Punchinella: The Jamaican Cinderella Story

Punchinella never got along with her two stepsisters – Precious and Peaches. She had an evil stepmother who was married to her first uncle before she married her dad.

Poor little Punchinella. Day and night on her knees scrubbing the floor with Geenie floor polish. Her step sisters did not have chores around the house. They would get up each day and put on fancy clothes and idle on the streets.

One day when Punchinella was cleaning out the cellar and an old woman approached her and asked, “Is yuh name Punchinella? Maas Pappi one duaghta? Laawd have mercy mi chile, how yuh clothes dem dutty soh and di piece a tie head pan yuh head black like tar?!”

PUNCHINELLA: Is who you modda? A fter mi neva si yuh ’roun dis district before.

OLD LADY:Yuh evil step modda know mi well dowe …she come to mi every Sunday morning. Mi is di obeah ooman weh live up di street side a di grave yaad. Yuh can jus call mi Godmodda.

PUNCHINELLA: Obeah ooman?! Is obeah mi step modda set pon mi mek mi tan soh Godmodda?”

OLD LADY: No mi dear chile, is not yuh she a wok obeah pan  – a yuh daddy. But yuh neva hear dat from mi. Yuh know if yuh waan mi can wok some good obeah fi yuh, jus tell Godmodda what yuh want.

PUNCHINELLA: Well, tonight a Boxing Nite and mi waan goh a STING dance and mi noh have no clothes and no transportation But mi cyaan goh cause mi stepmoda seh mi nuffi lef di yaad.

OLD LADY: Pickney chile your wish is fimi command. Yuh can go a STING if yuh waan, but unda one condition!

PUNCHINELLA: YES! Dats is what I am talking bout! Unda what candition Godmodda?

OLD LADY:Yuh mus reach back a yuh yaad before 12 midnight because di car whey mi have fi yuh, di engine noh start paas 12’oclock. Plus yuh clothes ago turn back to dem piece a claat yuh a wear now. Soh mi a warn yuh –  lef di place before di strike of midnight!

PUNCHINELLA: 12 o’clock?!! Is mite as well mi noh badda goh cause a dat time dance start fi lick an di man dem start pour in like ants!

OLD LADY: Den yuh noh can galang tan a yuh yaad den …afta mi noh caah!

PUNCHINELLA: Ah-right modda. Mi wi goh den. Weh di car deh? And what mi ago wear to di show? Mi noh waan mi sista dem fi recognize mi, do!

The Godmother chants in a religious tongue and POOF! Punchinella was dawned in a batty-rida shorts, a silver sequence bra top with some silver pumps to match. Her hair style was about 3 feet high with spurts of colored hair sprinkles. Outside was a shocking red Island Cruiser with gold plated rims an a spoiler that look like wings of an airplane.

PUNCHINELLA: Kiss mi toe tail!! GodModda mi a go mad di matie dem tonite!! All mi outfit a tek life noh rahtid!! But have mercy, di shorts out fi cut off mi circulation…a mek it soh tite?

OLD LADY: Punchinella hurry up an gwaan bout yuh business an tap ask question. An mikase cause if yuh noh come back before midnight , di car naah goh start. Cyan seh mi neva warn yuh.

Punchinella kissed her the God mother and off she  went …VRRROOOMMMM!!!

She arrived at the dance and all eyes wandered in her direction. Punchinella kept walking. Soon the music got louder as she approached the stage. She could see her stepsisters drinking and smoking in the far corner with and looking on. They did not recognize her. As she got closer, she felt a stranger’s eyes watching her every move. She felt uncomfortable. Then the stranger approached her. He looked her in the eyes and held her close and said the sweetest thing any man has ever said to her:

DREADY: Greetings daughta, I and I is King Dready and an yuh a di  Queen mi a look fah fi come live up ina I Kingdom. Soh weh di daughta a seh bout dat?

PUNCHINELLA: Me? Yuh waan me to be your Queen? Yuh own a Kingdom? Which part?

DREADY: How yuh mean? Mi ress up ina di hills a St.Ann. My Kingdom is as close to nature like I close to you  now sistren. Strictly naturality I man deal wid. No roof top, no tielet, no walls fi kip I an I in bondage, ya’noh seet!

