Between the ages of 8 and 10, so from about 1971 to 1973, my family lived in Jamaica. My father was a radiologist and worked for two years at the University Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. As a child, I remember the time fondly. My sister and I went to a wonderful school there and made good friends both at our school and with kids who lived in our neighbourhood. I remember being allowed to stay up late when my parents had parties, standing at the gate of our house (for some reason), listening to music watching everyone chatting inside.
A few years after returning to the UK, I was given a homework assignment which made me think back to our time in Jamaica. My mother liked it so much that she kept a copy of the essay. While I was back in Bristol last year when my father passed away, my mother gave me a copy of the piece that I wrote.
I share it below. I have not corrected spelling or grammar, just left it 'as is'. It was written remembering times spent on the north coast while we lived on the island.
Jamaica Morning, June 1977
Yesterday's hot ninety degree sun has gone; I find, as I open the window, and a cool moist feeling envelops me. The grass and earth look wet, and a shade darker, as though a paint brush has been over them and they are still wet. It is so quiet that you can almost hear the silence. Then, you suddenly become conscious of a distant waterfall, making a noise like the wind rushing through trees; never stopping. Something else catches your eye, and the noise of the waterfall vanishes from your mind. It's a fishing boat; bobbing up and down on the almost calm water; so calm that from the house it looks like a window. Another boat rows past the house; its oars lapping the water. A fisherman says something; another one answers, then there's quiet. Small waves break on the beach below. Their noise is barely a splash, but like a small breeze, slowly fading into the distance, and then starting up again.
All of a sudden the silence is broken by the white egrits, as they leave the trees where they have been resting for the night, and go flying off; probably never returning until the evening. Some of the birds, though, seem reluctant to go. They fly off their part of the tree and land somewhere else. However, within half an hour they have gone, the only evidence that they have been, is a white patch on the trees.
The sun is now beginning to appear over the trees. Its body guards of yellows and oranges rise up with it, slowly leaving as it gets to its throne in the sky. A fountain, that has just been dripping like a tap for the night, is now switched on, its noise, like the wind rushing through the trees; you soon become conscious of it.
Downstairs, there is the noise of people moving around. Doors creaking; people's feet patting backwards and forwards as they prepare the breakfast. A gardener walks across the lawn, looks up, smiles, waves and walks on. He's got everything worked out for the day; nothing must hold him up.
I look across to the beach across the bay. Two people are cleaning it up. They look rather vague as they work. I sit and stare; wondering. I hear something in the back of my head: but I couldn't care. Someone touches me on the shoulder. I jump out of my trance.
"Breakfast is ready."
"Coming," I replied.