The thunderous beat of dancehall blasting from speakers. Selecta pull up dat! Go deh Mi gyal! Watch yah noooowww!
The cool and easy sway of lover’s rock.
Ackee and saltfish. Sorrel. Green, yellow, and black. Out of many, one people.
Black cake. Devon House ice cream. Coodeh! Niyabingi. Natural beauty.
The raucous voices of women in the market. Tourists toasting on the beach. Dunns River falls. Treasure Beach. Nuff struggle but we know how to relax. Life hard but we stay strong.
Conch shells. My grandmother saying “who cyan hear mus’ feel” or “What sweet nanny goat a go run him belly” and so many more. Clear blue waters. Bright colors. Cricket matches.
Dettol and Horlicks. Jerk chicken. Hear her nuh, “Sweetie, yuh can go by Missa Chin and buy mi a ting nuh?” Phrased like a question but really an order. Kiss teeth but not too loud. Going by Missa Chin. Coming back an hour later because mi “love chat”. Hear her nuh, “what tek yuh so long, mi start fret!”
Just smile and hand her the package.
Anansi story. Hosay. Roti. Dem man calling “Coolie gyal!” and me remembering they’re talking about me.
TVJ. Sunday morning and she asking “yuh nah go a church?” Trying to explain, I’m Muslim now. And no, dat nuh mean seh mi tun Arab, cha! She clutch her Bible and kiss her teeth…loud.
Home. Warmth. A place where I can feel like myself. A little strange but mi deh yah. Touching down and throwing off my American accent. Finding my voice again. It come back easy easy.
Politics. “So you family live in JLP area?” What dat have to do
with me? Mi live a farrin’. Taxi driver shouting, “London!, Sav! Grange!” and in he same breath whispering “sexy gyal”.
Passing by dem man on the corner hearing a faint whisper of ‘angel’ or ‘sweetness’. As I cross the road, “weh yuh man miss lady? Gimme a bly nuh.” Trying not to smile but thinking,
you gotta love Jamaican man.
Always making sure mi behave like “me have mannas“. Saying “good evening” or “good night” when I call or enter the room.
Remembering not to drink straight from bottle– ‘like some common gyal’. Press out yuh clothes. Always wear a slip under yuh frock. Don’t go near dem wutless bwoy. Find a respectable, decent man like Miss Mavis son, yuh hear mi gyal?
Johnny cake. Doctor bird. Easter bun.
Oh, how I could go on. But this is what comes to mind when I think of Jamaican culture!