FEATURED STORY

“Who Can’t Hear Must Feel!”

© 2006 Norman Samuda-Smith

 

WHO CAN’T HEAR MUST FEEL!”  How much time yuh hear yuh mom and dad seh dat to you when you was a yout?  Nuff time enit?  Do you remember when they used to tell you; “DON’T DO DIS! – DON’T DO DAT! – DON’T TOUCH DIS! – DON’T TOUCH DAT!” and you, the mischievous child, run off and do the complete opposite to what dem tell you?  Well sekkle steady, warm and easy, and listen to dis likkle tale…

In the inner-city suburb of Small Heath Birmingham, live two likkle yout man name Wendell and Leroy, they were born in England of Jamaican parents.  They live in a flat above their mother’s hair boutique, which she and her younger sister Maud, work hard to run six days a week.  Now her shop stand up on one busy main road where bus and car run up and down day and night; and in fear of de boys being killed by one of dem vehicle, their mother always seh to dem…

            “Don’t play out on the street, play in de back yard where it safe yuh understand?”

            “Well how come our friends can go to the park by demself and kick football Mom?”

            “Me nuh care what yuh friend dem do.  Dat is fe dem and dem parent’s bizniz!  What me and yuh Father seh goes yuh understand?”

            “Ah Mom!  That ain’t fare man!”

Dis backyard have a history.  Wendell and Leroy’s parents move in dis house twelve months before when they was six and seven.  The neighbours on each side of dem own an Alsatian dog; one name Prince, the other one call Rover and  bwoy, the way they used to bark and carry on, was like they just come out the wild the other day!  Anyway, when the boys first come out to explore their new garden, Prince and Rover jump pon the six foot fence barkin and growlin, it come like, if they did scale the fence, they woulda nyam up the poor pickney dem. Yuh shoulda see Wendell and Leroy run to their back door faster than Don Quarrie yellin and baalin…

            “Mommy, Mommy the daagy dem gwine bite us!”

Nuff time, Jean would go roun and complain to her neighbours, bout how dem could allow dem dog to grow wild; and it was reveal in one ah dem cussin session dat Prince was never take fe a walk since it was a puppy!  So all Jean’s cussin was in vain.

After a couple of weeks of livin in fear, the bwoys come to realise dat Prince and Rover can’t jump the fence like their pet cat Smokey.  Coz it so happm dat one day, when they was lookin out dem dining-room window, which have a clear view of Prince back yard; they see Smokey creep cross the yard while Prince was busy chewin him bone.  When Prince see Smokey, he rush at him.  Now most cat woulda run fe cover, but no, not Smokey, he just stand firm and stare Prince in him eye.  Then like Mohammed Ali, Smokey side step him wid ease.  Prince run past him slippin and slidin as he try fe turn himself aroun and do another run; but by the time he was ready fe come again, Smokey done scurry up the fence leavin him standin.  Now wid dat bit of inspiration guidin dem, Wendell and Leroy start to play in their yard again.

In the back yard, they used to play Batman and Robin, Superman, imitated Spiderman by climbin the tree nuff time, and when they get bored wid playin super-heroes; they would sometime kick their neighbours fences, teasin Prince and Rover to jump, bark and growl; then they would throw stones at dem head when they appear, hittin their targets most of the time.  Then the neighbours would come round and complain to Jean bout the cuts and bruises Prince and Rover have, and they would accuse her sons of throwin stones.

            “Listen me now.  My bwoys don’t trow stones!  They know if I catch dem doin dat, I would give dem a good hidin’!  Guh blame it pon the other neighbour pickney, it must be dem who doin it, not my bwoys!”

Now when Wendell and Leroy turn seven and eight years old, they was gettin fed up of bein lock up in the back yard all the time.  Sometime Jean would send dem to the shop two doors away so dat they could buy some sweets and ting, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy dem.  What they really want to do was go to the corner shop dat was closer to Grange Road Park where their friends usually hang out and play football.  So they decide dat a way of gettin out was to scrounge more pocket money from Jean and persuade her to let dem go ah the corner shop by demself.

            “No, I will go wid yuh!”

            “But mom, we know how t’cross the road by ourself.”

            “Me seh no!”

            “Aahh go on Mom please!”

            “Alright, but be careful fe God sake!”

            “YYYEEEHHH!”

Now we know how mischievous yout and yout can be, these two was no exception.  They would use these trips to the corner shop as cover fe visitin Grange Road Park.  Dis coulda turn out to be a serious ting if they didn’t watch the time.  Usually they would get away wid half-an-hour or so, but sometime the attractions of the park would lead dem to be careless.  Like one time right, Jean give dem some money fe go ah the corner shop and she seh to dem…

            “Mind how unu cross de road yuh hear me? And after unu buy unu sweets, come straight home, yuh understand me?”

            “Yes Mommy,” they seh to her.

And they run gone ah the shop.  On their way back, they decide fe make a detour through the park in the hope of seein some their friends fe a likkle while.  Once inside the park, dem jump pon the swing, dem spin pon the roundabout, dilly-dally pon the see-saw and they kick a likkle football til they realise dat…

            “OH KNOW!  Is two hours since we leave home.  Mommy must be wonderin where we deh!”

