Multifaceted streams of life offered were categorized in a manner that gives rise to life as its whole. Those of open fields where man and beast basked in the warmth of the island’s sun in a state-like paradise, animals grazing on grass, while the natives looked towards the heavens at trees inundated with birds. There were birds of different species, with plumage, as the identifying marker to its breed. The bird’s routines consisted of flying in formation in and out of treetops as if in a dance, chirping melodies synchronizing with the winds whistling sounds that accompanied. Each show had natives paused at intervals exhaling with the bided breath, quickly turning in observance of such display. It was a spectator sport with unspoken codes, readily understood between man and birds harmoniously in their shared surroundings.
On an average day, sounds of laughter mingled with loud chatter filled the air, a dichotomy of which at times became a reminder of life’s upheavals. Those exchanges would echo screams from a man at odds with a beast; such encounters resulted in a frenzy-like atmosphere. Nevertheless, there was always an effort to restore normalcy in their exchanges. Sometimes, men who failed to see eye to eye were added to that mix, creating another dynamic.
Occasions like those resulting in disputes would foster revenge leading to petty—larceny, a common form of crime. For example, a neighbor would steal the other’s neighbor’s chickens or goat and then feast with it. At times adding insult to injury, the affected party was invited to the gathering, and an ingesting the meal given by the host, they were told the meal they had was their missing chicken or goat. These situations always make for a lively evening, sometimes warranting summoning the police as mediators to stop another crime, one of murder. Those happenings served as bad news throughout the small pockets of communities, and the stream of life continued. And the darker side of life would occasionally rare its head, leaving a strain on where innocence once was shaded by the sex trade.
Seduced by possibilities, evident in Cinderella Island’s magnetism, nature’s foreplay soothed by her beauty left the natives with a thirst for social advancements. The natives sought to satisfy that pang of hunger, the burning desire to self-actualize, stifled by the lack of opportunities, pervasive throughout the island. For those who dreamt beyond their norm, to appease the status quo, they dared not dream out loud. If they did, quickly, they’d learned to recoil, to ensure a continuation of at least a peaceful way of life with their hopes enshrined in the quiet of their soul. Simultaneously, the underbelly of their fear lurked in the seedy side of prostitution, some succumbed, and thank goodness it was seasonal.
At intervals, the island became overrun with sailors off ships docked in its ports. At times, parts of the island were open up like a brothel for those coming off a sexual fast. Military personnel who was fascinated with the beat of the island, on entering its ports, took off scouring the streets and alleyways for a pound of flesh that would satisfy the aching desires stored up in their loins after being out at sea for months without emotional release to the satisfaction of Their lust. Sex had become a commodity of choice and a ready sport where people willingly paid to play, and it even had its loyal followers. And some saw this as a viable income, at which they’d worked diligently during its spell. And others who loathed it but were ardent benefactors sharing in the spoils from those that actively participated.
The island’s underground springs where water gushed from rocks as if supernaturally poured were an attraction. It was believed that the water had healing properties. While in the distance across the island, fruit trees grew wild in abundance. There ripen fruits’ with the smell of their juices, such as mangoes, star-apples, variations of plums, custard apples, rose apples, sour-saps, jackfruits, and many others; birds, animals, and men, at times competed for the pickings.
And oh, those butterflies, they were drawn like magnets to rare fragrant trees during late springs, such as the Lignum Vitae. Observing the mystery of nature at midday of butterflies of every imaginable hue, flying in and around trees in motion that only they understood, watching was as awe-struck to see. It’s those moments that lessen the imperfections experienced in the rugged edges of life’s experiences on the island, in its raw beauty.
Caged by plights beyond one’s control, indicators to life possibilities always kept the natives searching for the game post of life in shifting the dynamics in their favor. And in the hope of hopes, a heart’s desire will shine a light guiding the way forward into the fullness of joy, compliments of life’s validation, which was what one hoped for. To have the life they desire.
Taking a kaleidoscope look at Cinderella Island (Jamaica), reminiscent of yesterday’s mixture of childhood memories, sometimes makes me feel like a jilted lover. Memories seared deep into the subconsciousness stirred by longings of a better time. The plight of stories once shared of lives that hung in the balance, having maintained hope beyond social restraints; recalling unattained dreams still within reach of life’s possibilities make the heart skip-a-beat. However, the heart expands, believing in what’s possible within time in the dawning of a new day.
It’s been almost a lifetime being away from “Jamaica,” my Cinderella Island, and like an absent lover, she occupies a part of my heart. My Cinderella Island is a beauty that cannot be denied; her imagery, and the beat of her pulse, are ever hypnotic within each exchange. So I pay homage to her, my ‘beautiful island you’ll forever be to me, and I’m grateful being a part of your history as you’ll always be a part of mine, my beautiful Jamaica, my love… Marjorie Delores