‘Tenement Yard,’ is not included in my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. I have had this dictionary from ‘Wappy kill Fillo’ and so it may very well be in a newer edition. I nonetheless came across a similar word. It is Tenement House—n: an apartment house used as a dwelling...one meeting minimum standards of sanitation, safety & comfort and occupied by poorer families...usually in a city.”
Culture

Living in a Tenement Yard (Part 2)

The Landlord.

Upon seeing the landlord a look of frustration and panic instantaneously changed her countenance. ‘Poor mi, Sweet Jesus Savior Divine bless my soul,’ she mumbles. Quickly, she picks up the coconut bough broom and begin to sweep the already swept yard while intentionally positioning her back to the gate. It is the 15th of the month and Matilda still haven’t come up with the rent money.

A staggering Sir Fredrick ‘One-Two’ Drysdale then enters the premises. He is as drunk as a bat. His face, wrinkled by ageing and lips blistered from years of alcohol consumption. Matilda ignores his presence as he leans his back against the closed gate and straightens the brim of his hat. “Y’u ole wretch y’u! Y’u see mi an’ a preten y’u don’t,” shouted Sir Fredrick at Matilda.

Not knowing what to say, Matilda held her silence and kept sweeping. She is flat broke. As bruck as a church mouse. She has no money, not a nickel or a dime, not a red cent.

Sir Fredrick has inherited the property from his father. Pappy passed away few years ago, but even to this day, he is frequently remembered. Everyone loved Pappy; he was an easygoing man with a caring heart and unlike his son, he was never a drunkard. Never did he ever quarrel with a tenant for late payment. He was extremely lenient and understanding.

As Drysdale carry on with his vulgarity, Matilda ended her silence with a gospel song, ‘I have a mansion just over the hill top in that bright land that I’ll forever call home and some day yonder I’ll move over that hill top.’

“Well, y’u can move ova deh fram te-deh, noh worry wait till one day yonder,” said Mr. Drysdale in a childish jeering way.

But Matilda didn’t answer, shortly after she changes the tune, ‘In times like these we need the Savior; in times like these we need the Lord.’

“Yeaaaaa, in times like deese mi need mi rent moneeeeeeeey, in times like deese y’u fe pay y’u ren-nnnnnnt,” sang Sir Fredrick in a rather rum drenched low tone harmonious voice. It complimented Misses Matilda’s for it sounded as if both were rehearsing for a musical pantomime …but as ‘One-Two’ continued, Matilda cease her singing, she couldn’t take it anymore. It was as if he was tormenting her.

“Why you taking the Lord’s God song in vain fah though ye?” she seriously inquired.

“Mi nuh waan hear nuh ‘orse dead and cow fat, ha nuh church mi cum, is the rent money mi deh yah fe collect,” explained Mi-sah Drysdale firmly….” han if a chuch mi deh, well a collection time, so trow y’u tide and and haffring.”

“Why y’u hav to ha behave so bad doe ye? Ha know mi owe y’u but y’u noh hav to a bring dung shame an’ disgrace pon mi,” reasoned Missis Matilda. “Further more, every month-en’ y’u collect rent an’ the blasted house top still a leak when rain fall, the toilet pit full, an’ rat and cock-roach jus lef fe tear me clothes haff ha mi. Ha cyaan pu dung nuttin sake a dem.”

However, Mass Drysdale would have none of her sermon, “When fart a chat, sh-t deh near,” he fired back at her. “Mi nuh waan hear none of that foolishness” and with an outstretch arm demanded the rent money. By this time, the other tenants had gathered.

Embarrassed, Matilda just stood there without saying another word. She wanted him to cool off and knew if she started to sing he would only answer in his usually mocking ways. She did not like that either but preferred that of the two evils.

“My home is in heaven, I have no rent to pay Jesus paid it all for me,’ the words of her new song as she claps her hands and move her body to and fro, acting as if she was on choir-pulpit at Pastor Briscoe Sunday morning service.

“Gezas pay y’u rent nuh, y’u bettah mek sure nex time him issue y’u a blasted receipt,” responded ‘One- Two’ as he leaves the property, “Nex week wen ha come bac, nuh fork out mi rent money gie mi an’ see if mi nuh dash y’u an’ y’u ole ko-roo-ches out tah mi pah dead lef.”

About the author

Kharl Daley