Monday, 4 July 2011

My Brother Paul - Brought Back to Life

I am convinced that my brother, Paul was a Rastaman who never grew his locks. When I was growing up I remember a story told and re-told by my other brothers with morbid glee of a propa buss arse given to Paul by my father Eustace or Blood as he was more commonly called (due to his job as a butcher when he worked in Mass Campbell's butcher shop in Retrieve, a district close to Cambridge in St. James.) According to my brothers, Paul, when he was very young, refused to eat meat and in particular, flat out refused to eat pork my father would carry home from the butcher shop and which my mother would cook for dinner.

It appeared that Paul, who all his life was very different from my parents other children, was just too renegade and different for my father to understand and the murderation in front the yard one Sunday morning over the whole meat and pork eating thing seemed to have been my father's tragic attempt to prove to Paul that he Paul, was no more man than him (my father). Or, maybe my father saw Paul's rejection of the meat or 'flenga, flenga' as my mother and brothers disparagingly referred to the pieces of meat my father used to take home as part of his wages for helping Mass Campbell to butcher mainly cows and the occasional pigs; as a rejection of him, Blood.

My father was a man who was very quiet and unassuming, only gaining bravado and finding his tongue when he was well and truly drunk. He was unable to provide adequately for all of us as was to be expected when my mother, influenced by the child birthing tendencies in those days, took it upon herself to 'have out her lot' which resulted with her giving birth to 12 children, most born a year apart.

Therefore, my father's ability to bring home the pieces of meat regardless of the condition they were in, gave him some measure of pride, as he was able to feed his family and since he couldn't buy rum with the meat, many week ends that is all he ended up coming home with as he usually drank most of his earnings and what he didn't drink probably ended up lost or stolen from his pockets when he lay in drunken stupor sometimes on the very side of the road he was attempting to walk home on. Although few vehicles ran on Marchmont Road in those days, it still is a marvel that he was never run over by one of them and killed.


So when he brought home his meat, be it pork or beef, him no expect say nobody should be talking bout how dem no want it!

As my brothers told it; and based on my fuzzy recollection, (I was probably still in nappies then, Paul was the second child for my parents and I was third to last) That Sunday morning when Paul smelled the pork being cooked on the wood fire in the kitchen, Paul gave out: "Yow! Fire bun pon Arnold! A pork unno a cook fi dinner! Mi no want none!" I don't quite recall how my father managed to catch Paul to start putting on the licks, but I imagine as my father was a very docile man who rarely talked and never beat anybody more than so, Paul might have even seen him coming and saw no threat.

My father caught up with him under a huge trumpet tree that used to be in the front of the yard, but which had to be cut down when they started to build the 'new' house which we eventually occupied in front of the unpainted three-room board house my mother's mother had died and left and in which all my mother's children were born with the aid of a midwife named Miss Matty.

It was years after, as a grown woman when I visited a river in Ocho Rios that emptied into the sea and stopped to pick up the huge leaves of the trumpet trees that formed a comforting canopy over the pasture through which we gained access to the river; that I realised just how huge those threes could grow to.

They seemed to have an active ambition to touch the sky and whereas, their broad, star-like leaves were wide opened like worshiping palms; when they shriveled and fell to the ground, they were curled like tight, giant fists, the kind of cruel fists that pummeled my brother Paul until he submitted to my Father's wish for him to eat pork.  

Well, I don't remember if he actually ate the pork after the baxiding, but at the height of the beating. Paul gave out: "Mi see blinky, mi Pa mi see blinky! Mi wi eat the pork mi pa, mi wi eat it! No beat mi no more!"

Which my brothers made into a catchy ditty and repeated ever so often in sing song voices when they wanted to tease Paul who rarely spoke but had a kind, warm spirit and two eyes that refused to look in the same direction at the same time. He had one gold tooth in the front of his mouth and when he smiled which was usually rare and unexpectedly, the blinding glint of his gold tooth and his crossed eyes would give him a certain look that earned him the name Cyclops from my other brothers who seemed to have far too much time on their hands.

Paul was also nicknamed BIG FOOT by the same set of brothers as his feet were unusually large and a few of his toes appeared to be climbing over each other instead of  behaving themselves and laying beside each other as most people's toes did.

On reflection, it appeared that he only gave in verbally to end the beating and he did not experience a change of conviction per say.

What ever Paul's vices, he could cook!!! Of all my mother's children, when we were growing up, Paul could cook the best. But he didn't really cook for all of us. Paul planted and smoked a lot of weed and he would cook an entire pot of food and eat it all off without giving any of us any and mix and drink one whole jug of drinks in one go. We were for the most part, in awe of him. He was one of two people in our district we knew who would eat succumber or duppy beans as they were also called; a green beanlike berry that grew wild and was very bitter. Paul is who you would call artical. He listened mainly Gregory Isaacs and Franky Paul tunes and loved cowboy movies.

