Hollis P. Lashley

Author

 Be inspired and Motivated to increase your Spiritual Energy.  

 

Hello Arious Family, Greetings from the Muse Of Ideas. On a recent trip to Brooklyn, after a long absence, I was struck by the ordinary blessings with which we are surrounded every day, and which we take for granted. In celebration thereof, here is the start of a series, the name of which I would reveal later. Here is part of chapter one, and your responses are welcome.

Chapter 1: February 11, 2011

ORDINARY SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS!

I am cocooned in a joy and happiness which is difficult to describe, and yes you may ask, why? I have not yet won the lotto. I have not yet won the Pulitzer prize. I have not met a good looking Caribbean woman, but I am on a spiritual high.

I simply visited Brooklyn, something which I had not done in a while.

Tut called on Saturday morning. “Flash, what you doing? Yuh want to run down to Brooklyn wid me?”

“What happen to yuh car that you have to run?”

Anyhow, after the usual hemming and hawing, I decided to make the trip.

The weather was cloudy, but the traffic was flowing steadily. No cause for concern. One stop for gas, peeing, and snacking. Being who we are, we choose  nuts, of course.

First stop, Manhattan, then Brooklyn. Angie, my sister was expecting me. Mike , my friend was waiting. I planned to pass by ‘Sesame’, but of course not before getting some Trini-Chinese food on Church and New York. Then to head by Angie to drop off mih bag, eat, meet Mike and find a lime.

Called Mike when we were finished eating. As usual, he did not answer his phone. Why? That is another story. About twenty minutes later, he called back.

“Yuh ready to move?”

“Sure. Wey yuh is?”

“ Ah jus rong de corner. I go see yuh in ten minutes.”

Now, I know that I’m in Brooklyn since Mike showed up one hour and five minutes after the call.

Tut and I in his vehicle, waiting, chatting, and he calling home every minute, “Choonks, how you and the children. Yuh miss mih? Leh mih kiss yuh. Leh mih kiss yuh.”

Tut, like a schoolboy pushing move on a new thing. But, it was nice to see a man expressing love for his wife of so many years. Yes, that was impressive.

Mike reach. “We going by Harold and them mass camp. Follow me.”

 

He made a right on Nostrand and take off like he was on the BQE. (The Brooklyn Queens Express.)

“Slow down man. The man following. Take yuh time.”

Mike slowed, and Tut was able to follow the twists and turns until we got to the Mass Camp.

As we entered, there was Apo, with the usual greeting. “ Boy, what you doing here.? You didn’t come for labor day, I ent see you. What happening?”

And it was then the lime and the old talk start.

....To be Continued...

Hollis P. Lashley. © 2011.

 


 

Chapter 1 Continues: February 18, 2011

ORDINARY SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS!

As the questions began to fly like a flock of Flamingos coming in to roost in the Caroni swamp at twilight, I had to explain my absence from Brooklyn for such a long time.

As the conversation continued, I was introduced to DJ Blaze, a Trini whom I met for the first time.

Of course the topic in time turned to music, including analyses of calypso and the changes over the years.

“Aye, Flash. Wey it was that yuh come second in a calypso competition in Brooklyn?”

A man to my right asked.

“If I am not mistaken, I think it was at the Rainbow Terrace on Nostrand” I replied.

“Not only did I come in second, but the man who beat me was drunk,” I emphasized,

“ and after the competition I remember Birdie asking the judges, How come allyuh put Flash second when every body know he win?”

One of the judges turn to Birdie and remarked, “That is yuh pardner? Why yuh didn’t say something earlier?”

Well, the crowd laughed and laughed , but the fact remained that in Brooklyn, at least at that time, they would set up the competition in such a way that the big first prize was never really paid out. The first place winner would be given a trophy and a bottle of something to drink, and the big prize mentioned on the flyer would do just that, Fly.

Tut meanwhile was consuming water like a hot radiator. He does not drink alcohol, had

to drive to Queens, and of course was still calling home, making some strange sounds as

if he was being strangled with a pillow.

“Bloogles, choonkee choonkee, yuh sheepin yet? The house warm enough? Yuh miss mih, yuh miss mih?”

At one time the whole place get quiet, with all eyes focused on him.

I had to intervene and tell them that he was a night nurse and was trying to make one of his patients comfortable.

Mike looked at me and responded, “Yeh….. Right!”

Calypso talk start again, and Blax start telling the crowd about the latest music coming out of the Caribbean, including T and T of course.

