Often times when groups of people are gathered together socializing, interesting things or stories come out. Every person on the face of this earth have either experienced something usual or have heard of unusual happenings. When I was a child growing up in Jamaica my mother and her friend Miss Ruth would sit in the evenings on the veranda and talk about many things. I loved to be around my mom and her friend, although I was warned to be seen and not heard. So I, along with some of my friends who lived next door or across the street would sit around the feet of these women and listened as they chatted to each other. If something was to be said that we should not hear they would drive us away with “oonuh go play”, or they would slyly send us all to the shop giving them time before we got back to have their private chat. I always remember those days, Jamaica was such a nice place to be born and raised, playing dandy shandy and baseball with my friends or hop scotch in the yard, hoola hooping with my friends and eating the mangoes which fell into our yard from Mr.Henry’s mango tree.
On Sunday’s my mother and all the neighbors would chase me all over the neighborhood trying to catch me to wash my hair and then style it with chiney bumps, onnuh memba chiney bump! I remember looking forward to mama’s Sunday traditional rice and peas and chicken, (daddy had a chicken coop in our yard and would butcher the chicken every Sunday) and carrot or sour sop juice would be made and on this day the good china from out of the cabinet along with the pretty drinking glasses, and the good knives and forks would be used , then ice cream and jello or egg custard would be served for dessert. I remember the ice cream man on Sundays where we would buy ice cream cakes and nutty buddy and the peanut man who would pass in the nights with his hot whistling cart shouting peanut, the peanuts were always nice and hot. I remember all the years I spent there, we migrated when I was young but those years living in Jamaica and their memories I will cherish forever.
To this day anytime my ancestors wants me to pay attention to my visions and dreams they will show me the dream in the place we lived in Jamaica before we left. I was born off Maxfied Ave In Kingston, I do not remember the house where I was born but I do remember the area. We moved when I was still wearing nappy/pampers to a place off Delacree Road and I attended Maxfield park Primary school..fun days I tell you, fun days…Our principal was called Mr. something or other, I can never remember his name because all the children called him Bull Dog, not to his face of course, behind his back, and when I look back now he really resembled an English Bull Dog…Bwoy de pickney dem did bad. Jamaica was and still is a place of fun and laughter, not only is our dialect patois colorful and funny, Jamaican people in general are very funny people. In Jamaica nicknames are used often and it was later that I found out that this came with us from Africa. Africans use nick names for almost every thing . For instance in Jamaica if you cook for a living you are called Cookie, if your skin color is very dark then you are Blacka, Blacks, Black bwoy, or Black gal, same if you are brown, Browning, Brown gal or Brown man, if you are Short, then your name is Shortie, or Short man for a woman it is Little or lickle, Tall, then you are Tall man or Tallist..and the wickedest thing about this is that they all answer to their nicknames, if you are a killer, trust me that is your name! If someone believes you resemble a Rat, your name is Ratty, or if you look like a Dog then that is your name..lolol..Sweet Jamaica, I love you so much!. I love to laugh and nobody makes me laugh more than my own Jamaican people.
Listening to My mother and Miss Ruth helped to shape and mold me into the person I am today and taught me a lot. Stories that I heard told between the two of them I have never forgotten. There was a time when Miss Ruth came to our house one evening, she usually would come in the evenings around five o’clock and stayed until nine when she would go to her house, which wasn’t far in fact it was just around the corner on Langard Avenue leading to Waltham Park road, oonuh si how mi memory good, I was about five or six those times. When Miss Ruth arrived my mother was in the kitchen in the back of the house cooking, my mother cooked and baked every day after work. I went around to the kitchen to tell my mother that Miss Ruth was here and she instructed me to tell her friend, that she will soon be there and told me to ask her if she wanted food or some thing to drink, to which Miss Ruth said yes. I do not know why my mother would even bother to ask Miss Ruth those questions when she knew for a fact that when it came to food and drink Miss Ruth did not know the word no.
My father use to laugh when my mom would ask him to ask Miss Ruth if she wanted dinner and say “just share out de food Louise, because you know sey Ruth craven”, to which I would laugh along with my father while receiving cut eyes and bad stares from my mom. I chuckle as I write this. My mother shared Miss Ruth’s dinner and hers and brought it out so they could eat on the veranda together, of course I took my plate there and sat at the feet of my mother. We all ate in silence for a while, with Miss Ruth looking very somber, something was wrong, but whatever it was it was not enough to break her appetite. I must also tell you all that My mother was and still is a great cook, probably that’s why Ruth never declined a meal, de woman hands sweet, and she could cook anything.
