74-year-old living on 'poverty line'
Basil Parchment seemed as if he didn't have a care in the world. The 74-year-old man sat in his usual position along the side of the road in White Marl, St Catherine.
There he was in the blazing sun with his chin planted firmly in the palm of his right hand, staring into space as The Gleaner approached him yesterday.
Many rumours had surfaced about why Parchment would sit there each day on his fold-up bed, rain or shine.
Residents from surrounding communities stated that his wife had died in a car crash along the road and Parchment was there waiting on her return. Others claimed that he worked at one of the businesses nearby, got fired and was simply showing up to work each day.
However, when The Gleaner spoke to Parchment, it was a completely different story. He said that he had been living at that spot for nine months now. Prior to that, he would ride his bicycle and visit the spot frequently, after which he would return home.
Thrown out of house
Parchment said he was the caretaker of a home in Independence City, Portmore, but, after living there for years, the owners threw him out.
"I was a caretaker at the house for eight years before those ungrateful people said they wanted the place and threw me out. I never even got a dollar of compensation for my eight years' work," Parchment said.
"During the time I lived there, I used to ride to this spot because I liked it and would just sit here looking at the cars. I wouldn't stay for long, but since I lost the house, I have been living here and life is very hard," he continued.
Parchment explained the difficulties he faced daily.
"It is difficult at times because mi cyaa find no food to eat, and when the rain falls, it gets very cold. Mi grow up inna the poverty line. Real poverty is when you sick and you stay sick because you can't even go to the doctor because you can't afford it," he said.
"I was a working man. That was my tradition, as I would often paint and do other trades. I liked doing things for myself but I can't even do that again because those damn people stole my bicycle and phone while I was sleeping here one night. It is so difficult to walk to Portmore and back from here," Parchment added.
He went on to declare that the trousers that he had on were the only ones he owned, as people had stole most of his belongings.
"I even have family, two sons and a daughter, but much of them don't business bout me anymore. I just sit here hoping that things will get better one day and I would be grateful for any help that I can receive," Parchment continued.
Euggenie Walker, a practical nurse at St Monica's Home For the Elderly and Abandoned, expressed her concern for Parchment, as she would often speak to him and offer him food.
"I hope that someone can find somewhere comfortable for him, as he just wants to avoid people and does not want to get involved with anyone. If I am out there talking to him and somebody else comes along, then he will stop talking," she said.
"I think that is why he turned down our invitation to stay in the home once already when there was an opening, as he does not like to bother people. I really wish for the best, however, as he cannot stay there forever," Walker added.