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Uncle Cecil and the falling cars of Cassava River

Published:Tuesday | February 23, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Uncle Cecil
Uncle Cecil points to his home in Cassava River, rural St Catherine. - Photos by Robert Lalah

Claplunk! The loud noise outside jolted Uncle Cecil from his sleep late one rainy Sunday night.

"Mi swear ah one ah di hog dem get weh inna di yard," said Uncle Cecil, relating the story of that night.

"But den mi seh, no, di hog couldn't so loud, so mi jump outa di bed and run outside wid mi cutlass."

As he ran outside, Uncle Cecil contemplated the different possibilities. Was he about to face a brazen band of robbers, a mule gone astray or perhaps a spurned lover hurling rocks at his roof? All these things ran through his mind but, as he opened the front door of his home and looked out, what greeted him made him angrier than he ever imagined.

"Mi seh, no sah, not again! Dis could never be happening again."

Car in his yard

A small car had careened off the road on the hill above Uncle Cecil's house and had landed just about 10 feet from his home. The wheels of the car were still spinning even though the car was upside down. Luckily, the driver was alright, but he had to endure quite a tongue-thrashing from Uncle Cecil.

"Dat ah di third time inna two year dat one car drop pan mi house, and mi very tired ah it," said the man as we stood on the side of the road, looking down at his house in Cassava River, rural St Catherine, last week.

"Every time ah di same ting, and mi tired fi tell di people dem seh dem need fi tek time drive, or somebody need fi build a wall right here," he said.

Now, to be fair, Uncle Cecil, as he is called throughout the community, is a bit of a curmudgeon, who does complain a lot but, looking down at the roof of his house with parts of wrecked cars still in his yard, it's hard not to see his point.

"Three time inna two year man teck di corner too wide and land pan mi roof! Di third time is di last though. Di next man who do dat haffi go pay mi fi space. Dem ah come inna my yard, dem need fi pay rent!" he said.

It's true that Uncle Cecil's small house, in which he lives with his teenaged grandchildren, is built at an unfortunate spot. You can't even see it from the road. I asked him, though cautiously, if he thought there were better places he could have built his home. Let's just say, the old man was not pleased with the implication of my query.

"Seh wah? You waan mi get dark?" he said, the muscles in his face becoming even more pronounced.

"When mi ah build my house, dem who build di road not even gimmi tupance, so dem can't talk to mi! Mi live ah Cassava River long before dis road build, so if anyting fi move, ah di road," Uncle Cecil reasoned.

Hoping for gov't's aid

He pointed to his neighbour's house, which was built in a similar spot.

"Every house around here build di same way, so dem need fi sort out di road, for it not gwine pretty if it happen again."

I asked him what his plan was. "Well, I gwine write a letter to di Government and tell dem please I begging a wall so dat when mi ah sleep no car nuh drop pan mi head. If dat don't work, I going to start collect rent, as mi tell yuh. Dis ting haffi go stop! Di whole country ah bawl fi rain, but me have plenty rain ah fall pan my house. Di only ting, dis yah rain can't put on pot," said he.