Sun | Dec 11, 2016

Aye Rex, it's evening time ...

Published:Thursday | February 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

I can see it now. Uncle Eric singing with Miss Lou under the coconut tree, and Byron Lee on his guitar and Trevor Rhone entertaining with Old Story Time - all tending to their own business - keeping busy even though they have eternity. And then the trumpet sounds. Everyone becomes still. A deafening silence fills the air and the 21 cultural salute rings in the air. They all look at each other - wondering who now?

Eyes turned towards the pearly gates and anxiety can be heard with the beating hearts. Then he appears - "It is only me".

There is a mixture of tears and joy as they welcome him into the culture yard. Byron starts the tune, and Miss Lou moves towards him: "Is a long time bwoy mi neva see you, come mek me hold yuh han'." They dance to the welcome song, leaving him to demonstrate the perfection of the mento.

The master orator

Then he is given his tools, a pen and book, and later he joins Trevor taking over with his eloquent oration. Uncle Eric and Miss Lou gather around, Byron sticks a pin on his tunes and all ears listen attentively as he speaks. The words roll off his tongue with such ease, and capture everything within its reach. Even nature stands still.

Then, they huddle together - remembering old times, talking about generation gaps, about how much things have changed. They ask the newcomer all they can about the home they loved and served.

At midnight, his birthday cake is ready, and they all sing Happy Birthday the Jamaican way. Then, as they sit to eat the rich fruit cake and drink Red Stripe, an aura of sadness falls on them. The reality creeps in that each represents an enormous part of Jamaican culture. Each is a cultural icon. Each had fought and served for culture. And now, as the sadness turns to silence, their thoughts are heard by the air. "Who will carry on, who will take over? Was it the end of a cultural era?"

"Ah boys," Miss Lou says, "It won't be lost." Then she heartily laughs. "After all the rain, dutty still tuff Rex?"

He smiles and nods. "Yet we tek kin teet and kibber heart bun". He touches his heart.

"Oh Brother Rex," Uncle Trevor says, as he touches him on the shoulder, "It fail you too."

"Yes. And I wasn't finished."

"But the heart was," Uncle Eric says. "Your purpose is fulfilled. You have fought the good fight. You have sown the seed."

"Yes." Byron says as he strums a key on his guitar. "And the harvest will be sown."

"Evening time, work is over now, is evening time ..."

I am, etc.,

SYNDIA A PAYNE

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