Indeed, it’s been a minute since I last posted. What with all the driving, eating, sleeping and nothing I’ve been doing lately, I’m sure you all can understand. Anyhow, I’ve always considered writing a memoir, because let’s face it, my life is pretty awesome. Ok, maybe not that awesome, but it ain’t half bad and I think my childhood was pretty fun. This post, which is actually the first thing I’ve written, will be an excerpt from it. The memoir will be entitled Country Girl and it will serve to highlight the irony of me growing up in “country” and not actually being a “country girl”. Or something like that. Can’t wait to actually get beyond the Table of Contents. Haha.
I spent a summer holiday at Miss Vi’s house when I was about six or seven years old. Actually, I think I spent two separate holidays there, but the memories are all jumbled together, so let’s just put them into one account. Miss Vi (short for Violet) was Fay’s mother. Fay was one of my favourite boarders. I suppose one summer Fay proposed to my mother that Mel and I come spend a few weeks at her mother’s house in Porus. Though I can’t actually remember, I’m sure I made a great case for the vacation as my summers (and holidays in general) in Mandeville were pretty hum drum. And so my Mother agreed, and even sewed matching nighties for Mel and I. We were beyond excited.
Miss Vi’s house was one of the smaller, more traditional old-time Jamaican country homes. I can’t remember much about the actual structure, but I sure do remember the red veranda that was forbidden territory after it was polished. The yard was huge, open and dusty. There was an enormous guinep tree in the driveway heading toward the house. I once climbed that tree and remained in it for a much longer time than I’d anticipated, simply because a huge stray cow came to sit beneath it. At that age I had already accepted cows to be my mortal enemies because of one encounter I’d had one morning on my way to Kindergarten. That’s another story though. Eventually, after shouting, crying (probably moo-ing as well) and throwing several green guineps at its huge black back, the cow left, probably annoyed or just moving on to its destination. To the right side of the house (directly outside of the bedroom window) there were about 3 graves beneath a grapefruit tree. In the daytime those graves were prime play area, but at night, my extremely active imagination fabricated such an immense fear of the duppies that dwelled within them, that I’m sure I never slept for the entire holiday.
As fun as the front of the yard was, nothing could compare to the back. There were chickens and roosters everywhere. It was at this house that I realized what shady creatures chickens (and birds in general) really are. One day, after a lighthearted game of chase the chicks, the mother chicken apparently thought I was going to kill her babies or something and swiftly proceeded with a traumatizing affair of chase the kid. I was not amused. Since then, I have learned to avoid chickens and all other similar clucking/quacking/squawking birds. In addition to the chickens, there were goats (who were pretty chill) and pigs. Actually, they were more like hogs; those things were huge! As stinky and dirty as they were, I took a liking to the pink and gray-patched swine. Mostly because I was amazed that they ate everything. And at such a great speed. It’s like they were just never satisfied! I was always happy to volunteer to feed them each morning after breakfast. In addition to their huge bucket of leftovers and random stuff, I would stay a bit longer to feed them anything I could find because they would grunt so hungrily and look at me with their tiny piggy eyes. They seemed to especially like the little red, bean-looking things that grew in abundance at the back of the house and I would pick as many as I could, sometimes the entire stalk at a time, and happily watch them chomp it down. It was only after Miss Vi confronted me one afternoon saying “I have a bone to pick with you” that I realized that those red, bean-looking things were actually coffee. I also thought that she actually had a bone that she wanted me to help her “pick”.
The fun at Miss Vi’s house was made even more awesome because of her neighbour’s two children. And by neighbor I mean someone who lived on the same property, just farther back. Let’s say the children were called Raymond and Trina, because in all honesty, I have no idea what their names really were. For a week, Mel and I went to Vacation Bible School with Raymond and Trina. That was my first time experiencing VBS and also my first time at a church of a different denomination: a Sunday church. Those five or six days were some of the best days of my life. I made friends with everyone; all twenty of them. I quickly became recognized as the “brains” of the VBS, which was evident in my ability to quickly and correctly memorize all the memory verses. I was however, not as great when it came on to the games department. I had never before witnessed such agility and acrobatics in the game of “sightings”. This is a game where everybody stands in the middle and two others will throw a ball (made of squished juice boxes, stones, and anything else we felt like stuffing it with) and try to hit those in the middle. To avoid getting hit and being out of the game, we’d have to “sight” the ball. I guess it’s the Jamaican version of Dodgeball. (Wow, that connection never actually occurred to me before!) Now, I was used to my little Prep. School version of the game, where nobody really intended to hurt you and where we just didn’t really take it seriously. But not these kids. This was as serious a sport as “stuck-an-freeze” (tag) or marbles. Fortunately for me, Trina showed me the ropes, because she was like the Serena Williams of sightings, and in a few days I was jumping, splitting and ducking like the best of them. I also learned some new ring games that blew my little mind and changed my childhood forever. Of course, I took this wealth of experience back to school with me and play time was never the same again.