4: 30pm (Fri)
Last week was thunderstorm and lightning, flooding and death. A week of horrors that left me haunted by images of nine-year-old boys being washed out to sea. It all began on Monday when floodwaters lifted up higher than walls, blocking roads, swallowing walkways, leaving hordes of Montegonians stranded. But that was only the beginning. The unimaginable was yet to come.
Monday night I spend almost four hours out in the rain, huddled beneath my umbrella, contemplating a long walk home as I saw cars cramped in streets, traffic miles long and those children, their pleated tunics in hand as they trotted up Orange Street.
As I traversed the crowds, I heard the whispers. “Two pickney from Green Pond School wash way. No doubt them drown.” In those moments while I dodged splashes of rain and watched cars crawl up the hills, it didn’t sink in. Those whispers floated in the air but didn’t quite connect in my mind as I watched screw-face drivers honk their horns and pedestrians zigzag across the rain-eaten sidewalks.
But when morning came and I heard the news, the overnight whispers began to sink beneath my skin. The bodies of nine-year old twin boys were found down at Dump-Up Beach. One taxi driver asked me if I was going to look, like him think I was journalist or necromancer. I shook my head. I didn’t want to be see the dead. But their pictures floated on Facebook. Inadvertently, I caught a glimpse of their bodies lying on the sand. They took up residence in my mind.
The week seemed as determined as the rain to summon tragedies. On Thursday news of a nine-year-old boy’s death captured our attention. He was stabbed to death by a fourteen-year old high school student and abandoned in the bushes. On Friday reports surfaced of a nine-year old girl who committed suicide after being scolded her stepmother — news that led the Mayor of Montego Bay to declare an emergency.
Last week’s events led me to contemplate the state of my country. I thought to myself why a “likkle yet talawah” nation such as ours with so much beauty and potential should fall victim to all these atrocities. I thought to myself why our government always waiting for tragedy before an action plan is brought to the forefront. Only two days ago they announced plans to repair gullies in Montego Bay. Such delays only cause people like myself to hiss teeth and cut we eye. Is like somebody giving you bandages to a patch up deep wound.
Sometimes I really can’t blame Jamaicans for feeling so pessimistic about the nation and I wonder what’s the solution? Will we find the solution in the government? Will we find it in politicians? Though I’m constantly bombarded with all the negative vibrations of discontent — the can’t-wait-to-go-foreign mentality— I put my trust in the only problem-solver I can depend on. Only in God do I see hope…
Sometimes I wonder about my future and the future of my country — a place that has become a source of both profound promise and disappointment. What will happen to me and my family if I choose to live here? Will I ever reach my full potential in this small, broken place?
I dare to believe in the impossibilities — that a barren womb can give birth and a broken place can heal. Though even now the clouds may darken and threaten thunderstorm and lighting, I dare to believe that we can float above it all, buoyed up by confidence in a future that’s as bright as our faith.