Rolling Calf




Yuh, yuh, yuh a-ah-affi walk wid m--m-m-ma-matches stick fi throw eena u mout… (You have to walk with a box of matches to throw into your mouth).”


“Smmmmuuuuuurrrrrrr (Hiss teeth). How you lie and wicked suh, Rohan (Why are such a wicked liar, Rohan, pronounced Ruhan)? A fool yuh a try tek mi fah, doan it (You must think I’m a fool).”


I sounded more confident than I felt, but I’m pretty sure my big cousin Rohan knew that I was paralyzed by fear. Now, I was beginning to second guess begging my mother to come to St. Ann.


“Eeenie, meanie, miney mo, wonda which parish me aguh go

School lock, but mommy have work, so...

Eenie, meanie, miney, mo ( This one, this one or that one, I wonder which Jamaican parish I'll go to. School is closed, but my mom has work, so...Which one will I go to).”


The good thing about school breaks and my family was there were so many aunts and uncles. There was literally a buffet of good choices of places to go.


This time around it was summer holidays and I had begged my mom to come to St. Ann, though I was seriously doubting that decision now.


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I had picked St. Ann because of all my cousins. I mean so many cousins. It didn’t really matter that they were all older than me, because I got spoiled dog rotten by all of them: Tracey-Ann, Kevin, Cheryl, Lisa, Rohan, but pronounced Ruhan, and Evan.





Not only were there all these cousins, but there were all these uncles and aunts wid corna shop (who owned small shops). Those small shops meant unlimited supplies of busta, Chippies banana chips, Catch, duplex cookies and as many tuff crackas, bullas, cornbread, bun (famous Jamaican sweets, cookies, crackers and snack pastries) and cheese as my stomach could stand.





As if that wasn’t more than anyone could handle, every one of my aunts and uncles had farms and farm animals, plus we got to go to the river, so I guess even though right now I wasn’t having the best time, you get why I begged to come.





Earlier that morning, I had been in paradise. Today was my third full day on vacation, since my mom and I had traveled from Kingston to St. Ann 2 days before. I was starting to perfect a schedule. I had woken up early, washed my face and brushed my teeth, changed out of my night clothes and then gone to see if anyone else was up.


My big cousin Tracey-Ann and Aunty Jean were always up. I really don't think they ever went to sleep, even though I saw them get ready for bed each night. Really, normally, Aunt Jean was long gone to check on her crops, go to market to sell her produce or whatever else it was that kept her so busy all the time.





Then, I’d be forced to drink some tea by Tracey-Ann and would finally be free to scamper along, down the road, to my grandpa Jacob’s house. Skipping down the red dirt road, I could see the water on all the plants and the darkened color of the dirt because of the morning dew. The heavy fog danced around my pigtails that bounced as I moved.


“Good morning!”


“Mawning (Good morning).”


There weren’t many houses between my Auntie Jean’s and my grandpa Jacob’s house, which is probably why I was allowed to go on my own. Back then, there wasn’t a "good road", so there were few motorists that weren’t on bicycles or a donkey here and there.





Out of breath, I ran into the house happy. I could smell it. I had made it just in time. A little part of me was disappointed I had missed going to milk the cow with him, but I’d gotten there in time nevertheless.


“Pah-pah, which part yuh deh (Grandpa, where are you)?”


So soft you could barely hear it.


“I’m round di back ere, baby (I’m in the back of the house,baby).”


As I rounded the corner, I almost ran in Papa Son, one of my uncles. Yes, his nickname was literally Papa Son, as in Papa’s Son.


“Sorry, uncle.” I gave him a quick hug and kiss and kept moving. I was on a mission. My nose told me it was almost finished.





As I finally brought Papa into my line of sight, bent over the dutch pot, carefully watching the milk fraught and bubble, I started to smile. My grandpa’s jet black, curly hair, earned him the title of coolie or Indian among most Jamaicans. To me, he was just the most soft spoken, gentle person I’d ever known, outside of my mom that is.





“Bring yuh cup come give me, Kim (Go get you cup and bring it to me, Kim).”