From the perspective of an early teenage boy, the years after I came into myself, life in Nevis can only be described as pure joy. I’m not saying this just in foresight now. I have always thought that I had the best life anyone could have. Wake up, pick hag meat, milk de cow, walk to school with friends, laughing and teasing each other all de way, while finding time to pitch marbles, tief kinep, mangoes and anyting that presents itself.
Oh oh, we late!! No problem. Me can put dat little green seed under me tongue, because dem seh nobody ever get licks for being late when dem put dat little green seed under dem tongue. Ok, it wuk sometimes. Ok, we continue after de licks. Recess time gets de lessons out de way, we pitch marbles, play cricket, hopin that no one hits de one ball in Amul’s land. Game done. Back to class. We go home to more fun, well and some work, until darkness intrudes.
Ok, when was the last time any of you saw a full moon inna Merica. I mean a real full moon against the dark skies, where everyone claims to decipher different patterns like Glen’s grandfather’s head, or Mac riding a bike, or Dave chasing a lamb, or my grandmother sleeping in church. Then after we’ve come to the end of our lunar sightseeing, there was only one activity left.
Hoop. Yes, some people call it hide and seek, but we called it hoop. Now, I had one main problem with hoop, or should I say, everyone seemed to have a huge problem with me during hoop time. Once word got around that, in earlier years, my father had the very same problem, everyone figured out that this was probably a serious enough problem that would require that I be banished from hoopdom. No one wanted to hide with me, so I often found myself hiding by myself. You see, once the searchers got anywhere close to our hiding place, I just couldn’t resist the urge to start laughing out loudly-, exposing the whole team. You’d think that after being relegated to hiding by myself, I’d change my foolish ways and stop laughing. No. But I determined that despite my propensity to lol, I’d never, ever again get caught during hoop. I still hold the record for going the longest without ever getting caught, despite my constant loling.
Here’s what I did. I decided that, since I had to hide alone, I would never be found, even while I laughed all night. How did I accomplish this? You guessed it right. I decided to hide in my bed at home. I ran straigt home and went into my bed. Nite, Nite!!!
On nights when not playing hoop, of course we couldn’t just be idle. We would invariably decide to learn something from those who were best equipped to provide very important knowledge. What else are young boys to do? Though warned by parents not to sit on the “wall” where grown men congregate, we, young, teenage boys would hover around just close enough to hear their conversations about drink and women, and sometimes, we’d even be allowed to sit and listen to them. Somehow, just as it got dark enough, the topic always seems to change to ghosts, or what we call “JUMBY”. Now, like many villages, my village of Brown Hill is separated in to different areas, with “main” roads leading to those areas. De road leading to my house was not smooth, but was filled with rocks. No problem. I knew every clear spot to avoid stumping me toes while running in de dark.
Once the older men started telling jumby stories, each boy would look around, making sure that he’s not the only person going his way. No one wanted to be the person living the farthest into the village. There have been instances where the last two fellows would get stuck, following each other home, back and forth, until they came to their senses and decided to have one sleep at the other’s home. The worst nightmare would occur when one looks around and realizes that he’s the only person who’s going “up de hill” or “dung de path”. We couldn’t wait until the older men were ready to go home, so plan B was put in place. Plan B was to pray. Yes, pray that a vehicle would pass by, going to your area. Once your recognize the vehicle, you became a teenage Usain Bolt, running over the rocks and sticks in de road, ahead of de vehicle, and hoping, and praying even more, that the vehicle doesn’t change its mind and turn off, or worse yet, stop.
So, who remember when rastaman first appeared in Nevis? Well, every early teenage boy decided that he was a rastaman, and would go a long way to prove it. Me, I mimicked me rasta uncle by washing me hair with aloes, then shake it out, shouting, “Jah, rastafari, conquering lion of de tribe of Judah. Selassie I. Elect of Gard, root of David!” After a few minutes in de sun, I’d started walking with a certain tilt and hop, and using using words like “bwoy”, “I and I”, “ballhead” and “abomination” in order to establish my dred cred. But you couldn’t just stop there. Any rastalet worth his salt had to really play the role. That included sometimes “teking, not tiefing” fruits from folks’ land, calling out ballheads and letting dem know what was an abomination to I and I.
Now, there were to very important timeframes in the life of a rastalet. One was late evening in one instance and Sunday morning in the other instance. You see, specifically during summer months, rastalets were not concerned about eating at home. That is until dinner time. So, all day, de I and I’s would get by on cricket, mangoes, kinup and anything except what is at home. Once we couldn’t see de cricket ball, it was time to go home, and it was also time to eat dinner. Remember, Mama never signed up for this lil rasta ting, so she must have forgotten to prepare de ital food. No problem man, just give a bowl a dat ting dere. Sunday morning was a much more important, and serious time in the lifetime of a rastalet. Remember that aloe and shaking a told you about? Yes. Well, I and I left it in all week, and it was time to go to church. And there didn’t exactly allow any I and I’s in church.
And den de comb would appear. I and I neva really like how dem would grab me head and pull me lacks uno, but as long as me frens never see me tears, me ready to put on me shirt and tie, grab me testament and off to Babylon. Cyarn wait to put more aloes and shake agen on Monday morning. Yes I! Jah!! Rastafari!!!