Love awakened me this morning. Love for her and an adulation that I am forced to conceal just in case she believes I am merely a man, and weak, and quite foolish.
But, without even a stir from her, something moved in me to look at her, to love her more. And to reflect.
I was 11 and Lorna would always be at her school gate, St. Joseph’s, as I walked from the bus downtown to KC in the mornings. 1963.
I was just a few months over twelve. As I spent ten minutes listening to her having a conversation with me I was fixated on her bosom. Couldn’t quite figure it out but I would be looking forward to seeing her again. Her ‘things’ again.
One Christmas I was trying to steal her away. To Maxfield Park fair. Me with my two younger brothers in tow. Her Chinese grandmother saw her as she was attempting to steal away through a side gate.
“Lorna, is whey yu going with dat coolie boy!”
Then there was Sonia. It was 1966. We met at Champs. She attended Ardenne. I was at KC. She lived with her uncle and he owned a supermarket. One Saturday night at about 9 PM I was by her fence. There was a break in the ficus hedging. She was on her side. I was on the outside.
I had ‘stolen’ one of my sister’s transistor radios and I was listening to a broadcast of a football match. Suddenly Sonia forced her hand towards me, grabbed me tightly by the neck and the next thing I knew, her tongue was in my mouth, snaking itself all over my insides.
As my hand-middle and foot-bottom sweated Sonia thumped away the radio. I pulled away from her and hoped she would not see the uncontrollable erection I had. “I will see you later,” I said as I picked up the radio and left in a rush. I was running away but I told my friends differently. I left because the emotions of the moment were too overpowering for me to figure out.
Valerie, you were the standout that night in the summer of 1967. The party. Hughenden.
An old orange grove, now filled with an early version of an uptown, concrete necessity. At the party my friends dared me to approach your group. I did and when I came over, introduced myself and asked you for a dance. I thought I was so slick but you said no. I was deflated to the point that as I left for the bar I swore that I would return.
I did and we danced away the night and, as I left you by your gate I moved my lips towards yours at just about the same time you were trying to confuse me with the sweetness of yours. Why did you allow me to linger? And why did you allow my hands to wander?
In 1971 the cosmos gave me Ann-Marie. May of that year. My hand was locked into hers. “Hello,” I said.
When I was introduced to her I tripped out. ‘This is Miss Elliott.’ I stared at her. A great, big Afro hairdo. A toothy smile. Hints of something or another in her eyes. She was the thought of it, the generation of it, the reality of it and its all. Love.
It was too easy for me to be captivated. That was not the lover’s fate. For me I was captured, made her slave. I could hear the jail cells slamming shut and me inside pleading for an even harsher imprisonment.
In time she walked from her desk to the water cooler and I loved her for it. She answered the phone at her desk and I loved her for it. She went to the filing cabinet and probably knowing that my eyes were glued on her every movement, she slipped a smile my way. And I loved her for it.
And as she held me captive I gave over all that made sense and no sense to her, to me. I wrote her poetry. Somewhat flowery but driven more by the heat of my passion than the need to maintain words in acceptable rhythm.
‘When my soul has left your presence do I have the right to grieve? Though instilled with much bravery, yet I cannot show outwardly the song of my heart and how it needs to have your soul inflamed. Am I then condemned for the sake of your beauty…’
Carmen, you girl in 1978 were a mirage that was as unreal even as you generated a torridly hot summer of my life. I did not need you then but I could not help but inviting you to destroy me, to carve out whatever you wished inside me.
We kissed like love struck teenagers at Turntable one night until the early morning sweeper said, ‘Unno still dey yah?’
“You are the most romantic man I have ever known,” you once lied to me. Then months later you told me the real truth. “Mark you have made me know every dutty bar and club in Kingston.”
In between the loves of my life I have been visited by the gods of despair and loneliness and numerous, nameless women who were disconnected fillers in between me smoking cigarettes. In the past I have spent many hours playing chess with Johnny Walker Black way into the wee hours of the morning. Johnny always won. Shit!
Pain has had its way inside my mind as the tears flowed inside and the emptiness outside was hidden. I once floated on the crazy idea that maybe it didn’t make sense to be here anymore.
Daughn,you were there in 1983. I saw you walking. Kings Plaza. I was in the club nearby when I saw you walking. It was me and my KC bredrin Joe.
“Psssst,” just came out from me. Never expected it from me. Too tacky! Damn, you stopped. “Do I know you?” you said.
You were smiling but trying to conceal the venality of your immediate ensnarement and the earlier swing of the stagecraft of your backside.
“I do not know you. I just saw you walking by like a dream. I like to interrupt dreams. In truth I am lonely and I want to get to know you.”
You began to laugh. “You are just crazy,” you said.
“No, I am not. I am Mark.”
We are at your apartment by the next weekend. One moment you are cooking liver and onions and I am up against you, behind you, steaming the vegetables. Next we are smoking weed and we are humping like wild animals on the stair steps towards your bedroom. Our garments are left in bits and pieces like tracks to the sins of our urgent desires.
Maybe we should have left breadcrumbs.
Tammie, you came in the brief fog of 1997 because you were the wind itself even if you believed that you existed outside of the dream that you were. But in the crazy moments of love you were forced to express guilt because you had another. Even if you knew that he was himself, nothing but a phantasm. Your Hollywood director.
Writing screenplays. Like a fucking amateur.
“Don’t move, don’t move, I am coming! Oh…sheeeet!”
You cried when you left and in the darkness of the little shop in Duhaney Park shopping centre I kissed you for the last time. Tender. Never to be had again.
It was the warm and tender tropical winter wind which blew her to me in 1997. Chupski. No less than an angel! Why were you consuming me so? Why did you not blow me away instead of taking me in?
I preferred it that way my love and why would I not want it so? I came chasing you in the hills when you were least expecting me but that day when you saw me I knew you were overjoyed.
“I think we are in love with each other,” you said months later.
I was scared. You were cagey or, were you confused? “I am not in love with anyone,” I said as I fooled myself.
You awakened me this morning and gave me love. Oh, hell, the dinner I made for you the day before must have been really good. Pork, gungo rice-an-peas, potato salad. My special ginger drink.
“That feels so good,” you said as my hands gently kneaded in the aromatic oil across the tenderness of your back.
Carry the bottle of wine later. Merlot? Doesn’t matter. As long as you are with it.
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