Mon | Apr 6, 2020

Rainy day in Amity Hall

Published:Tuesday | March 12, 2013 | 12:00 AM
A house in Amity Hall, St Thomas.
Another standout church in Amity Hall.
A roadside church. - photos by Robert Lalah

Well, I certainly didn't plan for this! Just 10 minutes earlier I was happily roaming the St Thomas community called Amity Hall, sharing jokes with friendly residents and enjoying the outstanding landscape. Now I was huddled under a creaking shed made of zinc and wood, with an impish fellow called Byron, as heavy rains lashed the area with alarming force. It was a windy shower, so the shed was providing shelter for little more than our heads, but there was no building close enough for us to run to. We were stuck.

"Jah leggo di pipe pan we wickid, man!" said Byron. The left half of my face was soaked. We could see that down the road this sudden shower was already causing the roadway to flood. Tree branches were swaying to and fro as a drenched dog darted down a nearby hill.

I asked Byron, a long-time resident of the community, if this kind of sudden rainstorm was common in Amity Hall.

"Well, this part known fi di rain," he said. "Dats how comes di place always so green and ting. Sometimes di rain fall every day, fi all a month straight without stop. Ah so it go, bredda."

The whooshing sound of the wind and rain made it feel like a hurricane. And with due respect, Byron is not the person with whom I'd wish to be cramped in such close quarters. I told him so. "Tee hee! Ah so it go, pardy," he said. "When rain blow yuh get trap all bout. One time me and Miss Jackson daughter get lock up inna one half side ah one house we did ah help build. Whole night she sing inna mi ears bout how mi fi bruck out window. Mi ask har, when mi bruck it, if ah she ah go pay di people dem back fi it." Byron was emphatic as he spoke. He clearly felt passionately about the matter.

"Anyway, we deh deh all night till morning come and some workman come let we out. Dem swear seh we did ah gwaan wid tings. Ah true dem nuh know what a baddaration she be."

The rain continued to lash the area and the wind took a sudden change in direction. Now the right side of my face was getting soaked and my shoes were quickly being infiltrated by the rising water. I told Byron that I was thinking of making a run for it. It would require a mighty run to get to my car that was parked about 300 metres away, but I was convinced it was a better option than staying there with him. I asked him if he was going to stay put, or if I should pick him up once I got to the car, and perhaps deliver him to drier quarters thereafter. He grinned.

uneasy feeling

"No sah! Mi alright," he said. "Mi nuh travel inna motorcar. Motorcar gi mi uneasy feeling. Mi nuh fool round it," he said, shaking his head.

I shook Byron's hand and told him I hoped to meet up with him again, under more comfortable conditions.

"Yeah man, yuh will find mi up ah top road, or yuh can ask dem bwoy fi mi and dem will shout mi," he said. I had no idea which boys he was talking about but couldn't stay to chat. I took a deep breath (for some reason I thought it necessary to hold my breath) and made a dash through the rain that would make Usain Bolt surrender all his gold medals to me. I was as drenched as a river stone when I got inside the car, but grateful that I had at least made it out of the rain. It was a rough ride back to Kingston but, oddly enough, I'm looking forward to going back to Amity Hall soon.

Where should Robert go next? Let him know at