So in dem panic, they run home expectin Jean to be there waitin fe give dem a spankin.  Lucky fe dem, she was too busy workin in the shop to realise how long they was gone.  Sometime they would get some serious licks for goin to the park without Jean permission, but the growin urge fe freedom mek the risks seem small yuh nuh.  

So, ah so it go.  Nearly every day durin school holiday and weekends when the sun decide fe smile pon Birmingham, and their sweet shop escape route was cut off; they climb the one tree nuff time, play super-heroes and trow stones at Prince and Rover.

Now tings come to a point where they was desperate fe ideas fe games and was gettin sick of the sight of each other, when on Wendell’s ninth birthday, Uncle Isaac buy him a cricket bat and wickets, but not a real cricket ball.  He seh to dem…

            “Unu gwine strike the ball like Gary Sobers one day yuh nuh, and unu might break a few window, so me buy unu a tennis ball instead.  Hee, ketch!”

So every day dem play cricket, Leroy bein the older one, always win.

One summer mornin, their Auntie Maud, come round to the house dwellin in fits of hysterical cryin.  It so happm dat her fourteen year old daughter Jennifer decide to run away from home due to one domestic argument.  Jean decide dat the conversation which was about to take place, was not for Wendell and Leroy to sit in and listen to…

            “Unu guh play outside,” she seh to dem.

The bwoys leave the room and they decide fe listen at the door as their grievin Auntie Maud describe the events leadin up to Cousin Jennifer’s disappearance…

            “Lord me God Jean, me nuh know wha fe do!” Auntie Maud sniffle.

            “Is alright Maud, don’t fret yuhself.  Come we guh use the car and see if we can find her.”

Auntie Maud agreed wid dat.  So Jean grab her car keys then open the dining room window and shout to the bwoys…

            “WENDELL AND LEROY!”

            “YES MOMMY!”

            “UNU COME INSIDE NOW!”

When Wendell and Leroy reach inside, Jean seh to dem.

            “You two stay inside, me and yuh Aunt Maud is goin out fe bout an hour.”

            “Can we play outside then mom?”

            “No!” Jean reply.

            “Why not?”

            “In case unu hurt unu self out deh.”

            “We won’t.”

            “Me seh stay inside til me come back, and don’t answer the door to any stranger!”  Jean and Auntie Maud leave the house fe guh find Jennifer. 

Now Wendell and Leroy was in the middle of one grippin cricket game the day before, but play was abandoned coz they had to come in for dinner.  Wendell wanted desperately to finish off the game coz he was a couple of runs behind Leroy on him last innings; whereas Leroy had no innings leave and had two more overs to bowl.  Dis was the first time dat Wendell have the chance to beat him bigger brother, so yuh nuh, pride was at stake.  After careful reasonin bout whether they should resume play or not, they take a chance and go outside to finish off the game…

Leroy bowl him first over wickedly, forcin Wendell to make defensive strokes – maiden over.  On the third ball of his last over, he catch Wendell leg before wicket.

            “OWWZZAT!” Leroy bawl.

            “NO WAY…!” Wendell rebel.

            “Ah c’mon man yuh out!”

            “No I ain’t, that was way off target man!”

            “Yuh cheatin now Wendell.”

            “Cha, jus bowl man!”

            “No, yuh out, new game, my innins now!”

Wendell get vex now, he trow down the bat and run to the back door.  He decide dat he was goin to lock Leroy out.  Leroy suss what him likkle brother was goin to do and start chase him.  When Wendell run inside, he let down de latch of the lock, and in him vexation and anxiety to stop Leroy gettin in, he slam de door shut.  When he do dat, his right hand went straight through one of the frosted glass panes.  Leroy see de glass break, it scare him.

            “Open the door Wendell.”

Wendell open the door, Leroy walk in the house careful and stare at the broken fragments of glass, wonderin how tings was goin to be explain. Wendell was busy starin at the cuts on him wrist dat was stingin him some bad way.

            “You alright?”

            “No it stings.”

            “Put some water on it.”

Wendell put him wrist under the pipe of cold runnin water.  The cut dem start to bleed and Wendell start cry coz he never see so much blood before. Leroy start cry too when all him effort to try and calm Wendell down was in vain.  Jean walk through de door exactly on de hour as promise.  Leroy have guilt write all over him face, but Wendell was well please to see her.

            “What happen?” Jean ask slappin the two of dem.

A tearful Wendell and Leroy explain to her wha gwaan…

            “Didn’t I tell unu not to play outside til me come back?”

            “Yes Mommy!”

            “Now look what you do to yuh hand.  Unu too hard ears!  WHO CAN’T HEAR MUST FEEL!”

After she finish cuss dem, Jean race Wendell to East Birmingham Hospital where he cry some more when he receive twelve painful stitches.

*All rights reserved.  No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Norman Samuda-Smith.*

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One Response to “FEATURED STORY”

  1. Raleigh Holtberg Says:

    This nice post! Saved the site, extremely interesting categories everywhere that I see here! I really like the information, thanks.

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