Fiction | September 07, 1984
Two-Head Fred and Tree-Foot Frieda
Frogchild on the Day of Christus Corpi explores seventy-five years of Caribbean history as seen through the eyes of an old physician recalling the central mystery that spans the generations of his family-the birth of a frogchild to the nun Magdalena. This imaginative tale is embellished by the voices of the octogenarian doctor’s grandparents and parents, Zoe the family maid, the fanatic Mother Superior Maurina, and Magdalena herself, who commits suicide as soon as she sees the child’s grotesque features. Time shifts fluidly as each narrator layers facts and reveals involvement in the creation of the myth of Magdalena’s misfortune, and her ultimate canonization as the Black Virgin, patron saint of the Maraval Swamp. In the following excerpt, the author introduces us to his blend of fantasy and reality through an encounter between a fisherman, the physician’s grandson, and Zoe, the family maid.
I loved Zoe because she helped raise me, because she let me pinch her breasts when my mother wasn’t around, and because she told me she ate Barbados rat for whooping cough. I loved Jook Jook because he helped raise me, because he let me sip from his rum bottle when my father wasn’t around, and because he told me he ate Whatlin’s Island iguana for grimps. I’d never been to Barbados, never been to Watlin’s Island, never seen an iguana, but I’d seen enough of rats to prepare myself for sudden death should I ever get whooping cough or grimps.
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