A Middle Finger to Common Entrance
The creative writing God’s served me up with a blessing on the day of testing. I don’t know the question that anyone else had, but mine allowed me to write in vivid details, my challenges of reverse migration. I also found the assessment as a whole, not that difficult. Despite my repeated visits to the bathroom, a condition that I continue to suffer with to this very day if I am taking a test, I was relatively calm. Once I opened the test booklet and saw the first few questions, my anxiety and fear subsided, and I focused on doing the best I possibly could.
With the test completed we all exhaled and got down to the business of getting ready for sports day, school bazaars, and all of the things that we looked forward to enjoying before we had to disperse once the school year ended. Unlike here in the US, where you attend your neighborhood elementary, middle and high school, in Trinidad you might pass for a school in Port of Spain and now you spend countless hours traveling or move in with a relative in that area to lessen the time and cost of traveling. Friends who live next door or up the road that you saw on a daily basis, might now only be seen on weekends and holidays. This would be the last few months that you could guarantee the daily shenanigans with your crew, so we had to maximize the experience and relish in that excitement!
If I had a feather I would have knocked Mackie and Bon down when they read the name of the school I passed for, the well respected Palo Seco Government Secondary also known as Palo. The nerve of me not to be a complete dunce, the test must have been incorrect, or maybe I was given a different version. The truth is, I outsmarted myself with how I picked my desired schools. After taking the test, I am most certain I would have passed for one of the more prestigious high schools but I had no desire to attend them, I didn’t want to spend my day on a maxi traveling to and from school only to come home and study half the night, what was the fun in that? Plus, my friends who were a year older, were either at the same school, lived close, or we continued to see each other daily as we walked to the taxi stand and waited for the cars playing the hardest Chinese laundry mix, with the best looking drivers, and passengers.
You needed to be seen riding in a black car, preferably up front, and not squished if the car was packed to capacity with three other students up front and six in the back. Yes, this was risking life, but nothing mattered more than being seen in the newest cars lips moving to the hottest tunes. Coming home was the same, you got out in town just to see who was liming (chilling out for you non triini’s), who you could walk home with, or what guy you secretly loved that you might cross paths with and he provided teenage sweet talk as you blushed to your gate and the raised brows of your neighbors. For me, at that time, it was Denzil Harris. Tall, funny, handsome, dark skin that was smooth and the most beautiful set of white teeth when he smiled. I didn’t know anything about swag, but I knew he had whatever it is that I was looking for. Every now and then I got lucky and Denzil walked me home, and trust me, you could tell me nothing.
Palo was old, a collection of wooden buildings that linked in a circle with bathrooms and sinks in between. It leaked when it rained and most days we had little or no water at all. This was a running joke, many days we were sent home due to lack of water, overflowing toilets, and unsanitary conditions. But the teaching staff was top notch, I simply didn’t understand why more effort wasn’t invested in updating or at best, maintaining the buildings. I’ve been told that to this very day, the issues of lacking water continue, even with a new building. It was at Palo that I began to enjoy school, had teachers who were excellent, explored extracurricular activities and even started learning more about African culture through dancing. I loved the costumes and moving my body to drum beats seemed as normal as walking. In class I never came first or got straight A’s, but my academic performance was consistent and I always stayed in the top 15 of my classmates, 8th and 13th seemed to be my magic numbers.
Palo days were fun days, the ladies who sold food outside of the gate in the mornings and during lunch had some of the best hops bread and stew chicken you could find. On the occasion we had school lunch that included roti, even better! We laughed, mocked our principle, kept snide remarks about our history teacher with the long jerry curl and made the most of no water dismissals. Had I known these would be some of my fondest school memories I would have cherished them more.
Much love from the brown girl, sharing short stories for Blogtober. Keep writing, even if no one is reading! ❤️
Ny~The Unnerved Traveler