It was always a very emotional time getting ready in the mornings as they were always off to a late start. I remember a lot of manhandling and tears both during the time they got me ready for school and on the trip. Because we were always late she ended up dragging me along in addition to cursing because I was slowing her down.
I learned to be fearful of people who were bigger than me. Added to that, depending on how late I was I would be beaten by the teacher for being late. I was four when I started basic school and it was not very long before she started leaving me behind along the way.
Eventually she started leaving me from home when it got late and I got tired of being beaten for being late so this morning in particular, it was so late that no one was on the road. I was scared because of the journey that loomed ahead, and the quietness of the road.
I got to an old, decrepit, abandoned house that was referred to as ‘at John Dacosta’s’ and decided in my miserable state that I was not going to take a second beating that morning. There were a few bushes and shrubs and an Otahiti apple tree http://bestjamaica.com/otaheite-apple.html on the roadside property and I frantically looked around for a good spot to hide.
It did not take me long to find a nice sized shrub with a space I could crawl in and be completely hidden which I did, and conditioned my mind to wait there until lunch time when I could go back home for lunch and return for a half day of school. Never mind that I was terrified, because there had been many tales told of ghosts that inhabited the old house and was therefore haunted.
It was the longest morning of my little life. I probably would have fallen asleep had I not been so terrified as my little heart beat a steady tattoo the whole time.
After what seemed like forever, the first set of children started going pass for lunch and I surreptitiously joined the noisy throng.
I went home for lunch with nobody wondering why I was home so early. Went back before the lunch hour was up and joined my class for the second half of the day without a ripple.
The worst thing that happened was they called me ‘half-day bud,’ bud meaning bird in Jamaican patois. The teacher was never curious about why I was not in school for the morning session so she did not ask my mother who would have been happy for another opportunity to beat me mercilessly.
Imagine! A secret I nearly took to the grave!
I still continued to be late for school from time to time but the memory of the fear-filled half day hiding in the yard of the haunted house inspired enough bravery to face the few licks in the palm of my hand with a twelve inch ruler.