Friday, September 4, 2015

I had been there before ........


An article on slave quarters reminded me of an experience I am sharing publicly for the first time.
   Many years ago when I was at CPTC in Jamaica, I went with a video crew to interview the owner of one of our old plantation estates Good Hope in Trelawny. As executive producer, I wasn't part of the production crew. I went along out of curiousity and was therefore free to make my own observations of what I saw. 
   The tour was intensive and extensive and our guide, Patrick Tennyson, whose family owned the estate at that time was very knowledgeable about the estate. 
   He took us all over the estate, some parts in ruins, but he give us the history of intriguing old buildings, the old slave hospital, old stone walls, beautiful landscape, the well preserved Great House.

   There was a section with just rubble with the remains of one or two rusty old iron implements. This was the slave quarters. I have no explanation of what I experienced on this site after he informed us that this was the area where the slaves were housed. There are a couple seconds of my life that time reversed and I 'met' a slave called Jacob who instructed me to tell his story. I still get goose pimples when I recall the incident. I felt as if I actually was transported into past time seeing huts and people dimly – everything ghostly. It could only have been a brief time because nobody sensed that anything was wrong with me.
   For the rest of the day I followed the crew and our guide around in a daze. But all that I saw burned into my imagination, so some time later I wrote Jacob's story. It was published, in1991, in my collection of short stories titled Singerman by Peepal Tree Press as Jacob Bubbles.  
   This is a very scary story for which I have absolutely no explanation. I re- read the story just now. It still scares me, and I am sad that so much of it can still be considered contemporary, for Jacob's story got mixed up with his descendant, Bubbles.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I was obsessed with my Trevor

Another short-short story

"Trevor!" I yelled.
    My sister and my niece who were just coming through the door looked around startled. As if they expected to see Neville Longbottom's toad jumping at them. They had promised me a plant for my birthday and I was so excited to see it. 
   I had read up on plants - how you should name them and talk to them like persons. I hadn't given a thought to the name I would choose until I saw the plant in my sister's hands. It was definitely a Trevor.

   It was frondy and curley-cued, some kind of plant which I didn't recognize, but I fell in love at once. I measured its water and plant food carefully and moved it around on the terrace until I found the spot it seemed to like best. Many evenings, while I relaxed with a cup of tea, Trevor listened to my woes from work, or problems with my other love. Trevor became my best friend.

   For a few months Trevor thrived, loving my attention, then disaster struck. Trevor began to look droopy. Some leaves curled up, grew brown and fell off. I was beside myself. What could be wrong with my Trevor?  I tried this and that. No Internet search helped. 
   My boyfriend (who I think was jealous of the attention I gave Trevor) said that maybe I had misnamed the plant, and it was not a boy plant but a girl plant. We had a nearly relationship-ending conversation about this. All plants have to be girls, he said, since they could reproduce other plants. He suggested that I rename my plant Trevilla or Trevina and it would recuperate. I slammed the door behind him.

   But, next day, he brought his friend who was a horticulturalist. He pruned Trevor severely, (I could barely watch) and revealed two new plants growing out of his roots. Some plants he explained, die down to make room for their offspring. I think my boyfriend had told him of my obsession; they both had sly grins on their faces.  
   When they left, I felt as if I had lost a lover. (Talk about gender confusion.) As if Trevor was an ex who had left me with two strange step-children. I felt very detached from them. I didn't even know their names. Perhaps we would have a healthier relationship. It hadn't really worked out with Trevor, after all. He had deserted me.