Green Days By The River by Michael Anthony was that coming of age book for coming of age people. Although it wasn’t on our secondary-school reading list, I found a copy and quickly dived into a love story of the shy and the naive. I so easily identified with the curiosity of Shellie and the sheltered life of Rosalie even though the story was set in 1952.
Of all the Caribbean novels that I cherish (Miguel Street, A Brighter Sun, Harriet’s Daughter), seeing Green Days By The River adapted to film was so fulfilling. Michael Mooledhar and Christian James brought my childhood characters to life in the richness of creole without compromising authenticity of life on the rock. And the mesmerizing dance scenes of Discovery Fair and Cocoa Bean Drying were healthy additions to an already interesting plot.
I love a good score and Laura Karpman painted the Trinidadian landscape with every whistle, chant and pa-dum. Love and despair swirled in a literal mix of African and Asian rhythms as you transitioned through each season of Shellie’s life. The lighthearted storyline then comes to an abrupt, ominous ending that would catch a newcomer off guard. And the perpetrator of it all was Gidharee, Rosalie’s father, played by Anand Lawkaran.
This colourful character inserted himself into Shellie’s very destiny and I do wonder if Shellie regrets the day he met Mr. Gidharee. You see…
…When your future father-in-law is Mr. Gidharee:
- Your nickname is audaciously masculinized.
- Three hunting dogs become your best friends: Hitler, Tiger and Lion. As if that isn’t a clear hint of danger,
- You gladly trek to Cedar Grove with the hopes of seeing Rosalie, unknown to you, your future wife.
- Although you were not rewarded a glance of her, you pick her Seville Sweet with gusto.
- Roti and rum for lunch, peppered with some choice cuss words in normal ting.
- The longer your Pa takes to recover, the more apparent it is that he has appointed himself as your new father,
- Which means his land and investments, again unknown to you, are your inheritance
- And next thing you know, you having a “parent-approved” river swim with Rosalie who has now become Ro.
- He quietly approves Ro’s romantic interest in you, not caring that her rejection has caused you to find love else where.
- Your attempt to draw a love triangle results in a dragon-fueled battle with your best-friends (see number 2) which redefines the meaning of arranged marriage. Jus so’ jus so’ life ova.
Did Shellie deserve such a brutal end? Without being given the chance to learn from his mistakes?
If you read the book, saw the movie or learnt enough from the spoilers-What would you do if Mr. Gidharee was your future father-in-law?