Before I tell you what she told me, “excuse me while I vent”. I am amazed how easily our young people or as the May 20 edition of TIME calls them, millennials, say that they are bored. How can they be?
After all, they live in the era of 10 trillion channels beaming everything from every corner of the globe. They live with or are on social media, Facebook and the Internet. A whole new digital dictionary has been created to serve them. According to TIME, this is the “me” generation.
It is shocking how in the midst of all the modern avatars, boredom appears. But let me get back to what my wife told me!
She told me she lived in Jack Ma Nanny Gap. Try finding that on a modern map of Barbados! Trust me, your chances of winning the Lotto would be better. This gap is unique as it actually has a meaning.
But what does it mean? If you knew the meaning would you want to live in a gap with that name? However that is venting for another time.
In this gap with the awkward name the centre of her socialisation (big university-type word meaning “broughtupsy”) was a tamarind tree.
She said that generations, were entertained, taught skills and employed under that tamarind tree. There was a beauty salon under the tree. One of the girls practised her barbering skills as she shaped and refined afros. Others learnt how to plait hair. When chemical curls were introduced some of the girls experimented on some of the more adventurous heads.
A variety of games were played under the tree, with cricket being the most obvious choice. “Tip-ma-two” is a fast paced version where the batsman had to run two runs every time he hit the ball. Invariably when the ball went into a neighbour’s yard “lost ball” was declared.
There were other variations to cricket. Kneeling-down cricket was played with all the players in a kneeling position. There was also blind man cricket which was played indoors on those days when the rain was falling. All the players, from one to four played with their eyes closed.
They pitched three-hole killer, played rounders and darts. One of the adults in the group was a well-known Barbados darts player and he taught them all. Many in the group also learned to ride a bicycle under that tree. On some days under the tree was transformed to bleachers in a stadium as the tamarind children raced each other up and down the narrow street.
Of course my wife claims that she was unbeaten.
Under the tree of life she was taught to knit and crochet, skills which she still uses today. One of the adult women under the tree did smocking for a company in the industrial estate near the harbour. So the tree family all assisted. Hence she can smock.
A man up the street had a business picking tamarinds from trees throughout the island, cracking the shell (shelling) and placing the fruit in syrup for export. This is a business activity which has slowly disappeared. Today we import the sweet tamarinds from the Far East. One of the tree dwellers worked for this man. Consequently all the tree community helped her shell tamarinds during tamarind season.
Under the tamarind tree they were taught the basics of cooking and baking. The young ones cooked muddy cou-cou. Others roasted a breadfruit or fish here and there and the menu became bolder the older they got. The music from Kai-Kai’s radio-gram taught them to dance to oldie-goldies.
Hilary Clinton wrote a book, It Takes a Village. In it she argued that it took a village, a society, a country to raise its children. To use two good American words the “neo-conservatives” went “ballistic” because they felt that parents had the sole responsibility for raising children. My wife is firm in the view that this village and two strong parents raised her.
So if you are ever looking for your tree of life and you see a Canadian white woman sitting under a Tamarind Tree trust me, look closely and you might see my wife. Selah!