“My First Sin” is a feel-good adventure story, which takes place in a village on the Caribbean Island. It is a sequel to “Crying Mountain” the acclaimed story about a young girl named Tilou and her journey through a hurricane that devastated her village. In “My First Sin” the reader is uplifted by Tilou’s spirit and strength as she goes on her search for her “first sin” so she can have something to confess before receiving her First Communion. We are amazed and inspired by Tilou’s tenacity and sense of humor as she takes us on her odyssey of discovery.
Barnes & Noble.com
I’m having a dream and in my dream I am desperately searching for my little cousin, six year-old Tibou. I am calling his name out loud in a very large and dark forest. My good friend Moun, the dog, is at my side helping me find him. He’s snooping around the bushes, sometimes creeping through the underbrush like a dedicated soldier. Occasionally an old bone or an animal carcass distracts him but, nevertheless, he stays right by my side.
“Tibou, Tibou, Tibou, Tibou, kote ou ye (where are you)?” I call.
“Tilou, Tilou, Tilou, Tilou, mwen la (I am here),” says a voice I can barely hear.
At least, that’s what I think I hear, or maybe that’s what I want to hear. I stop and listen carefully. My voice is resonating throughout the very large forest, each word rebounding from the trees to the mountaintops, and down into the savannah.
I must wait until after the echo stops before saying another word. The long echo is interfering with the sound of my voice. In a way, it feels good listening to the projection of my words. It seems almost like a game. It reminds me of times when I was playing with a friend and, after I’d say something, they would mimic what was said, just to tease.
Could the mountain and the forest be playing with me? Could it be that my little cousin is also teasing me? I hope so. As we proceed towards the coffee grove, Moun becomes uneasy and turns to go back up the hill.
“Hey Moun! Where are you going? ” I ask. He comes back reluctantly. He must be sensing something. Gran told us little kids not to venture around this particular coffee grove at night because of the many lougawous (werewolves) and vampires hiding in it. But in spite of my fears, I don’t want to leave until I find my little cousin. As I continue to dream, my need to find Tibou overcomes the scary feelings I’m getting from the dark trees.
Moun is barking in intervals and he too seems obsessed with his voice echoing through the forest. It makes him bark even more. Each time he barks, he sits, listens, and barks again. Then he whimpers until the sound of his barking returns. When the echo dissipates, he barks the way he normally does. Moun is the funniest animal and the best friend I have ever known.
In spite of this slight distraction, Moun knows very well why we are in the forest. He knows we are looking for Tibou so he too doesn’t stop his search. He continues to sniff around, looking everywhere for my young cousin. Moun walks inside a small dark area surrounded by dry branches where he finds something that he drags out and shows to me. It is a piece of clothing which looks like Tibou’s old shirt. At that point my heart begins to palpitate.
I slip beneath the branches with much fear, but I realize that I must prepare myself for anything. I look beneath the leaves of a scrub oak and suddenly I am face-to-face with a huge rattlesnake and her babies. The snake’s head alone seems bigger than Moun’s. She buzzes to warn off intruders. I have never seen anything like this before. I take off running and so does Moun who has always been a big chicken at heart. He’s always the first to run whenever he’s frightened.
“Aren’t you supposed to protect me?” I say to Moun after we’re a safe distance away from mama snake. He looks at me as if to say, “Not today, child.”
It’s even darker now, but I refuse to stop the search. We continue looking and I decide to walk down to the savannah to see what’s up. I knock on every single door hoping to find Tibou, but with no luck. Then I arrive at Ton Nele’s house. He’s one of the fishermen who lives down on the savannah.
“Is he the short little kid with a large gap in his mouth?”
“Yes,” I respond, waiting patiently for an answer.
Scratching his head he replies, “Oh yeah! He’s losing his baby teeth. I still remember my first baby tooth, and my second, and my third. They all disappeared and then reappeared for a while. But today, I look inside my mouth and realize that they’re all gone now. Do you know where they might have gone?”
“I’m sure they’ll be back someday,” I say with a smile.
“Good, because I’m tired of eating foufou (mashed plantain). I used to crack open the toughest nuts not to mention hard cow bones, you know,” he laughs aloud.
I am standing there waiting in anticipation. I hope he’ll eventually tell me where my little cousin is.
Ton Nele stops for awhile.
“Let me think. I’m losing my memory, you know. I’m getting old and my mind is not as sharp as it used to be. What were we talking about?”
“My cousin, Tibou,” I calmly say.
“Ah! My cousin Bobo. He’s in heaven now. Child, he wakes up one day, eats his foufou and says ‘goodbye’. I think he lived way too long, anyway. One hundred and eight is way too much for anyone. I bet he’s watching us from Heaven right now. Between you and me, he was a lougawou (werewolf). But don’t tell anyone I told you,” he says.
Realizing that I am getting nowhere with Ton Nele, I say “thank you” and walk away.
Our search continues. We search everywhere for Tibou. I look under four large mango trees then I notice that the day is getting darker. I am afraid that I may have to call off the search. I turn around to leave and suddenly I am face-to-face with a tall figure. I look closer, and the figure seems to be wearing a long, black coat. A very long, black, laced, hooded hat covers its entire face. The figure has a black glove in its hand and it stands right there looking at me. I am petrified.
“Oh my God! For the first time in my life, I am face to face with a vampire,” I think.
I look beside me and notice that Moun is doing number one on the side of a banana tree that really deserves to be watered because of the drought.
“Hurry Moun, I need you now,” I say to myself.
The dog must have heard my thoughts. Moun soon notices the strange looking figure and starts to bark out of his mind. The creature springs at me. Moun is there in time to attack its leg. I take off running and the tall figure, after disengaging itself from Moun, starts chasing after me. Of course Moun goes after it immediately.
It kicks Moun in the head and Moun yaps a little but continues his attack. However, the strange creature shows too much resilience. It chases after me so I run into the dark forest as fast as I can.
In my haste to evade this scary monster, I trip and fall hard onto the ground. The vampire closes the gap. A hand grabs me but Moun pounces and clamps his jaws around one of its feet, ending up with one shoe in his mouth.
The tall figure runs away leaving the shoe behind. I watch Moun settle down with the shoe, chewing happily. I think to myself, “I didn’t know vampires wear shoes.”
I feel as though I’ve seen those shoes before, but I can’t remember where. I run up the hill to Gran’s house and see Bojo, a man who lives down on the savannah below our house. He is holding Tibou’s limp body in his arms. My heart starts beating fast.
Nearby there is a man hiding under the lemon tree, holding a second shoe. I look at him under the bright moonlight and recognize the same clothes worn by the creature from the forest.
“Oh my God!” I whisper.
I think I recognize him. He looks directly at me and places his index finger over his mouth as if to tell me to be silent. Then he slips away.