Mike and Blax wanted Grey Goose, while Reds only wanted Absolut straight, no ice.

I asked Blax if he did not think that the Goose tasted better.

“Absolutely Not,” was his reply.

“And why should I drink goose. Goose is to eat, not to drink. It have food, and I not hungry…… Yet.”

Soon afterward, Harold strolled in.

“Flash boy, whappening. Yuh here?”

What else could I say but “No, is not me. Is a ghost.”

“Yuh still talking chuppidness eh. Anyhow, what yuh drinking?”

“ I’ll take ah Absolut Goose” and then the talk turned to All Fours and the days of  Sunday competitions in Brooklyn.

....To be Continued...(More Next Week, so stay tuned)

Hollis P. Lashley. © 2011.


 

Chapter 1 Continues: February 25, 2011

ORDINARY SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS!

When Harold started the ‘All Fours’ talk, old memories began to surface like the high tide coming in at the beach on a moonlight night.

Sunday Evenings with the All Fours League in Brooklyn, playing with teams like ‘Carib’ and ‘Angels’ and ‘Brooklyn Limers’, First Hang Jack, Most Bull’s Eye, men trying to thief and hiding cards in their shirt sleeve, noise, old talk and fatigue, Boysin and Winston (may his soul rest in peace wherever he may be} and of course  my old pardner Morgan, remembering that we were a team of players that it was hard to beat.

I remembered the time when some team from Queens came in to Brooklyn for a fete match, and I and Morgan were playing against two men formally from Caroni in T and T. Before the match started, they were boasting about how even the birds in the swamp would keep quiet when they were playing. They called themselves Ramadin and Valentine after the legendary pair of West Indies bowlers on the cricket team in the days of Calypso Cricket glory.

They went outside to make sure that they had their signs correct. To those who do not know, ‘All Fours’ is a game that is played with signs, almost like ‘Bid Whist’, but each game is played until a pair reaches fourteen chalks, or points if you prefer that term.

Ramadin was the talkative one, regaling the crowd with stories of his exploits in the All Fours arena. He mentioned his many trophies, the number of ‘Icy Hots’ he had won, the humiliation he had meted out to opposing players, and to top it off, he started to sing ‘Bologie’, an old Indian tune, with a voice like a crapaud, and a wine like it turn into water. It was that weak.

There were eight tables, with I and Morgan playing on table number eight, our favorite number.

In the speech before the match, Mr. Ramadin ( the acting captain of  the team calling themselves BQE) was very loud and made sure to apologize for in his words, “the cutarse we are about to inflict on our children.”

The BQE team was animated, in their glory, boasting that they could not remember when last they had lost a fete match.

The match took place at the old Burroquites place at the corner of Church and East 38th Street, and in those days Apo and Lester and those boys from Morvant used to be in their glee, especially during the labor day weekend when fete would be jamming nonstop, and liquid libation would be flowing like the waves at Maracas beach.

It was a typical Summer day, not too warm, with the sky as blue as it could be in Brooklyn given the natural tendency of smog to dominate nature’s blue. One could almost describe it as Industrial grey of the brighter kind.

One o’clock. Match began. Morgan got the first hang jack. Valentine’s jack, if I may elaborate a little.

Ramadin got mad and started to make noise with his pardner. We won the first game, fourteen to five.

Game number two. Same kakhi pants. Ramadin more mad. A cool breeze could not stop the sweat from popping out all over Ramadin’s face. Meanwhile, Valentine was as quiet as a mouse, and I mean a dead mouse.

At the end of the first half, the score on table eight was seven to zero, of course in faver of Morgan and his pardner, Sir Hanga Ganga.

Half time; food being served, libations passing, fun, music old talk, comradery being shared like dinner mints.

And everyone asking, “Anybody see Ramadin and Valentine?”

...Stay tuned...

Hollis P. Lashley. © 2011.


 

Chapter 1 Continues (Part 4): March 11, 2011

ORDINARY SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS!

The memories of All Fours and Brooklyn kept on circulating in my mind like the soothing strains of an old gospel song, melding past present and future hopes into one pleasurable conscious experience.

It was homecoming and a renewing of  the ties of a village world which has at some time, affected all of us who have come to the Babylonian Metropolis in search of our El Dorados and our dreams of Green.

It was ethos and pathos, ying and yang, comedy and tragedy; all playing their parts on that vast stage of the mind, in a moment when all judgments are being suspended because one has chosen to just be in the unfolding now of one’s existence.

