbye to Sori na dream – awesome

  • Posted September 14, 2021
    by Femi King

    A bit challenging to read in Krio, but quite enthralling and fast paced. Could be useful for students studying Krio in high school.

  • Posted September 17, 2021
    by Mallam O.

    My Krio author Daphne Pratt should read this. I have published her books, “Soso parebul” and “Krio Salat”.
    Mallam O.

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