A young girl is torn between leaving Jamaica to migrate to Canada. She asks the question "Why do I have to go?".
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She Did Not Want To Go

The clouds looked like cotton balls. Big fluffy cotton balls that she could run through and throw up in the air if she could go out there. Suddenly she had an urge to unbuckle her seatbelt, stroll down the aisle as if going to the bathroom or to stretch her legs, then, when she got to an emergency exit, grab those two handles, turn the door sideways, throw it out and throw herself after. Then she could just stay in the clouds, instead of going to her father in Canada. She knew she couldn’t go back to her grandmother in Jamaica. Her grandmother didn’t want her to come back. She wasn’t sure why, because she knew that she loved her. Her grandmother had cried all day and night before she left. And at the airport, Grandma couldn’t even look her in the eye. But she had also spent all day and night telling her how glad she was that her baby was getting out of Jamaica, and how she had to go to Canada and make something of herself. She knew that she couldn’t go back until she was all grown-up because Grandma would be so disappointed.

But she hadn’t wanted to leave. She didn’t want to leave Grandma and Auntie Eunice and Robert and Sheri who lived right next to the school. She didn’t want to leave Miss Thomas who had such a pretty smile and was always so nice to her. She didn’t want to leave her cat, Bluesmoke, who had just given birth to some very cute kittens. And she had to leave all of that to go where? To live with a man that she knew only from his pictures and phone calls, in a land where it was cold and dark six months out of the year, or at least that’s what he said. All he did was complain about it, about the weather that depressed him, the people who were so reluctant to hire him once they heard his accent, the little apartment he lived in with only concrete and other buildings visible from its windows.

But he had finally found a job that he enjoyed where he was regularly getting promoted. Now he felt he was ready to bring his daughter up and raise her with him. So she was packed up with the few belongings that she had. They had gone to Kingston to get all her paperwork done and now here she was, on the plane. She tried to look at the woman sitting next to her out of the corner of her eye. She was sleeping now, and even in her sleep, she looked classy and poised. Before the plane had taken off, she had been on her cell phone, laughing her tinkly laugh and talking in her accent that was almost British in its properness. The woman was beautiful, her hair was simple yet perfect, as was her makeup. The jewelry on her arms, her ears and around her neck, not that she was an expert, looked very real and very expensive. Her clothes were stunning and her bag bore a name she had heard about in songs. Listening to her conversation, it had been obvious that she lived in Jamaica, but was going to Canada for business, as well as to visit some friends while she was there.

Why couldn’t she be like this woman? Why couldn’t she stay in Jamaica and make something of herself right there at home? But she already knew the answer. She didn’t have to ask the woman to know that the house that she, Grandma and Auntie Eunice lived in could probably fit in this woman’s bedroom. In Jamaica, it was much easier to live a life of privilege if you were born into that life. So she would dutifully go off to Canada as everyone wanted.

She snuck another peek at the beautiful woman. OK, if she could not go back to Jamaica until she was all grown up, then she would make sure that she would look just like this woman when she returned. She would be beautiful, she would be perfectly put together, she would have a new accent, a fancy Canadian accent, and she would flit around with her tinkly laugh and her cell phone. Grandma would be bursting with pride and Auntie Eunice would give her the big hug and squeeze like she did whenever she did something Auntie was proud of. Robert would fall madly in love with her and Sheri would be so envious. Maybe she would put one of Bluesmoke’s grandkittens in her name brand bag and carry it around with her.

Yes, that’s what she would do. She settled back into her seat and closed her eyes. She would be able to handle living in this brand new world as long as she had a goal in mind, and knew that she could some day return. She opened her eyes for a brief second and peaked out the window. That’s what she would do. But those clouds sure did look inviting.

About the author

Nanette Stewart