January 27, 2018 by Fensic
It wasn’t too many years ago, seven fuh de most, dat ah went back tuh de ole neighborhood where mih American journey started all dem years ago.
Ah couldn’t wait tuh see de place an step back into time.
Outside ah few modifications, de house was still dey. But boy had de neighborhood changed. Fuhget de neighborhood, de udder houses orn de street had changed. Everyting had changed.
Decades ago, when I had first seen dem houses ah struggled tuh get used tuh how all ah dem look alike so. Ah had never seem anyting like dat. It turned into ah nightmare fuh mih real quick cause inside ah week ah went an get lorse. Buh ah learn new landmarks an soon was able tuh find de right house even in de dead of night.
I suspected de area used tuh be white or predominantly white years before I landed because I couldn’t see white bus drivers, garbage men, an postmen servicin ah black neighborhood. Even de majority ah poleece officers slouched dong in dey poleece cars rollin by was white. I assumed it was de same fuh teachers in all three levels ah schools — elementary, middle an high.
It only had one white couple orn de block back when I lived dey an ah suspecte dey was too ole tuh flee.
So yuh could imagine mih surprise when mih American travels take mih back tuh dat part ah de country an ah started visitin de family house orn dat street seven years ago.
Except fuh mih fadder an step mudder, most ah de adults who was arong in de early days was gorn. Ah had expected dat all doh I eh know how many still enjoyin de sun in Florida. One or two ah houses probably empty given de uncut grass.
It used tuh have ah decrepit gas station orn one side ah de family house. I did know de first time ah see it dat it didn’t belong in de neighborhood an I hadn’t seen de owner yet. He an mih fadder didn’t get along at all. Where mih fadder used tuh buy he gas, ah had no clue. Tank goodness dat eyesore was long gorn by de time ah started visitin.
Orn de next side ah we used tuh live ah couple from Jamaica wid dey US-born chirren. All dem long gorn. De family dey now is Sikhs. Ah was dey fuh ah big big blowup wid dem. By default I was orn de udder side. Dat leads mih tuh de biggest change orn de block.
Despite de gas station, de street an neighborhood used tuh residential. Unless de definition changed, I eh feel it as residential no more. Not wid ah Sikh temple ah few houses up de street. It seem like dey buy two ah de original homes an convert dem into ah compound.
When Sunday reach, Sikhs from who know how far, flood de neighborhood. Is ah colorful sight given de bright colors de women does wear but ah know mih family see nuttin but red when Sikhs block de driveway when dey try an shoe horn dey cars an SUVs into spaces too small fuh parkin. So every Sunday mih family used tuh remove dey cars from de driveway an park dem orn de street.
I was already visitin when de neighbors start pavin dey front an backyard. Den one Sunday dey was in de road directin temple traffic into dey yard.
De response was immediate.
It was one hell of ah argument between dese latest American immigrants an mih family. Somebody report de parkin violation tuh de powers dat be an next ting yuh know de neighbors was diggin out de concrete in dey front yard, not parkin cars in de back an watchin me cut-eye like I live next door. However, de temple start deliverin ah plate ah food tuh we house orn Sundays. Ah peace offerin ah suppose.
I cyar speak fuh nobody in dat house buh yuh see me? Eef I feudin wid you, what go be de chances I eatin any food you put orn ah plate fuh me? Especially when me eh see you make it.
My argument wid all de Sikhs was how dey congregate orn de pavement so when I want tuh parse I have tuh beg dem tuh excuse mih. Den ah does have tuh weave mih way arong dem since dey does ignore my arse. Dey eh pay dey dues yet so dey cyar be so boldface. Yes de place change over de years buh dey should still be respectful of who been in de country long before dem.
So what eef I doh live orn dat street or anyplace close? I precede dem here by decades an wid dat come entitlements.
I entitled tuh walk de pavements widout beggin, “excuse mih, excuse mih”, because dey eh want tuh move.
Dey eh know how I entitled I feel given how bard ah did get lorse dem donkey years ago eidder.
Ah had gorn into de city wid mih fadder tuh apply fuh ah job an was returnin by mihself. Less dan ah week out ah Trinidad wid ‘O’ an ‘A’ Levels useless tuh help. I had never been orn ah train travelin undergrong an at one point, under de river. Ah never had been arong so many white people or so many people makin my Trini accent ah novelty. Ah was self-conscious tuh de point ah timidity. Den I went an get lorse like ah had never been lorse before in mih life. Ah know ah was in de genera area buh exactly where was de house? I was ready tuh pack mih grip —we call suitcases “grips” back den — an return tuh de familiar confines ah Triniland. Sadly ah had tuh find de house first. So yes, I felt entitled when I run into dem Sikhs in mih new old neighborhood seven years ago.
However, de onlyest ting ah was entitled to, eef anyting, was tuh welcome de newcomers an wish dem de best of luck assimilatin into dey new homeland.
My return tuh ah earlier time an place wasn’t possible.
Once ah realize dat, someting else become obvious.
Me an mih pardnah was torkin about de Trinidad an Tobago of tuhday an how we eh know it at all. He wanted tuh know where all dem criminals it have comin from. Ah remind him Chin Lee announce Operation Anaconda in 2002 an dat Luke Adams was one years young. He is de fella shot dead in Port of Spain about ah week ago aged what, nineteen?
We — mih an mih pardnah, know ah very different Triniland from Luke Adams however, de one dat count is de one he lived. He was born an bred into ah era ah deadly violence. We not used tuh dat an better find someplace else tuh walk instead of bodderin he peers wid any, “excuse me, excuse me”.
Eef my experiences in dat ole new place where it all started is valid, you could only visit buh yuh cyar go home again.
Wherever ‘home’ was.
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