I will never forget my semester of school. The first week of school was hard. The class work was not difficult, but adjusting to the new schedule was hard.
I had changed my work schedule to have a late workday on Tuesday and a day off on Thursday. I was taking 2 classes 3-credit course: English and Art Appreciation. They were pre-requisites.
I also had to take my sister to school Monday through Thursday. We agreed that on the days I could not take her to or from school she would take the bus home. She hated taking the bus. Within a week she made “friends” with a Jamaican guy name, Trevor, who had a car. He took her home most of the time.
My sister was very manipulative. I was sure she was leading this guy on. I would come home and hear him in her room. He would call the house daily to talk with her. I would hear her flirting with him on one line and then putting him on hold to talk to her boyfriend in Jamaica
Things did not get better between us. We tried to stay out of each other’s way. We were sociable but the relationship we once had was gone. On our weekly call with our parents we gave the impression that we were getting along. I don’t think anyone at school knew we were related.
There was a Jamaican hang out on campus. It was in the back of the cafeteria. Here all the Jamaicans hung out before class, after class, between class and even on their day off from class. There were a variety of discussions and activities that took place there. If you wanted to “people” watch (guys watching girls) you could. If you wanted to discuss Jamaican politics there was a group always at each other’s throats. There was a group that always talked about the latest parties and music. I hung out with everyone. I loved hanging out at school. I soon found out that there were a few Jamaicans there who were not students and visited the “hang out” to kill time.
I became the resident Jamaican music expert there. No one had more knowledge of Jamaican music. I was especially knowledgeable at in dancehall music and the Jamaican sound systems. Everyone wanted copies of the dancehall tapes I had.
My first class was an English class. I hated English, but loved Math. The class was easy as most of the curriculum I covered at high school in Jamaica. The teacher was very boring.
The one thing that kept me interested in the class was this beautiful Trinidadian girl who sat in the front. Her name was Angela De Gannes. She had long flowing black hair and a coca cola ”bokkle” shape. She dressed in the most modest, but sexiest outfits; long skirts that tightly fit her hips, jeans that show just enough of her curves, mini skirts that showed just enough of her flawless legs.
She was East Indian and had a small earring in her nose. She was gorgeous. I would sit and daydream about her in the class. I am sure she knew she had an admirer, as she caught me staring a few times. She stared back. There was some magnetism between us. I liked Mary-Ann but this feeling was too strong. Something I had never felt before.
I knew this “magnetism” would go nowhere. She had a boyfriend. He would be wait for her after class every day. He would greet her with a kiss in front of the classroom door. I think he did this as a form of ownership, so everyone in the class would see.
The first few classes I never got an opportunity to talk to her alone. Then one day it happened. As I approached the building where the classroom was, I saw everyone standing outside the classroom door. I wondered what was going on. There was a sign on the door. Just as I was about to read it someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was Angela.
“There is an electrical problem in the classroom. They are not allowing anyone inside.” she said.
“What happened” I asked. I was trying my hardest to not show how amazed I was by her beauty. She had the brownest eyes I had ever seen.
“I don’t know” she replied, “There are no lights in the room”.
“Thanks” I replied. I was wondering what to say next.
She then asked if I was from Jamaica and explained that she knew from the accent. I learned that she was an international student from Trinidad and had been attending Broward Community College for almost a year. We talked about school, the class and life in the Caribbean. This was how our first conversation started.
After that day we became friends. She was my incentive to get to school before the class started. We would talk before class when her boyfriend was not around. I hung on every word that came out her mouth. The “electricity” between us was there. I knew it and she knew it too. We dared to look directly at each other but when we did you could feel it something. I remember one awkward conversation where she told me that 12 years girls in Trinidad could marry 14-year-old boys. She explained that arranged marriages was a part of the Muslin and Hindu culture, which was prevalent in Trinidad, because of the many East Indians there. I asked her jokingly if she had a guy her parents wanted her to marry when she returns.
She smiled looking away from me and replied, ”I have never been in love before”
It seem like she was hinting she did not love her boyfriend. So I asked.
“You don’t love your boyfriend”
“No comment”, she replied with a playful sexy smile.
