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Ask any boy, and dare I say girl too, growing up in the Caribbean during the 1960s and he/she’d tell you how giddy he/she felt about the thought of migrating to America, Canada or England. I was no exception. I was so excited when I received the acceptance letter from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, that I didn’t bother to wait to see if I’d been accepted likewise by the University of Toronto, or any of the other universities I applied to. I immediately sent off my acknowledgement letter and began making preparations to leave Grenada.
The truth is I did not yearn to go to study elsewhere as much as I yearned to just leave Grenada. I yearned for a change of pace. My spirit yearned for a change in scenery that I wasn’t finding in Grenada, and truthfully did not offer. Perhaps if I owned a car I might have temporarily delayed that desire by exploring the too many parts of Grenada I simply never visited, and some I never knew even existed. But, don’t get me wrong, I certainly loved my homeland and of course my beloved hometown, Gouyave, otherwise why I would sing its praises and honor its people in my first book, "A PLACE CALLED GOUYAVE"? But there was that thing in me that kept commanding me to “go yonder young man, and see what else is out there.” I obeyed its command!
Quite honestly, I had no idea what line of studies I was going to pursue. It was much easier for me to tell what I did not want, rather than what I actually wanted. All I knew was that I did not want to stay in Grenada anymore. I could have followed my older brother and migrated to London, England as he was ready for my coming. But the more I heard about Shepherd’s Bush, the less enthusiasm I mustered for it. I did not want to be in a Gouyave abroad when I heard about West Indian life in London. I had enough of it in the real Gouyave, and was not prepared to exchange it for one abroad. I wanted a real change and studying in Canada, especially a little- known town like Hamilton, Ontario, suited me just fine to experience that change in a strange land.
There were regrets I had, though. I was leaving my dear mother who was very sick the night before I left home. I was also leaving behind two young sons whose growing up I knew I would not be a part of. I was leaving behind a girl who I could not bear the thought of being separated from. So I almost changed my mind for those three main reasons. But that continuous gnawing in my chest yearning to experience something different was far too strong to let anything stand in its way. So I bid its call!!
When I told the news to my brother-in-law and the rest of the gang with whom I enjoyed playing cards like All-Fours regularly, they warned me that going abroad meant that soon I would be smoking cigarettes and drinking as much as they did during our card sessions. I responded that as much as I could, smoking and drinking would never be a part of my life. That’s not to say that I never drank liquor. I did, but it was always well-diluted with Coca Cola, or some other soft drink. While they drank the hard rum, sometimes without any chaser, I chose mostly instead to drink an occasional Guinness stout or my favorite chocolate drink, C-C-Mel!! It made no difference whether it was Phoenix or whichever cigarette that was available, my mind was firmly made up that I was not going to be kissing any girl, especially my love, with yellow-stained teeth in addition to the stench of cigarettes on my breath. It’s been since September of 1967, and I have yet to fall victim to any of the predictions that those guys in my brother-in-law’s rum shop made.
Despite her condition, my mother joined us in the car that took us to Pearls Airport. Pearls in the north-eastern part of Grenada, was located in the parish of St. Andrew’s. It was big enough to allow only small propeller airplanes to land and take-off. So off we flew to Barbados’s Grantley Adams Airport to catch the Pan-am 707 jet that was bounded for New York City.
Boarding that small plane was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. It had nothing to do with its size. In fact that was all I had ever seen up close and personal. It was hard for me because I was leaving behind all the things that I had grown accustomed to and taken for granted. There wasn't going to be any Spread-Joy and Doh-Laff and Census and the rest of those loveable characters to go paly football with in Windsor Park. I couldn't think of a secluded beach in Canada like 3rd Benago to spend a Sunday afternoon lazily hanging out or just making out with my girl. Besides, I could see that my mother was still under the weather but she pushed me to go, anyway. My girl and I clung to each other as though we could not be torn apart as if to imply that it would not be too long before we would once again be reunited. It was a difficult moment, but there was no turning back now. I waved as I walked up the gang-way to take my seat in the plane.
(BUT There Was no turning back now.I waved as I walked up the gang-way to take my seat in the plane) (SIGH) Is it to be Continued ?? MAYBE Later in d next possible A PLACE CALLED GOUYAVE PT.2 (LOL)
Maybe, Melo, maybe. But there is only one book named A PLACE CALLED GOUYAVE. You can bet on it that there won't be any sequel 1 or 2 or 3. If a new book does come out, it definitely will have its own different title. No piggybacking!!
I AM JUST IN THE PROCESS OF FINISHING YOUR BOOK A PLACE CALLED GOUYAVE . AND IT IS SO HILARIOUS ESPECIALLY AS I KNOW SOME OF THE CHARACTERS - IT IS WELL WRITTEN AND LEFT TO ME I WILL USE IT IN THE SCHOOLS IN GRENADA AS A LITERATURE BOOK - LOOKING FORWARD TO READING YOUR NEXT BOOK MAYBE - GOOD LUCK
That was rather nice of you Sheilagreasleyrush, thanks for the compliment. I hope it won't be too long before you are in a position to be able to "use A PLACE CALLED GOUYAVE in the schools in Grenada as a literature book."(lol). Btw, quite a few others have made similar comments and one in particular is trying make it come true. But as we in Gouyave used to say "you know how dem ting does go." We are still waiting!
As for that next book, it is still in the "maybe" stage. The excerpt that you've read is more or less the direction and the spirit I hope it will be embodied in if there is going to be that "next one."
Just out of curiosity, I gather that you are from Gouyave. Are you related to the Greasley family that used to live on Lower Depradine Street? You can reply to firstname.lastname@example.org if you choose. It would be nice hearing from you.