Guyana Nostalgia: Jane’s Party – By Geoff Burrowes

 – By Geoff Burrowes

I have to admit that I like happy endings. Ever since I read “…and they all lived happily ever after.” But the truth is that into every life some rain must fall – and this story has heavy  rain – Guyana rain!

       I was twelve and had discovered  girls – I wasn’t a sweet man or a hustle man, I was too naïve and timid, but my sister Mary had taught me to dance, to the lovely  piano tunes of Randolph Proffit, on a Friday night and I liked the feel of a girl in my arms as we circled the floor!  So I was looking forward to the party this Friday night. In addition the boys and girls were older and we didn’t normally get invited to their parties.     

The party was being held by the older girls and guys for a girl called Jane who was visiting BG.

Jane was a fun-loving girl with long brown hair down her back and I had been drawn to her dynamic personality and her flashing brown eyes and intended to get as many dances with her as I could manage.

The day of the fete Jane became bored and my cousin Penny suggested a swim in the backdam. Jane was delighted with the suggestion and off we went. My mother was out and I was hesitant but my sister Mary, who loved adventures said  “I‘m going!” So I, not wanting to look like a sissy, went along. (First mistake)

East of Georgetown was a beautifully maintained Botanic Gardens, swathes of green manicured lawns, separated  by peaceful ponds with manatees and docile alligators. Red brick roads wound their way through the gardens with carefully tended flower beds of Canna lilies and brightly adorned hibiscus bushes. At the far end of the Gardens was a trench which I think was part of the water Conservancy that provided drinking water to Georgetown. Although there was a water sterilizing plant on Camp Street, people were not encouraged to swim in the Conservancy and it may even have been against the law.

We rode our bicycles, sneaking past the green and cream watch house at the Garden’s entrance and generally not drawing attention to ourselves, up the neat red brick roads and up to the very back of the Gardens, where the cool brown trench ran between bush covered banks.

Our gang of exuberant teenagers lost no time putting on our swimsuits and were soon frolicking in the cool waters of the trench. We were having so much fun that we were nearly surprised when a motor launch came up the trench, but someone heard the motor and we quickly scrambled up the bank and hid in the bushes. The launch seemed to take forever to come past – and from the bushes we saw a wonderful apparition, a brown skinned white man in a bug-house (pith helmet) with a bushy white mustache and long shorts and desert boots. This icon of colonial power was so busy catching forty winks that he never saw us teenagers hiding in the bush.

After the launch passed we decided to go home and this is when the trouble started! Mary and I prudently decided not to mention our adventure. However our mother called our Auntie Sheila, who had been told by her children, Wendy and Penny and Christopher and our mum put down the phone quietly and went inside to talk to our father. This was not a good sign and we waited with bated breath to see what would happen next.

Our father was always ready with a laugh or a joke but not this afternoon! He sat me and Mary down and asked us

“What do you think your Mum and I are most upset about?” Mary said uncertainly “Because we went swimming in the backdam?”

This would be where the green leather belt would normally appear with me, being the older one, getting the hotter lashes but this time our dad looked at us with such sadness and disappointment that my heart broke. He said  “If you had asked us we would probably said no, because those trenches sometimes have pirai or camoudis or alligators” and at this point he looked at me and spoke directly to me “Not only didn’t you ask us but we had to find out about it from your aunt Sheila, who thought it was a great joke and who was surprised we didn’t know. How do you think that made us feel as parents?”

Our punishment was to forbid us the party that evening. We were embarrassed in front of the older girls and boys but the thing that stung most of all was because we had disappointed our mum and dad.

Rain like pease!

I’ll ask you, do you think I got up to wutlessness after that? Of course I did, I was a normal teenaged boy, but I never hung my mum and dad out to dry in that way again!

Party invitations too dried up for a while and so my dancing had to wait for many months.

” Hard is the way of the transgressor!”

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Comments

  • wally n  On May 14, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks for reminding me, I could be going …. straight to hell Just did it all, consequence be damned. You obviously had a great childhood, nice of you to share.

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