I was now looking for an opportunity to “bruk a man” foot. She did not talk much about her boyfriend. He was born in Jamaica but moved here when he was 6 years old. I never knew he was Jamaican because he dressed more like a “Yankee”.
The friendship kept growing throughout the semester, however I never asked for her phone number. She never asked for mine either. I think we both knew this would go further if we exchanged phone numbers.
Earlier in the semester my father informed my sister and I that our grandmother (his mother-in-law) was very sick. She had cancer. She would progressively get worse during the next few weeks.
We were almost at the end of the semester when he called told my sister to book a flight to Jamaica for the weekend. My grandmother had asked to see all her grandchildren before she dies. I was extremely disappointed, as I could not go. My disappointment soon turned to devastation. Two days after my sister arrived she died. It was one of the worse feelings I had experienced in my life.
I was very close to my grandmother. I was her first grandchild and she treated me differently than any of her other grandchildren. Granny lived in St. Elizabeth. When she came from the country during the summer she would spoil my sisters and I. We would wake up to the best Jamaican breakfast; hominy corn porridge, ackee and saltfish, fried dumpling, fried green plantations and freshly squeezed juice. You name it she would cook it. She would chase the helpers out the kitchen. She loved to cook. She was the best cook in the world.
She would tell me stories about my mother and her siblings. She was always frank and to the point. My grandfather had died before I was born but I knew about him. She told us everything about him. She did not like to hug anyone but her grandchildren. If my father tried to discipline us she would step in. She had a smile that could light up a room. She would read the bible and pray over me every night, even when I became a teenager. I only had fond memories of her. I was going to miss her. I had an empty feeling, as I would never see her again. I never got to say good-bye like everyone else.
Not being able to go to Granny’s funeral was unbearable. What was even worse was talking to my mother. I felt helpless. I could not console her with a hug. I could not physically be there. I did not know what to say. My mother and I were very close. We had a special bond because of something my father did to her.
My father had a few affairs. When I was 7 years old, a lady he was sleeping with called the house and I picked up the phone. She asked me if I knew who she was and then started to explain her relationship with my father. My mother seeing the shock on my face took the phone. An argument ensued and my mother angrily hung the phone. She started to cry and ran to her room.
I will never forget that day, as I did not know what to do. The look on my mothers face would be forever etched in my mind. A few minutes later my mother came out and asked if I was okay. She then hugged me tightly rocking back and forth for the next half-hour.
The next few weeks when I came home from school I would find my mother in her rooming crying. I would hug her and rock her trying to console her. I did not fully understand what was happening but I did not like to see my mother crying. A woman crying is my kryptonite.
As I grew older and understood more I resented my father for hurting my mother. I knew he continued to have affairs, as I would see him driving down Hope Road with young attractive ladies in his car. In fact he picked us up from school with one of his new “secretaries” in a tight mini skirt. I could not do anything. It was just a part of life as many of his lodge friends also had “girlfriends” on the side. It drew me closer to my mother.
I spoke to her the day after my grandmother died. She wanted me to be there. I could hear it in her voice. She cried at the end of each sentence. It was painful hearing her like this and not being able to be there to console her. I felt like I was the only person who could give her any comfort from pain.
I was also feeling guilty. My grandmother was the one who died. I should be mourning her but I was hurting more for my mother. I wanted to go home but I know I could not.
“I want to come home,” I said to my mother.
“You know you cannot” she replied, “everything here will be okay”. She started crying and gave the phone back to my father.
I wondered what would happened if any of my sister or parents died. Would I go home to the funeral?
On the day of the funeral I was numb. It was a Saturday. I had a rare day-off from work so the day “dragged” on. I played some Bob but was not feeling the vibe.
I was picturing all my relatives visiting my grandmother’s house for the funeral. She was to be buried in a plot behind the house next to my grandfather. It was the worse day of my life.
Mary-Ann called that afternoon.
She knew something was wrong.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
“I am worried about final exams in 2 week”, I replied. Lying was just natural. The years of practice since I moved here made it easy. I could lie about anything without blinking.
I wanted to tell her so badly.
I wanted to scream, “My grandmother has died and I can’t go to the funeral.” I wanted to tell someone so badly.
I hate being an illegal alien.
In the first semester I received all A’s.
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