He was tall and dark and shiny and had a deep gruff laugh and seemed not to mind being likened to mythical, lumbering creatures like Cyclops and Big Foot. Due to his size, we knew when he was in the house as the entire board structure would vibrate when ever he stepped into the house. As my mother would say: 'Him no teck time walk."

Paul has one daughter, Shawn, but he never lived to see her grow up. Like our father, Paul died in mysterious circumstances just five months before my father was found face down in Belfont River with fish feasting on his upper lip. See blog post #2: A River Runs Through It & Blog post #3: Sombody Can Juss Dead SO?!

Paul died in a way that no one should die. For years after his death I tried to imagine his final moments with anguish and shortly after his death, I picked up my Bible and with tears streaming down my face, read a Psalms for all those who were responsible for his death. I was therefore not surprised to hear on the news on the radio maybe a year or less after, that an entire family had perished in a fire in the district in Westmoreland where he had been chopped to death, while he slept.

I knew in my heart that they were some how connected to the incident. It is very small district. And shortly after that, almost every year since then when ever its the rainy season, the district would become so flooded, people had to be picked up off their rooftops by JDF soldiers in helicopters. It could be that after my brother's murder, I paid more attention to news about the district, but I somehow felt appeased that some sorta judgement did a reach dem. Serve dem right!

Based on police reports, Paul was found outside the hut in the ganja field where he was killed. They surmised that the chops woke him up and he tried to run for his life, but wasn't able to make it far before his machete wielding attackers finished the blood thirsty task they had started.

It was the second time I had lost one of my siblings. Duke, one of my three older brothers on my mother's side had been killed by the police in Kingston years before. But I had not been as close to Duke as I was to Paul. I was still a little girl when he left Belfont for Kingston.

Paul's death hit hard and started a string of deaths in the family which people said usually happen: "death comes in threes'

We never fully found out the exact circumstances surrounding Paul's death, Westmoreland people no ramp! And just as how dem chop up Paul, dem woulda probably harm anyone who went in to try to find out what happened or collect whatever meagre possessions he had in the hut. So we buried Paul and even though I couldnt bring myself to look at him in the coffin which sat on mama's almost brand new dining table chairs in front of Cow Son and Miss Clemmie's house and which my brother Pete occupied every since they both died years before.

When Miss Pet, who loved Paul to no end for he gave no trouble and was a quiet youth who kept pretty much to himself, she became overcome with grief, bawled out: "Laad God! Wha meck dem haffi do him so?!" when she looked into the coffin.

His neck had been almost severed from his body and nothing the undertakers did was able to mask the huge, angry gash he had running from his shoulder to his neck.

My mother had paid some one to make the dining table with the four new chairs shortly before Paul died and had made it known that the chairs were for her coffin to be placed on when she died as I think in those days you had to pay extra for the contraption that the undertakers placed the coffins on.

Now my mother was a devote Christian and attended Elder Davis' church in Catadupa, therefore we were puzzled, as her funeral service would be held in the church in Catadupa even if she was buried in Belfont and we could not carry the dining table chairs that far. Chairs like those would only be used mainly for funerals that were kept at home when whoever died was not a church goer and a pastor could be found who would accept a 'contribution' to perform the last rites but would not agree for the funeral to be held in their church.

They say sometimes people have goat mouth or maybe my mother, who rarely slept in the last years before her death, might have had some premonition that one of her children would die before she did and that she would bury her cantankerous husband just a year before she too would go to her final rest.

Whatever the reason, the blinking chairs held the coffins of my brother Paul and my father Eustace (Blood) but my mother's coffin never touched them. My two eldest brothers, (One from America and one from Canada) made sure my mother's funeral was done the right way and with help from other members of the family such as my uncles and aunts, gave my mother a proper funeral.

Paul being the ganja smoker that he was and my father being the drunkard bad word cussing sinner that he was, would not have been churched at Elder Davis' church as Paul handn't been to church since he was a baby and I doubt my father had ever been at all, maybe only to get married to my mother. When he was drunk enough, he often cursed my mother for going to Elder Davis church.

From what I heard, Paul's bredren, Doozier, who had been in Westmoreland with him, had something to do with his death. It goes without saying that Doozier is not one of my favourite persons either.

4 comments:

  1. Brings back a lot of memories.. was there as I read..well written.

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  2. Thanks Paul.Thanks for taking the journey home with me. It is a place and time that holds a lot of memories and is a large part of who I am and who I am still striving to become.

    I am happy I could share this with you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  3. Another excellent read which has left me in tears. Paul and the pork incident reminded me of my brother when he went through a phase as a rasta and threw away my mother's pot because she cooked pork in it and that was what he used to cook his greens.

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  4. Thanks Sharon,Good to know you can relate.

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