PUNCHINELLA: Dready, mi noh tink dat soun like any weh mi woulda waan live but anyway, come wi jus dance wid wi one aneda an chat bout yuh Kingdom layta ..cool?

DREADY: Yah man, dat cool.

And so they danced all night to the dance hall tunes as the artist performed one by one. The stage show MC announced: “Well crowd a people is 12 midnight and di band a go tek an intermission yah now, soh hole tite ‘til di next segment, zeen.”

PUNCHINELLA: Kiss mi rahtid! Is 12midnight arredi!?! Dready mi haffi goh. Laawd Jesas, di car naah go start yah now.

She rushes out of the dance quickly with Dready in pursuit…

DREADY: Hole on dey princess, a how yuh a rush fi leave di I lonely and destitute soh? Wait deh man! Weh yuh a goh?! (kiss teet). A how some ooman soh flighty-flighty sah? Chaaaa!

As she ran out of the dance, the heel of Punchinella’s shoes fell of on the pavement. Punchinella ran as fast as she could with one good shoe until she got to the car. She turned the keys in the ignition and got no response from the engine.

PUNCHINELLA: (holding her head) Lawd Jesas is what kina crassis dis pan mi tonite! Do cyar…start fi mi …beg yuh do!

She made another attempt. Still nothing. She gave in after the third attempt. She decided to walk home. Poor Punchinella walked for miles. Then she began to run until she was finally home just as her dancehall outfit turned back to rags. That evening as Dready left the show, he noticed the shiny silver shoe heel Punchinella left behind. He was sure that was his Queen’s shoe heel as he recognized it from earlier.

DREADY: Yes faada! Jah Bless! Is dah boot heel yah ago mek mi fine back mi Queen, fi real.

The next day, Dready walked from house to house trying to find the woman who owns a silver pumps missing a heel. Soon he came across this big house and knocked on the front gate. He called out :

DREADY: Anybody dey a yaad? Hole di daag!! Rasta noh trus noh mongrel, ya’ noh seeit!

When he was let in, the stepsisters claimed they had worn pumps that night and that their shoes had missing heels. But when Dready asked them to bring out the evidence, the shoes they brought were gold slippers and proved not to match the silver heel.

DREADY: Nobody else doan live on yah?

PEACHES: No. Is ongly wi stepsista and shi too ugly fi goh a dance soh mi know a cyaan fi har boot heel dat.

DREADY: Bring har out here mek I ask har if she recognize dis boot heel yah.

They called for Punchinella and when she appeared, she was astonished to see the Dread standing on the verandah steps.

PUNCHINELLA: What yuh want sar?

DREADY: Mi jus a try fi fine a ting dat bruck off har boot heel a di Sting show last night. Yuh own a silva boot?

PUNCHINELLA: Yes mi have one trow unda mi bed ina di house.

PRECIOUS: Yuh too dyam lie!  Is where yuh get get silva pumps from? Fi yuh capital-W foot cyaan fit ina shoes much less.

PUNCHINELLA: Yuh noh worry bout dat . Excuse mi sar, mek mi goh fi di boot show yuh.

She came back showing her pumps that was clearly missing the heel.

DREADY: My Queen! Is yuh di teif mi heart last night like when Clifton did teif mi pound a weed last week?! Come yah mi lovely black princess mek a squeeze yuh tite!

PRECIOUS: But is what going on in here? Yuh did dey a Sting last night wid Dready?!

DREADY: Hey you big lip gal, jus mine how yuh a talk to my Queen yuh noh. I an I screw pon di loud talking ina my Queen ears ole, zeen. Punchinella pack up yuh tings and come wi lef outa babylon!

PUNCHINELLA: Afta mi noh have nutten fi pack up. Mi ready like Freddy Dready.

DREADY: Soh yuh mean yuh not even have couple draws an one nighty fi pack?

PUNCHINELLA: No…nat a ting Dready!

DREADY: Airight come wi leave out. If  yuh stepsista Precious knee dem neva soh knock mi woulda carry har  wid mi to, but Jah know seh di knee dem mek up too much  rahtid nize when she walk.

Off they went as King and Queen on Dready’s Honda 50 bike. The two was soon lost in the cloud of smoke trailing behind the bike. That was the last the community and her family saw of Punchinella.

© Joelle “Wendy” Wright


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