|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 90 - Friday February 16, 2007
|Me and my Wayward Friend |
Dr Emanuel Finn
On the early morning of January 3rd just as I was heading out of La Plaine , one of my classmates at La Plaine school whose nick name is ‘My Boy’ stopped by to say good bye.
My Boy’s left leg was amputated after a bolder rolled and pinned his leg while working in his garden in the mountains two decades ago. He had never left the village and over the decades had grown to like the (rum) ‘bottle immensely. He was at a stage where the ‘bottle’ was now drinking out of him.
My Boy quickly asked me if I could give him a ‘little something’ for his Christmas. I handed him some money as he drank a few shots of rum from a small plastic bottle which he kept in his pocket.
He then sang the song which placed him third runner up in the last La Plaine carnival calypso competition a few years ago. The sound was short on content but full of raunchy lyrics and sexual suggestions. That was not surprising as his calypso name is Mighty ‘Pum-Pum’.
I was dying of uncontrollable laughter by the time he got to the chorus. I told him that I heard enough and that it was a great song. After receiving that vote of confidence our conversation quickly got more serious. He told me that his biggest life regrets were that he hated school and always found an opportunity to stay away from classes.
I told him I remember clearly that he would join us at noon time as we headed home for lunch after staying away from school all morning. He would hide in the bushes picking mangoes and oranges or setting dove traps. Other times he would spend his mornings and afternoons on the river banks fishing.
The location of the school is at the bottom of the village at the junction where the road leads to Laronde and points south. My Boy‘s home is in Balizear, the section of La Plaine at the base of Morne Gouvernear near the track which descends to the Sari-Sari Falls. That meant that he would have to walk a few minutes more to get to school than most of us who lived in the village center.
The distance from the school also made a perfect excuse for not bothering to return to school for the two hours (1:30 PM– 3:00 PM) after lunch period. My Boy complained that the thirty minutes walk from Balizear to the school after lunch was too much for him.
He would always tell his mom and elders that he had attended school all day. Of course he never had any home work. We did not dare challenge him in public or complain to his mom about his constant absence from school. The few times we attempted to address that issue with him, he would always threaten us with bodily harm with a cutlass.
After about an hour of talking and reminiscing, he wished me safe passage to America and departed. He then hobbled away past the few sugar cane and banana trees that line my parent’s home and slowly disappeared into the valley. Our lives had taken very different turns after starting in the same place at the same time and under similar circumstances and realities.
I began thinking about the powerful exchange I had just experienced. The conversation saddened me, it was emotionally exhausting on my conscience and it pricked and fatigued my heart. I kept asking myself why didn’t I tell his mom that he was frequently absent from school. Maybe his life could have turned out differently.
Suddenly, my deep thoughts and temporary sadness were interrupted by the breathtaking sights of the majestic early eastern morning sunrise on the horizon. The sun rays appeared to be bouncing off the lush green tropical rain forests. To my right in the far distance was the therapeutic panoramic view of the unpolluted white mist billowing out of the belly Morne Gouverneaur.
The powerful and almost magical sights triggered more memories of fun boyhood days while growing up in that that small southeastern agricultural community playing cricket with coconut bats with My Boy.
The sights made me realize how beautiful a country Dominica is. It then occurred to me in a very real way why foreigners from all corners of the world are flocking to the island and scrambling for all the land their money can buy.
A few hours after My Boy left me on the back steps I boarded an aircraft for my final destination in America. Minutes after it airborned, it took a hard right and quickly disappeared out of Dominican airspace. But did I really disappear from La Plaine, and Dominica. I am not sure.
Later that night my family and I arrive ‘home’ in the big city not too far from Capitol Hill under frigid weather conditions. As I headed to work the in morning’s rush hour traffic exhausted, sleep deprived and jet lagged, I thought of My Boy’s conversation twenty four (24) hours ago.
During my return trip home later that evening, I arrived at the true (not relative) definition of home. ‘My real home will always be in the rain forests of the La Plaine Mountains between the Sari-Sari and Laronde river valleys, close to My Boy’s home where the manicou and agouti bid each other good night’.