Mon | Jun 18, 2018

Race Course happenings

Published:Tuesday | September 27, 2011 | 12:00 AM
The apparent centre of activity in Race Course, Clarendon. Photo by Robert Lalah

On a sunny Wednesday morning, a man called Fenton stood in the shade of a withering ackee tree in Race Course, Clarendon, anxiously ripping apart a large, brown envelope. He had only moments before exited the community post office.

"See it yah now," he whispered to himself. "See it yah now."

After a few seconds, the man pulled out a piece of paper and scanned it. It was then that I walked up to him.

"A good morning to you!" I said, cheerily.

"Shhh!" the man replied, still looking at the paper.

I went quiet.

Fenton, a frail-looking fellow with a wrinkled forehead, was reading silently, but he was mouthing all the words. He was wearing a blue cap and spectacles with very thick frames.

After about a minute, he looked up.

"But si yah!" he exclaimed.

Then, Fenton folded the piece of paper, put it back into the torn envelope and quickly stuffed it inside a black bag he was holding. He looked cross.

Tentatively, I repeated my greeting.

"Ay, mi son," the man replied.

He seemed distracted. I asked him if he was OK.

"No sah!" he snapped.

"Di wife deh all di way ah farin and still ah give mi pure baddaration. Cho!" he said. "Head fava guinep seed!"

Just as I was going to ask him what happened, he spoke up.

"Mi gone leave yuh. Mi haffi go tell Ginger bout dah one yah," he said and walked off.

Not much happening

Standing alone on that dusty roadway I looked around at the area. There didn't seem to be much going on in the community. Most of the buildings looked long abandoned. There was a library across the road. That and the post office seemed the only signs of life.

Shuffle shuffle. I looked down the road and saw a man heading my way on a bicycle. He was singing loudly with a booming voice.

"Across the bridge, there'll be no sorrow," he sang. "Across the bridge, there'll be no pain."

As he got close to the post office, he slowed then came to a complete stop. The man, who was wearing a red and black cap and a pair of blue trousers, hopped off the bicycle and walked towards the post office. He had a slight limp and was carrying a black plastic bag.

"Miss Rowe!" he bellowed.

No answer.

"Sherone!" the man called again. "Ah carry some mango for yuh," he said. Someone inside squealed in apparent delight and asked the man to take the mangoes to the back door. The man agreed and disappeared around the back.

At this point, a shirtless man riding on a bicycle passed by me. He was balancing a white bucket on his head.

"Fish mi have here, fresh fish!" he yelled.

A woman sitting on a metal chair across the road from the library called out. "Fish man!" I hadn't seen her before.

The man with the bucket on his head looked around.

"Mi want two fish fi go steam!" the woman said.

"Is pure likkle fish mi gots, pure fryas," said the man with the bucket.

"Den nuh likkle fish mi want?" the woman replied. The man mumbled something about the woman not having any money, then said much louder: "When mi circle back mi check yuh!"

With that, he rode away. The woman hissed.

'Cooling out'

I walked over to her and said hello. "Eh? Yeah, mawning," she said. Her hair was uncombed and she seemed tired.

I asked her if she lived in Race Course. "No sah! Mi live into Kemps Hill, dung di road," she said, pointing behind me.

"Yuh know which part Maas Joe Joe live?" she asked. I told her I didn't. "Well mi live cross di road," she said.

I asked her what she was doing in Race Course.

"Den mi nuh can go weh mi please?" she asked. "Mi nuh smaddy too?"

I quickly sought to assure her that I meant no disrespect. It was merely a friendly question.

"Mi just cooling out. Mi can't cool out?" she said. I assured her she could and should.

She looked me up and down. There being nobody else around, I asked her what life was like in Race Course.

The woman furrowed her brow before answering.

"It boredom bad!" she said.

"Not even likkle music nobaddy nah play. Cho! Den me siddung yah so ah try cool out and is pure question question. Mi gone back ah mi yard yah," she said. With that, the woman got to her feet and walked off in the direction of Kemps Hill.

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