The Mystic Masseur
Fernando market.’
    Leela cried. ‘You see the sort of thing Beharry putting in your head. The man is my father.’ And she cried again.
    But Ganesh still went to Beharry’s.
    When Beharry heard that Ganesh was going to set himself up as a masseur he nibbled anxiously and shook his head. ‘Man, you choose a hard hard thing. These days nearly everybody you bouncing up is either massager or dentist. One of my own cousin – really Suruj Mooma cousin, but Suruj Mooma family is like my own family – a really nice boy he is, he too starting in this thing.’
    ‘As another massager?’
    ‘Wait, you go hear. Last Christmas Suruj Mooma take up the children by their grandmooma and this boy just come up to she cool cool and say he taking up dentistry. You could imagine how Suruj Mooma was surprise. And the next thing we hear is that he borrow money to buy one of them dentist machine thing and he start pulling out people teeth, just like that. The boy killing people left and right, and still people going. Trinidad people is like that.’
    ‘It ain’t people teeth I want to pull out. But the boy doing all right, eh?’
    ‘For the time, yes. He done pay back for the machine. But Tunapuna is a busy place, remember. Eh, I see the time coming when quack go find it hard getting two cent to buy a bread and some cheap red butter.’
    Suruj Mooma came in hot and dusty from the yard with a cocoye broom. ‘I was coming with a good good mind to sweep out the shop – eh! – and look at the first thing I hearing. Why for you must call the boy quack? It ain’t as if he not trying.’ She looked at Ganesh. ‘You know what wrong with Suruj Poopa? He just jealous the boy. He can’t even cut toenail, and a little boy pulling out big people teeth. Is just jealous he jealous the boy.’
    Ganesh said, ‘You have something there, maharajin . Is like me and my massaging. I ain’t just rushing into it like that, you know. I learn and stop and study a lot about it, from my own father. It ain’t quack work.’
    Beharry, on the defensive, nibbled. ‘Wasn’t that I did mean at all. I was just telling the pundit here that if he set hisself up as a massager in Fuente Grove he go have it hard.’

    It didn’t take Ganesh long to find out that Beharry was right. There were too many masseurs in Trinidad, and it was useless to advertise. Leela told her friends, The Great Belcher told hers, Beharry promised to write to all the people he knew; but few cared to bring their ailments to a place as far away as Fuente Grove. The villagers themselves were very healthy.
    ‘Man,’ Leela said. ‘I don’t think you really make for massage.’
    And the time came when he himself began to doubt his own powers. He could cure a nara , a simple stomach dislocation, as well as any masseur, and he could cure stiff joints. But he could never bring himself to risk bigger operations.
    One day a young girl with a twisted arm came to see him. She looked happy enough but her mother was weeping and miserable. ‘We try everybody and everything, pundit. Nothing happen. And every day the girl getting older, but who go want to married she?’
    She was a pretty girl, too, with lively eyes in an impassive face. She looked only at her mother, not once at Ganesh.
    ‘Twenty time people break over the girl hand, if they break it over one time,’ the mother continued. ‘But still the hand can’t set.’
    He knew what his father would have done. He would have made the girl lie down, he would have placed his foot on her elbow, levered the arm upwards till it broke, then set it again. But all Ganesh said, after examining the hand, was, ‘It have nothing wrong with the girl, maharajin . She only have a little bad blood, that is all. And too besides, God make she that way and is not for me to interfere in God work.’
    The girl’s mother stopped sobbing and pulled her pink veil over her head. ‘Is my fate,’ she said, without sadness.
    The girl never spoke a word.

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