Gingerbeer With A Difference

Guyana Stories by Peter Halder

Gingerbeer With A Difference

by Peter Halder

Fr Jeremiah Holyoak of the Church at Hunter Street and Punt Trench Dam, Albouystown,  made it his duty during the Christmas Season to visit his parishioners on Boxing Day.

He finished house calls on La Penitence Street and moved on to Bel Air Street. Between James Street and Sussex Street, he came to a cottage in which lived a single mother Rachel Adams and her son Timothy. The pair attended his Church Services every Sunday morning. They were there on Christmas morning.

Fr Jeremiah rapped on the light blue wooden door.

Timothy opened the door and smiled.

“Good morning Father, how are you today?” he said.

“I’m fine thank you Timothy. I am here on my usual Christmas visit to members of my congregation. Is your mother at home?” replied Fr Jeremiah.   

“No Father she is not. She’s gone to visit her sick Uncle in Ruimveldt but since it is so hot outside, you can come in and I’ll fix you a glass of gingerbeer which is a  special treat for the Season,” said Timothy.

“God bless you Timothy. I would be happy to spend a few moments out of this hot sun and to enjoy some Christmas gingerbeer. Thank you very much young man,” retorted the Father.

Fr Jeremiah entered the home and took a relaxing seat in a Berbice Chair, wiping perspiration with a white handkershief from his forehead and face.

Timothy went into the kitchen and took a large blue enamel cup from a shelf. He rinsed it at the sink. He took two pieces of ice from parcel wrapped in newspaper, rinsed it and put it in the cup. He went to an earthenware container, about two feet high, and using a ladle, dipped out gingerbeer from the container and put it in the  cup with the ice. He placed the filled cup on a small cream enamel saucer and took it to the Father.

Fr Jeremiah used his index finger to swirl the pieces of ice in the cup to add some cold to the already cool gingerbeer. He then put the cup to his lips and drank it all, slowly, savouring it as he did so. He loved it and asked for more. Timothy obliged.

Rested, refreshed and feeling energized once more, he got up, thanked Timothy and headed for the door.

Outside the door, he asked Timothy whether his mother would be upset over the giving of the gingerbeer.

Timothy replied with a smile, “Not in the least Father, not in the least. You see it’s been there for over a week and we don’t drink it anymore. Two days ago, somehow or the other, a rat got in the container and was drowned in the gingerbeer. We discovered it the next day. But not to worry Father, I put my hand into the gingerbeer, took out the bloated dead rat and threw it away through the jalousie.”


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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On August 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm


  • Dmitri Allicock  On August 23, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Ouch! They old saying in Guyana comes to mind, “what don’t kill, does fatten” the body is highly resilient but Hepatitis “A” has been and is common place in Guyana and it makes you wonder how exposed we really were. I relished a cold cup of Mauby and coconut bun but never wanted to look behind the counter too much.

    • Peter Halder  On August 24, 2013 at 11:21 am


  • Ron Persaud  On August 24, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Aww! Come on! Every self respecting (and old!) Guyanese must know the original version of this tale.

  • Richard  On August 25, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    In this day and age tales like those are not really that funny.

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