Susannah

Story and photos by Bebi Oosman

Koarlall Deojami weighs a pound of potatoes in his shop

Just before Bohemia on the Corentyne, East Berbice is the tiny village of Susannah, also called Number 15, a fairly obscure community as most persons refer to the road up to the Borlam turn as the “Nineteen Road,” although Number 19 is a few villages away.

So when visiting Susannah one would have to tell the driver to stop at “the big bridge,” which is a landmark, according to residents, rather than say the name of the village.

Susannah has a single grocery shop, one restaurant and one place of worship – a mandir. Included in its population of approximately 100 persons are four nursery school students, six primary school students and four high school students. They have to travel to the next village, Canje or New Amsterdam to attend school.

Across the big bridge are a few cross streets with houses and beautiful, green pastures.

Shopkeeper Koarlall Deojami, who was a hire car driver for many years, but decided to open a grocery shop in the village some three years ago, said that the one thing he loves about Susannah is that it is always quiet and peaceful.

As he stood in his shop speaking to the World Beyond Georgetown, he was interrupted by only one villager who wanted to purchase one pound of potatoes, though his is the only grocery shop in the village. The 67-year-old, who left school in form two, said, “I like everything about this village, everybody a live like a family here.”

Laughing, he said that the only reason villagers lock their gates is to sleep soundly at night and not to be disturbed by animals. “We put padlocks on our gates, so that cows and dogs will not come in,” he added. He confidently said, “If you take out a bad person from another village and bring him to this village he gun turn good. If you bring you bicycle and park in on the road in the morning and go you way, when you come back in the afternoon, me promise you… that you bicycle will still be there. But me na promise you if you left am overnight, you will come reach it back, because someone from another village might pass and see it and say it na get owner and take it.”

The father of three said he has no plans to migrate, ever, as he loves his village and country. He also said that although most of the time sales are good, persons normally go to New Amsterdam and Port Mourant market to do most of their shopping.

An overseas-based Guyanese, who is on vacation in Guyana, said he and his wife would come here during winter in the country where they reside. He said, “I grew up here, everybody live like a one family… I never had a problem here.” As he stood on his bridge, he recalled that the biggest incident he encountered in the village was a few years back, when they were away at a wake and someone went into their home and stole clothes and other items. “Kitchen thief,” he labelled it. He said he was living in Susannah when Guyana gained its independence and is happy that it has now been fifty years. He said, “Things got better after independence.”

Although he was a tailor before retiring, he said, “The conditions change in the sugar industry. It was hard under the British.”

As the World Beyond Georgetown traversed the streets of Susannah most residents, who were senior citizens, had finished their daily chores and were relaxing in their hammocks.

Forty-eight-year-old Lalita Ramsaywack, who moved to Susannah about a year ago from the upper Corentyne, said there is not a lot to do in the village, but she likes it there anyway.

The woman who lives with her husband and children said, “Most things you have to go to New Amsterdam or Corentyne for, but I like it a lot here.”

Rohit Singh, 78, a pensioner, who lives alone, said he enjoys living there. He explained that when he was younger he visited many villages but somehow his heart told him to stay in Susannah. “Although it doesn’t have different races living in here, the people are not racial, we talk and laugh and gaff with everybody,” he said.

He spends most of his day at home relaxing unless he has to run errands. Although he lives alone, his yard was neatly kept.

Susannah houses one of the best known restaurants in the county, called Future Line Fast Foods. The restaurant is the largest building in the village.

It also has two ice cream vans that go village to village selling cones and other goodies. According to residents in Susannah, ‘Future Line’s cone is one of the best in Berbice.”

Villagers said there is not much that needs to be done in the village. They highlighted that the roads were rebuilt a few years ago. It was noticed that several of the houses in the village seemed locked up and residents said that 15 houses were empty, as the owners have migrated.

According to one villager, when they are not at work they either relax or go fishing. He said “It is a village to come and live and be in peace.”

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