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M. J. Bascombe

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By M. J. Bascombe
Sunday, April 26, 2009

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"Sometimes you need to go back, to find out how to go forward"

As morning broke and the first ray of sunlight peaked over the mountain top, it began.
One by one and then in sequence, the roosters began to crow their melody while the birds pitched their own verse. It almost sounded like a symphony except for when the dogs intruded with their often loud angry bursts.
It had become a morning ritual that Leslie hated as she pulled the pillows over her face and sighed.
“These darn chickens or fowls or whatever they call them!
“Every morning, is the same thing!”
“I want to go home!”
She fumed under the sheets.
“What the hell are they yapping about this hour of the morning, when people should be sleeping!”
She slammed her fists on the sheets as she lay hoping that someone would put her out of her misery and shoo the early risers away. Nonetheless, it signalled that another day was here and she needed to get out of bed.

No sooner had she thought it than her mother shouted at her to get out of bed.
“Time to get up, honey”, the elder woman shouted.
“Mom”, there is no school today”
It’s Sunday, remember?”
Leslie argued her point but knew she would have to get up because very soon her mother would come marching through that door yelling.
“You are no longer in the United States, missy. In Trinidad, we are up at the crack of dawn!” She could hear the words ringing in her head as she rolled her eyes.
“Gosh, I wish Dad had kept me with him in the United States, she often thought.
Leslie had returned to her native island of Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. A small twin island far south of the United States where she had spent the last ten of her fifteen year life. Her grandmother had passed away over a year ago and her mother decided to quit her job and bundle Leslie and herself back to Trinidad.
Sometimes she wondered why her mother had moved her back here. It had only been six months since they arrived in Trinidad but she was ready to go back to Detroit where she enjoyed her life; school, friends and shopping!
On this little island, were mosquitoes, flies, ants, people who spoke with an accent she could hardly understand most of the times and boy was it hot!
“It was like living in a furnace every day!
Nice to visit once in a while, but not to live!” She thought.
It was not like the US in so many ways, but she knew that her mother was not happy in Detroit. She worked long hours, had two jobs and tried to provide for both herself and Leslie even though Leslie’s father supported his daughter, giving her whatever she asked for.
Her mother often objected saying that he spoiled her but Leslie always found a way to get what she wanted.
Her father had remarried after his divorce to her mother four years ago and maybe it was his way of trying to be close to Leslie and she welcomed it.
She did not want to be in Trinidad but figured that it would just be a matter of time before she returned to Detroit because she would be applying for college soon.
As she dragged herself out of the bed and walked towards the kitchen, she fretted.
“Mom, it’s like after six in the morning, most people in the “U.S.” are still sleeping!
“There isn’t any school today, why do I have to get up?”
“This is so not fair! Leslie protested.
“You kids today”. You don’t know the meaning of hard work and sacrifices”
“You sleep until its noon, eat like your “fridge” is always full and have no responsibility!”
“Come, let’s go outside”
It always amazed Leslie how strong her mother’s Caribbean accent became when she was quarrelled.
“Mom”..Leslie protested.
She reluctantly followed her mother through the glass sliding doors and on to the balcony.
“Come sweetheart”.”Let me show you something”.
Her mother’s voice as gentle and nurturing.
She pointed around the neighbourhood as she spoke.
“You may not understand now, why I brought you back to Trinidad”.
“You may think that I took you back to “the bush”, but I brought you home”. “This is where you were born”. “This is where you spent the first five years of your life, where you played with your friends, where you went to school even”. “You may not remember because it was so long ago, but you used to come in the kitchen to watch me make “bake and sausages” in the morning and jump into your father’s lap”.
“I look at you now”. “A young girl very much into what life has become,” she said as she laughed.
“And what is that Mom?” She looked up at her mother and could not help but smile; the tall, dark skinned elder lady had a hearty laugh when she was happy.
Leslie’s mother continued to speak to her.
“You cannot identify with Trinidad and that is partly my fault” “I should have brought you back here more often to see your family and spend time where I grew up”. “I thought that because you were very young you would not have remembered the place. I was wrong to keep you from your homeland and your family.
”I want you to be happy sweetheart”. “There are many things that I did not have while I was growing up but I always had my family”. “I don’t want you to take life and all that you have for granted”.
As Leslie listened to her mother, she saw something that she had not noticed before and she felt somewhat guilty. Her mother looked at peace with herself. She had not seen her look like that in a long time.
She remembered a mother who was always fretting about something or someone.
Now, she laughed more and was quieter in her tone. She looked relaxed and happy
“You really love this place don’t you, Mom?”
“Yes, this is home,” her mother replied.
“I knew I would return here eventually but kept delaying it, wanting to make enough money before I returned”. “It is why I stayed for so many years.”
“Mom brought me back though”.
“Spending all that time here in Trinidad, while she was ill and then for the funeral, made me realise that I needed to move back here and quickly”.
“I am sorry if you sometimes feel that I dragged you away from your life In Detroit, but you I wanted you to experience this before you go off to college”.
“Here, people work and they work hard”. “Look down the hill”.
“Miss Marjorie wakes up 5am every morning and she plays gospel music”. “Whether it is a Monday or a Sunday, she plays it and we all wake up to it”. “That is what I remember life as, growing up as a child”.
“Soon Mr Mayers will come down from the hills where he tends to his garden every morning and he will share his fruits and vegetables with the neighbours”. “That is how you should live with your neighbours, darling”.
“I know that everything is not as it was before; time has passed and people have changed”.
“Not so much though because the “old time” folks will keep some aspects of “Trinidad life” alive as generations pass and new ones begin.
“This is why I knew that I had to bring you back here”.
“You can travel the world Leslie and I want that for you, but never forget home; it is where your life began”.
As they stood on the balcony watching at the children play outside and the older ones return from the local markets, Leslie’s mother smiled at her.
Young men were busy cleaning the yard and yes, as her mother predicted, Mr. Mayers returned from his garden and he waved to them as he passed.
Leslie finally understood what her mother was trying to tell her. She looked up at her and smiled as she hugged her tighter.

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Reviewed by TOMMY STYLES 5/10/2009
Love it. Nice ending. Good writing.
Reviewed by Jackie (Micke) Jinks 5/3/2009
What a delightful story, M.J.! You explained the strength and intent of the mother, and the final understanding of the daughter that Home is where we develop a love of life. Well done.
Blessings - Micke

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