The Preacher from afar. A short story, adopted from the book: The ORIGINAL JAMAICAN Patois: Words, Phrases and Short Stories’

Clarendon, Manchester and Saint Elizabeth are three neighboring parishes that stretched from near the middle of Jamaica toward the west of the island. During the late fifties and up to the early seventies at least four large Bauxite and Alumina companies built factories in those parishes and processed the bauxite ore and alumina silt for export. Work was plentiful, and men from all over the island flocked to the vicinities in search of employment, to trade, and some even to gamble. Most of those who got employed managed to find temporary housing in the areas and travelled back to their homes elsewhere on weekends.

One man from Saint Thomas had a physical impediment (fin hand). His friends called him Finny. He went from site to site, but no one would hire him. From time to time, some workers gave him money, but he never had enough to eat, pay for his lodging and to travel back to his home, so for weeks he was stuck in Saint Elizabeth.

One particular weekend he found himself flat broke, as all his friends had gone home to be with their families. What made it worse was that the following Monday would be a holiday and no one he knew would be returning before Tuesday morning. That Friday, Finny could not even pay for his lodging and had to sleep on the pavement at a shop piazza with some drunkards. It was a long night for a sober man.

Early that Saturday morning he went and washed himself in the nearby river, and put on his best clothes that he carried with him in a small carton box. He then entered the home of one of the locals and told them that he was a travelling preacher who got robbed the night before. The residents felt sorry for him and fed him breakfast. While he was eating he was thinking about his next move. When he was full he asked to borrow a bible and a folding table. His request was granted. He prayed with the family and left.

He walked about a mile to the town square, and set up his table in front of the market house.

As quick as he set the table up, he opened the bible and set it on it; he then put his hat upside down under it. One by one, people stepped up and put money into the hat.

Before mid-day the hat was full of money and Finny had to empty it into a carton box he carried around with him. People started to gather around and he started to preach. Every time he raised his voice to a crescent the crowd shouted, ‘Ha-le lu-yah!’. This continued for hours and Finny barely had time to empty the hat, only to have it filled again.

He was about to bring his preaching to a close when he saw a familiar face in the crowd. It was one of the gamblers from Kingston. Finny himself had gambled with him more than once. He thought to himself that he must have been down on his luck why he hadn’t gone home. Knowing that the gambler knew that he was not a preacher, he once again got the crowd into a frenzy. Just about everyone was saying Ha-le-lu-yah. Then at the top of his voice Finny said,

Man from afar, who see mi an know mi. Houl yo peace and I will see thee later.”

“Man from afar, who sees me and knows who I am. Hold thy peace, and I will see thee later.”

Only the gambler knew what he meant. As he repeated it several times,the crowd thought that he was in the spirit.

The Ha-le-lu-yahs got even louder, and there were calls for ‘MORE, MORE’.  It was difficult for Finny to leave. He beckoned to the gambler to pick up the table and his bible while he clutched the carton box and shuffled through the crowd.

The two became a team, and every week they travelled to a different site. From then on Finny was able to go home during the week and be present to preach every Saturday at market sites in one parish or the other.

Note: Stick with what works.

About the Author
Laxleyval Sagasta is a freelance mixed genre writer from Jamaica. His books are on sale at leading booksellers; online and in stores. Like him on fb. Laxleyval Sagasta or Laxleyval LLC. Visit his page SAGASTABOOKS.COM. Join his book club and receive free books. Contact by Email [email protected]