Excerpt from a novel in progress – “Bastard Pickney: the Jamaican Journal”


Bastard Pickney: The Jamaican Journal


September 1993




“Daddy! Daddy! Daaa-deeeee!”

I am standing at 10 Hibiscus Drive looking up at the big upstairs-an-downstairs house where my grandmother tell us that my father lives.


Is from before six o’clock mi deh here calling.  Ma throat getting dry.  Nobody not answering mi but ah know that dem deh home.  The light on the fancy verandah an’ the one dem in the front a the house turn on plus mi see a cris BMW cyar park up inna the driveway; Granma tell mi seh that’s what Daddy drive now.  But, guess how mi sure seh dem really in deh? Ah can feel dem watchin mi!

“DADDY!” I shout out much louder this time and the dogs dem start to bark.  Ah know that di neighbor dem might start peeping through dem window to look who is disturbing dem peace and quiet.  I feel bad now as ah look around to see if anybody coming outside; the dogs dem barking like mad like dem si a tief or gunman and suddenly mi feel like m’agoh cry.

Why this have to happen to me? Why I have to be standing outside mi owna father gate inna dew before day on a Monday morning bawling out mi throat-hole to get him attention? Me – Barrington Parker firstborn child.  Me – the one who Hope Town people claim seh a the dead stamp a him.  Why me? Why me, Lord?

Is a simple reason though, enuh.  Ma mother force mi…but, shi didn’t have any other choice…

Today is September six and this suppose to be my first day at Olson High School.  Thank God ah pass for ma first choice! The day when the results come out in the Gleaner, I was so happy and Mummy was so proud ah thought shi was going to burst! Dem print the names of all a the successful candidates dem together soh they had to use extra-fine print to mek everyting hold.  When my mother search the Olson High School list and find “Anita Amanda Parker – Hope Town Primary School”, you woulda think is God come the way how shi gwaan.  Shi run out into the lane wid the newspaper an call all a wi neighbor dem outta dem house!  When dem hear the news, Miss Dassa and Miss Tiny dem lift mi up inna the sky! An Sister May – one woman who goh to Captain poco church – grab mi an spin mi roun an roun – seh mi must tun mi roll.  Dem create one whole heap a excitement! Gee wheez! That was the happiest day of ma whole ten years on earth!


Everybody was so glad for mi especially when they found out that ah pass for Olson High.  Out of the ten a wi that live on Hope Town Street who take Common Entrance, I was the only one who pass for a high-mark school.  Everybody know that only the brightest children can get into Olson.  From I was likkle-likkle, ah want to go there.  Olson always win everyting.  Dem win the Spelling Bee trophy ten years straight.  They are the reigning School’s Challenge Quiz champions.  Dem win debating; dem win inna basketball, neck-ball, football, cricket, tennis an dem always come in the Top Five inna High School Champs! Is a school that many other school bad mind; some people all seh dem must ban Olson from all competition an mek other school get a chance fi win to.  Dem lucky!

“Daddy! DA-DD-HEYYYY!”

After me an ma mother went to the Orientation last month, I realize that it is a really nice place too.  They have swimming pool, and basketball, neck-ball and tennis court.  An dem have a nice, big field with a nice, smooth running track.  They have fancy canteen and fancy library and fancy auditorium.  All gym dem have with whole heap a weights and treadmill and soh. The school building dem look nice; the wall dem paint in bright blue and white to match our uniform and dem have brand new desk inside the classroom dem and the bathroom dem clean-clean too! Not like at Hope Town Primary whey the nasty pickney dem wet up di floor dem, leave the toilet dem full up a doo-doo an pee-pee; wipe dem bottom with dem finger an’ smear up the wall dem; throw wet tissue pon the ceiling and write up-write up whole heap a bad word pon the wall dem! It is easy to tell that is pure decent pickney go to Olson High…but, most of them look like them come from uptown.

I come from ghetto but none a them don’t better than me.  Them cyaan test me inna schoolwork, me know that! I never do a test and get less than ninety per cent yet! People always seh mi bright because mi read soh much. Yes, is true – I read a lot; ah always have a book with me everywhere ah go.  That is Mummy fault.  Shi get pregnant with ma big sister before shi finish Fourth Form but she herself read whole heap.  Soh shi always buy book for us whenever shi find a little extra money or when wi birthday or crismus come.


Mummy always tell wi seh “Education is the key”.  Shi drum it into me and Tabitha head morning, noon and night: “Education is the key! Education is the key!” Soh me always a read everything mi catch; Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys; Sweet Valley Twins; Enid Blyton; Judy Blume; Harriet the Spy.  Mi read Archie, X-men and Marvel comics; Observer, Gleaner, Teen Herald, Children’s Own, Star and mi all hide and read X-News too and ah even tek Mummy Mills-an-Boon, Silhouette and Harlequin romance novel dem and read dem when shi deh a work.  I join Tom Redcam Library and mek sure to goh there every Saturday.  Mi sit down for hours sometime and goh through the Encyclopaedia dem and mi read down to mi Oxford Dictionary.  Tabitha always a tease mi seh no book not too small or too big for Anita Parker.

And, yuh see when ah reach Grade 5 and start preparing for Common Entrance, is the same attitude ah apply to ma studying.  Ah spend hours revising the notes that Miss Edwards give us, me and ma two best friend dem – Michelle and Tameka.  Wi goh to each other house and wi look over the past paper dem dat Miss give us and wi practice to do the questions.  And wi goh Tom Redcam and duh plenty-plenty research too.

And God mek all ma hard work pay off…I’m going to the best school in Jamaica now!

Ah couldn’t wait to start ma new life at Olson but when ah si the look on ma mother face when shi open the envelope that contain the book list and other school requirements, ma glad-bag burst…

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