Tamarind Tree with Fruits
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The day is finally here. Today is the day I send my debut novel out into the world. It has been a long journey: four years in its conception and another five years in failing to find it a home. During the years of rejection from the guardians of the publishing world, I held onto the hope that Under the Tamarind Tree would enter the world when its time had come. Guyana, the setting for the novel, is now facing a constitutional crisis. In my adopted homeland, divisive racist politics is becoming the norm. Across our planet, gang violence and never-ending wars are driving families from their ancestral homes.
At the heart of Under the Tamarind Tree is the loss and pain that violence brings into our lives. In the United States, mass shootings by lone gunmen are devastating our communities, with little to no response from our law makers. The life of the protagonist, Richard Cheong, is changed forever when his younger brother, then eight years old, was shot to death under a tamarind tree. For Richard, the tamarind tree—a vengeful judge—becomes the personification of his guilt for not keeping his younger brother safe. His inconsolable mother’s death, shortly thereafter, had compounded his guilt. Her spirit haunted him.
Sometimes, she called out his name in the quiet of the night while he stretched out in his Berbice-chair listening to music. She often visited him in his dreams, drenched and shivering. Her chocolate-brown hair, caked with mud, draped down her back to her waist. She drowned him in her grief. (Prologue 1) Continue reading