GUYANA: Short Stories: So Beautiful it Hurts – By Geoff Burrowes

So Beautiful it Hurts – By Geoff Burrowes

My big girl cousin Wendy was enthusiastic and daring. When she said breathlessly “Come and see this!” and took off up our kitchen stairs the rest of us followed quickly. The upstairs window, around which we all crowded faced West up Brickdam and we could see the broad grass verges lined with delicate and colourful flambouyant trees and Brickdam quickly filling up with costumed people.

We could just feel a disturbance in the warm, fragrant morning air. The disturbance soon turned into the sweet, haunting liquid notes of  steel drums playing “Mary’s Boy Child” a musical tribute to the Christ Child born in a manger in far away Bethlehem two thousand years before.           

“Mary’s Boy Child” –Steel Rhythm Steel Drum Band

The music was so beautiful that it brought tears to my young eyes – I can’t remember any discussion or decision, but the next thing I remember was jumping to the music at the end of a line of people, all moving in unison to the hypnotic beat of the steel pans; the deep bongs of the large second pans and high clear notes of the cut down first pans highlighted by the ring of the

steel. The band was the Texicans, headquartered on Boarda Green and dressed for this tramp in black and white Yankee Sailor Suits.

     As long as I live I will never forget the sweetness of”Mary’s Boy Child” played by The Texicans on the steel pans, made from surplus oil drums!

     Steel Band tramps were a regular part of Christmas in Georgetown in the 1940s but they fell out of favour after the British Government banned the gathering of groups of people, after suspending the constitution in 1953!

After our family emigrated to Canada in 1975 we found ourselves in Scarborough Town Centre as my dated Crimplene suits needed replacing.

     I realized that my beautiful wife Norma had streams of tears running down her cheeks. Her hearing has always been better than mine and she was hearing a Scarborough High School Steel band playing “Yellow Bird” and homesickness and the mellow tones of the steel pans made her break down in public!

    Steel Band music sweet, sweet!

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