After we all finished eating, my sister and I were instructed to take the plates to the kitchen and my sister was told to wash them right away along with giving the kitchen a through cleaning. I was free to go back and sit on the veranda with them. As I joined them I heard Miss Ruth in full story mode telling my mother about her boyfriend and his wife. Boyfriend?, Miss Ruth had A boyfriend?, in my child, mind wasn’t she old, like thirty or something?,…. this was the same way I felt some years later when I found out that my mother was pregnant…. Is what Ruth ah do wid boyfriend?..(a five-year old Jamaican child has the mind of a ten-year old child, we big from we bawn) I am still chuckling here around my laptop as I am writing, children are so precious! Listen to the story Miss Ruth told my mom. Oh by the way let me not leave anything out, my mother did not know Miss Ruth had a boyfriend either, although they were close friends.
The man was a higgler/market seller On Maxfied avenue in Kingston and he was married. On Saturdays Miss Ruth would go to the market but would only go to his stall to get her produce. Being that he was her boyfriend no money exchanged hands, she never paid for anything and unbeknownst to both Ruth and him other sellers in the market noticed this as time went by and told the wife of their suspicion. The wife made some investigations about Miss Ruth and found out where she lived, (the boyfriend had alerted Miss Ruth to this one week prior), so this particular evening Ruth came home from work and according to what I heard her tell my mother, as she stepped to her front door she stepped on a black chicken head which crunched loudly under her foot causing her to scream and jump back. This drew the attention of Miss Ruth’s landlady and her husband who came rushing to the front of the house where they found a visibly shaken Ruth.
The landlady and her husband saw what Miss Ruth pointed at and inched up to see what was there. There laid a brown calabash and inside was paper with some kind of language written on it, some black and red powder, two small vials which had some liquid in them and some assortments of Obeah items and a note written on a white piece of paper was taped on her front door. On the outside of the calabash were four chicken heads laid in the position of East, west north and south. The landlady”s husband was brave enough to take a piece of cloth and remove the note ignoring the warnings of his wife and it read “Leave my husband alone, this is a warning, but not a joke the work has already began against you if you insist then so be it”! The landlady shouted the blood of Jesus and both she and her husband began to pray fervently and chanted many Psalms , after which Miss Ruth came to our house….(hearing all of this I don’t know how she could have eaten).
During the retelling of the story Miss Ruth had began to cry saying she is not a trouble maker, to which my mother replied “Yes Ruth, but what you expect when you go with married man”. My mother was a no-nonsense woman and she called a spade a spade, either you accept it or you don’t. She got up went inside and started to put some sweet-smelling liquid on Miss Ruth, but only in certain areas of her body. I remember this specifically because my mother did the same to us and called my father to do the same to him but he would not allow her to do it. She spoke sternly at him, telling him that it was to ward off evil which may have followed Ruth to our house, to which my dad replied “nutten cyaan trouble Selassie pickney”, lol.
I grew up to experience what Miss Ruth went through that day, except I was the wife and it was the sweetheart who did the Obeah. my mother helped my spiritually a lot during those terrible times. This woman who came after me with Juju/Obeah had no mercy and she not only came after me she also tried my children. She was also another one who helped in my spiritual development and to find my path and become who I am today, because without her relentless pursuit of my children’s father and trying to get rid of me, I would not have learned how to fight and stand up for myself spiritually, remember out of every bad experience wisdom is gained, and In Jamaica we have a saying…A man is a fool to what he does not know.
At the time I did not know it, but I have since come to realize that she was part of my life’s plan to lead me to Obara Meji.. She was a terrible one our spiritual war lasted for years, but from that war I learned the most …….what terror did I choose, but God is no fool!
Ọgbọ́n ọlọ́gbọ́n ni kì í jẹ́ kí a pe àgbà ní wèrè. /
By wisely adopting the wisdom of others, an elder does not get seen as stupid.
[We can learn from anyone; don’t despise others.] Yoruba Proverb!.
Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan proverb