Not all was lost at St. Christopher’s Anglican Primary School, I had a partner in crime with the exact same situation, and many friends that I continue to call friends today. With the exception of some teachers, we had fun, fought, shared food, played sports, had fleeting romances and spent countless hours enjoying the time off during the summer months, excessive holidays, and the carnival seasons. One thing about Trinidad, they will celebrate, take off work, close school, and shut down businesses for holidays. I could respect that, and it’s one of the things that I grew to love.
I don’t remember the day I met Tiana, all I know was that her accent sounded a bit like my own, a mix of North America and Trinidadian, but she was Canadian, and her attitude of giving no fucks matched mine. I loved her instantly. I remember walking past her house that was in many stages of being built on my way home from school. I just knew it was going to be a mansion, and wow, they have a daughter in the yard and some boys. Hopeful that my younger brother Marcus could find a few new friends, currently his sole obsession was the overweight guinea pig and the birds he nurtured in boxes in his bedroom. He wasn’t likely to start a riot like his sister, he was soft hearted and took much needed time and attention to tend to his animals. If he had become a veterinarian I wouldn’t have been surprised, he loved caring for birds with “broken wings”, and since he could fix anything mechanical at a young age, I think in his mind he could nurse his friends back to good health. Sometimes it worked, other times they ran away or died, and we had to hold a full funeral ceremony and begin the process again with his next animal emergency.
As much as my brother frustrated me with his lack of desire to wreak havoc, you couldn’t bother him because then you had a problem with me. I wouldn’t blink about dragging you across the dirt and punching you right in the face. He was taunted excessively in school, and I think that caused him to seek the kindness of animals who didn’t judge. But I’ve always known he was a genius, he could draw, paint, fix electronics, cars, and was an animal whisperer, so I felt it was my duty to blacken a few eyes of anyone who thought it was ok to bother him. They didn’t want to deal with me, and I happily shared out ass whippings like peas to anyone who dared to touch him. On more than one occasion I dragged him back to school to point out who fattened his lip, and quickly returned the favor.
Tiana was open to a friendship and was my equal as a tomboy, we filled the days behind her house, discussing our disdain for school and our shared hatred for Mackie and Bon! There wasn’t a boy we wouldn’t fight, a game of cricket we wouldn’t join, and a bike we wouldn’t pick up and ride off on! We loved roaming abandoned houses and jumping drains, but most of all hot snacks and trips to the parlor. We suffered through Saturday lessons, all the while rolling our eyes and thinking about what we would rather be doing and wondering if we would be harassed by the Wharwood twins on our walk home. I still chat with Tiana almost daily, we discuss everything going on in the world as we did as children and when I need to know what’s going on in Trinidad, she’s my first contact via WhatsApp.
Coreen and Colette lived next door and I would learn later that they were cousins of Tiana. They had the biggest German shepherd I had ever seen, Jasper and most importantly, a plum and mango tree that fell partially in my yard. It was here we built our friendship, me waiting for someone to climb that tree or walk in the back so I could go outside and chat. It was here I learned much about island life, it’s amazing what preteens can discuss over changes in fruit seasons. I loved the Antonio family. Gran was always kind and offered food, she was Chinese and fried a mean 5 spiced chicken whole, had I been old enough, that was a recipe I would have asked for. I loved to see her laugh because she did it in expression only, no sound. Mr Antonio was always smiling, he reminded me of my own grandfather, not because they resembled one another but I missed my grandfather and he shared mannerisms, especially how he showed love to his grandchildren.
We all walked to school together most days, but Coreen was a year older, and would soon be off to Fyzabad Composite after her fight with Common Entrance. Coreen was always a light for me, a Seven Day Adventist, she invited me to church, and camping trips with her family and congregation. I grew to know her sisters, cousins and many friends. I knew nothing of being an Adventist, but I enjoyed the youth trips that included many late night adventures on the beach, camping in poorly constructed tents, and being lost in the bush on many occasions. To this day we continue to share a friendship and when I was stationed in North Dakota, she lived in Winnipeg and we were able to see each other again. Our friendship is one built on love, and we understand that the distance between us is simply nothing more than miles. Coreen made my life in Trinidad bearable on many hard days, and I will love her always.
Much Love from the brown girl, sharing short stories for Blogtober, keep writing, even if no one is reading❤️
Nyri~The Unnerved Traveler