Tue | Jul 27, 2021

Yearning to come back to Ja

Published:Tuesday | April 13, 2021 | 12:08 AM


Long ago, there in Jamaica, an old iron-cloth pants farmer told me that when I became an old man like him, I should come back to Jamaica and the people there would take good care of me. Fifty years ago this year, while, in the US Peace Corps, I lived alone in the hills of Trelawny in a house I had rented to carry out my duties as a volunteer. I am now an old man.

The river of life has carried me far and wide since those early days of my youth, and its waters were not always calm ones. In total, I came to Jamaica to live and work three different times over the course of a 25 year period – first as a naïve, young volunteer; the second, as an experienced math teacher in a St Ann secondary school; and finally, for a short time, as an administrator/teacher in Kingston at The Priory School in the last year it was privately managed.

Each time, I came, and for some unfortunate reason, I reluctantly had to leave. Today I’m retired, working part-time as many of my Baby Boom generation do, and though I am hardly well-off, I am at least comfortable for now, here in Florida in a small retirement community.

When I look back, I discover I’ve penned a lot of letters printed in The Gleaner, as I also did in local papers here in the United States. In doing so, over time, I came to task myself as a writer and so writing is what I’m doing a lot of today.

When I tell someone about my Jamaican exploits, they always ask when I’m going back and I tell them, “When I win the lottery.” Yet I think to myself: “When I write a best seller”, and then I go back to the keypad and try harder.

I know if I were born a Jamaican and had gone ‘north’, that’s what I’d be trying to do – trying to get home, as the old man said, to some place where the people would take good care of me.


The Teacher

Bokeelia, Florida