The Bahamian Storyteller

*This is a character study I wrote for my writing group. Each of us introduced a character and then we each wrote a story using as many of other people’s characters as we could. Stay tuned for the 2-part story I wrote- Three Hour Tour.

She weaved her way through the vendors on the street with an effortless grace that belied her size. Her full softly swaying hips showed off her orange and blue floral cotton dress as she moved purposefully to The Straw Market to begin her day selling the woven baskets her family made. The cruise ships had docked and were ready to let their passengers loose on the streets of Nassau.

Daisha (dah-EE-sha) felt the sun warm her mahogany skin, though her straw hat shaded her eyes against the sun’s glare. Some days she felt every inch of what her name meant- a woman of influence. Other days she wondered if she influenced anyone. She looked forward to the Bahamas Heritage Festival next week. She had been a sought-after storyteller for this event for the past 5 years. Her soft, expressive voice lent itself to the African stories she told. She grew up hearing these tales from her grandmother. Her grandmama was a storyteller in the griot tradition of West Africa in that she knew everything that was going on around her. She told news and gossip alike in story-form. She kept the traditional tales alive and passed on that knowledge to Daisha. Now it was Daisha’s turn to be the keeper and teller of the story.

Daisha’s goal was to go to America and beyond to tell her stories. She longed to meet the people she only heard about in the books, shows, and news on TV. She talked with the cruise ship tourists when they stopped at her stall. She felt this was only a small portion of the lives they lived just as the market stall was only a tiny portion of hers. At day’s end, Daisha walks to her home in the “Fish Fry” area on West Bay St, a mere 20-minute stroll along the beachfront and shack-type restaurants selling local seafood and cuisine. She stops to pick up some conch chowder from her cousin’s eatery to bring home to her elderly aunt and uncle. She was raised by these lovely people after her parents died in a fishing boat accident when Daisha was only 3 years old. After her grandmother passed away last year, these two and her cousins were her only family. They all contributed to the straw basket-making when her cousins weren’t running their restaurant.

Nassau was her home since she was born 28 years ago to Afro-Bahamian parents. Her family attended a local Methodist church where she sang in the choir. Her uncle was a deacon, and her aunt helped in the Women’s Study Group on Thursday evenings. Though Daisha loved her church family, she clung to some of the African traditional beliefs her grandmother taught her and held in her heart. She believed there was a spirit in all things and people were inherently good though sometimes became confused when away from their family, community, and ancestral lands. Nassau was far from Africa as the seagull flies but close in spirit when she thought of her dear grandmother.

Many men had sought Daisha’s hand and heart, but she wanted more than what they offered. She felt she had a broader purpose and to stay here and continue her small life was not something she desired. She dated a few men from time to time but kept her heart intact. They were good company when there was a festival, like Junkanoo to attend or a lecture at the library but at the end of their time together, a chaste kiss or an offer of her famous dessert- guava duff- was all they received. They accepted this graciously and thanked her for her company.

“One day there will be a place for me on the world stage,” she often said to herself. In the meantime, there were baskets to sell, storytelling skills to hone and her family to love and care for.

~Image- Nassau, Bahamas Straw Market- Catherine Denton

When she was young, Catherine Denton crafted plays she and her siblings performed for her parents. To learn more about her story, check out Metaphysical Girl, available for Pre-Order for $7.99 until the publication date of December 26th, 2021. You will be able to find this book at your favorite online book stores and mobile apps where e-books are sold, such as SmashwordsAppleBarnes & NobleKobo

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