Like many young Guyanese men, my tall, handsome teenage brother bravely headed off into the bush to seek his fickle fortune labouring with ambitious friends on a private mining dredge.

Only paid a percentage if the team produced, he was away for months at a time, as they arduously searched for flecks of alluvial diamonds and later flashes of gold, often going weeks without a decent find. In that turbulent time of the 1980s, when there were no cell phones, we would anxiously await word in Georgetown, through the intermittent bush telegraph, praying and hoping all was okay, and that he was not going to come home in a body bag or a box. Subject to factors like weather, equipment, food, luck and security, Raymond would eventually emerge from the interior, often ravaged by an umpteenth battle with mosquitoes, influenza or typhoid, and in a weary mess, gaunt and gloomy-eyed, unable to walk and carrying more malaria and malaise, than money.

In the unwritten code of the industry, his worried workmates waiting for their own inevitable brush with death, disease and destruction, would hurriedly transport him by speedboat to the main landing, to be lifted into whichever vehicle was available and able to make it out in days of unpredictable travelling along rough roads that were really a miserable morass of mud.

Delirious with severe fever and aches, shive….

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