Supply is one of the villages in Mahaica on the East Coast Demerara and is home to more than 500 people. It is considered by its residents to be the most harmonious village in Guyana.
When I visited, I found Kussilla Jagasar in a deep conversation with her ‘samdin’, Bhagmatee Ivan, at her daughter’s residence, a stone’s throw away from where she lives. She introduced herself and her samdin explaining that Ivan’s son is married to her daughter giving meaning to their samdin relationship. Her daughter, she said, had invited her and Ivan over since they were the eldest of the two families.
Jagasar was born in the village and celebrated her 89th birthday on December 17. When she was a child, she shared, her father planted rice and she and her siblings (a brother and sister) took care of the cows and other livestock. “Meh bin deh bout eight to nine/ten year when I used to tek care of the cows dem,” Jagasar related. “By then me had already know to cook all kind dishes… dhall, rice, curry, polourie, biganie and all kind sweet dishes. When me reach 14 me marrid.”
Prior to getting married, she attended the Supply Methodist School. Life meant hard work, but she was built for that sort of life, she explained. At the time she was married, she added, she knew to do everything and often found herself on the farm, milking cows, planting and weeding. She planted rice, banana, plantain, eddo and cassava. Water for the plants came from the conservancy. “We grow with black wata doing everything. Everything abee do with it – bathing, rubbing [washing], cooking and drinking,” she said.
Their houses were built of kous grass, eatee and cabbage bags and she remembered daubing the floor and walls with cow manure until she could afford to buy wood to build a better home for herself and family. Today she has a nicely furnished, two-storey concrete house, but noted that it took hard work and many years of saving every dollar.
Up to two years ago, she did everything for herself and farmed as well but age has caught up with her and her children take care of her.
Comparing Supply years ago to what it is now, Jagasar said, “The village has turned upside-down,” explaining that in years gone by persons showed consideration for their environment and the people who live around them; it is not like that today. “The dam where we used to walk on to go backdam damage from a man carrying and bringing dutty back and [forth] for the villagers with his heavy-duty machine. Now the dam bruk down and children and other people getting problem to use the dam and use their tractor fuh guh on the dam. And now place all a full wid water it ah swamp the middle walk. The thing is now the middle walk [four-foot drain] want to dig and throw the dutty on the dam and build the dam. The dam gone down flat. Long time them white man come with them boat at the lama and drive come down the dam. Now you can’t drive. You can’t even walk. It full a big, big holes from them cows and full a grass. Long ago it was smooth, smooth, smooth the dam.” Jagasar added that when her husband was alive this sort of thing would have never happened because as soon as something needed fixing in the village, he made it his duty as a resident to inform the Neighbourhood Democratic Council and be persistent until it was fixed.
Nevertheless, Jagasar said she was grateful for her life and for family. She bore ten children and nine are still alive today. From them she has 22 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
Eighty-five-year-old Dhanesri Kumar hails from Pine Grove, Mahaicony Creek and moved to live in Belmont, the nearby village after getting married. Many years after settling in Belmont she and her family moved to Supply.
Though the village was far from what it is today as regards population and development, the woman said it was much easier contemplating having to travel by boat when she lived in the creek. She depended on water from the Middle Walk for everything. It was a long time after she arrived in Supply that the village was finally able to have potable water.
For the most part the family planted and sold fruits. Though not on a large scale like they once did they still sell fruits today.
“It is nice and quiet here. Don’t have to worry about people making noise with the music set. Transportation here is easy. Back in the days we had to walk. Today we can call a taxi. The market is nearby, and we can get our greens and fish and meat; the supermarkets are right there also,” Kumar said. She and her family attend the Supply Hindu Temple.
Ronald Wilson sat looking on while relatives set tables and chairs out in the yard and placed cheese straws and other goodies on the tables. Preparations were being made for a wedding anniversary celebration.
A native of the village, Wilson remembered residents always being active in sports and socializing with each other, adding that the same still happens today but not quite as often owing to the internet slowly changing the way people socialize. Yet he maintained that Supply is one of the most harmonious villages adding that he would know being a miner who often travels to various parts of Guyana for work. “The children are more now into the internet but basically this village, from the time I growing up to now, is the same where culture and farming is related. People do mostly rice and cash crop farming and rearing of livestock,” Wilson said.
“Christmas is the time for family and whichever part of Guyana I am or whichever part of the world, I try to be back home for Christmas.”
Reflecting on 2018, he said the year was good adding that he has no regrets but knows also it could have been better and plans on making 2019 better.
“Here in Supply we have a relationship with each other that is second to none throughout Guyana. We live in love in spite of our race, creed or culture. If I have to choose, I would always choose Supply. Here is where my family is, here is where I feel comfortable. I’ve seen places that have similar lifestyles as here, but you know, you own is you own,” he stressed.
As relates to challenges, the first thing that was mentioned was the frequent blackouts in the area, especially when the family was about to celebrate a special occasion. On top of that once the electricity goes so does the water. The second thing was the need for better roads, especially the street leading to the Supply Nursery School. Wilson added too that streetlights would make it easier to traverse at nights while noting also that the village could do with better drainage and irrigation as it floods sometimes when it rains heavily.
Challenges aside, Wilson said that the cooperation and neighbourly love shown by the villagers of Supply makes it a safe environment. “I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your staff at Stabroek News and everyone in my community a happy and prosperous New Year,” Wilson said.