 It was an awareness which cut through the pretensions which we wield so very consciously in our every day interactions that we many times fail to observe the various layers of contradictions with which we swaddle our tenderness, in order to appear as though we are one of the chosen few who have made it, or who are superior to those we deem to be beneath us.

In the reality of our illusionary existing, we cannot recognize that we are actors on the stage of an amphitheatre which tethers on the brink of extinction, with its only backdrop being the void of our ignorance, the audience; all those who can feel the pain and the joy of our spiritual origins and our ongoing grasping to discover ourselves.

Brooklyn, and Washington, DC; like a pair of mismatched socks on the feet of toddler, one warm and friendly, the other thin and barely able to keep in the heat; but both being advertised as user friendly and possibly the best pair on the planet, until you put them to the wearing.

Power and Force, Glitz and Ritz, Life and Living, Pretenders and Potentiates all vying to be stars in this three ring circus owned by the Company called “Birth, Death and Redemption, Esquires.”

Brooklyn, where the lights come on, and the people come out to parade where the shadows are soft enough to deny the encroaching reality of accumulating years, where one can visit a hole in the ground which is no larger than a mausoleum, but which accommodates a large group of the few, the brave, the walking wounded, the disillusioned, the hopeful, the talkers, the silent ones, all coming together to celebrate the daily “Ambakaila.” Sometimes there is music, sometimes just a dull throbbing as though Mother Earth is simply reminding us that she still has a beating heart which is being weighed down by our dishonor; and sometimes there is an eerie silence, made pregnant by its noisy discomfort and its clanging discord.

Brooklyn, where the Metropolis has forged its own heroes, where worlds are made manifest in ways which can baffle the reality of physics, and where friendships mean much more than a word used to described a desire.

At this time in the morning, I think of Lisette, my grandmother. I think of her pipe which she occasionally smoked after her daily glass of after dinner wine, and her words of encouragement to spur me on to love reading. She lived to about 95, refusing to chase after the runs to make a century, but I can see her now and smell her grandmotherly smells which would linger on my skin when it was cold and I needed something to sleep in. Those were the pre pajama days when utility was the fashionable trend of the times.

I remember the novel she gave to me when I was 13 years old, “L’Auberge de la Noble Rose.” If I am not mistaken, I lent it to Elmo and I am still waiting for him to return my book. If you see him, please remind him that I am still waiting.

I can still see Lisette in her little two room mansion in Laventille, near to the Community Centre, and her walking from her home to Morvant to visit her daughter, my aunt, and doing so while she was well into her eighties. I remember those days of innocence and growth and hoping and wishing, and yes polishing those attitudes which would serve you for the rest of your life, depending of course on how you define “Life”

I remember the patois, which by the way I was too stupid to learn.

 I remember the many species of mango that we ate as children, and which seems to have disappeared into oblivion today. Doudouce, Zabrico, Starch, Long, Rose, Calabash, and the host of others. I sit here lost in thought and I am tempted to pick up my cuatro whenever I can get to it and sing to the tune of ‘Where have all the flowers gone?”

Where have all the mangoes gone

Long time passing

Where have all the mangoes gone

A long long time ago?

Where have all the mangoes gone

Gone to children everyone

When will they ever learn

When will they ever Learn?

Where have all the children gone? Gone to adults some of them.

Where have all the adults gone? Gone back to dust everyone.

Tell me where is that dust Now? Back to mangoes I am sure.

And so we fill in our verses, and our songs continue, either so that only we can hear or so that others can. Sometimes we sing with a few others, sometimes we sing to a crowd. Sometimes we sing out of tune, but with our untrained ears we cannot hear ourselves. And yet sometimes too, we do not know how to sing, but week after week we practice with the choir, and the conductor allows us to fill up a space, not because we deserve to, but because we diligently came to practice, in spite of our lack of skill, and more importantly because we are not aware of our lack thereof.

  See you later, mamatater.

Hollis P. Lashley. © 2011.


 

Chapter 1 Continues (Part 5): March 18, 2011

ORDINARY SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS!

Thoughts of the past, catapulted me back to a time of innocence and learning and hopes and dreams. I remembered the lush green hills surrounding our village enclave, the prodigious fecundity of nature serenading its many hued costumes in riotous colors to make a rainbow envious. I remembered the tropical palette of an unfolding day in our valley village, the sun peeping over the horizon during the morning hours in soft colors that only a divine painter could mix; the atmosphere becoming more intense, bright and hot as the fiery steed coursed its way across the sky until it reached its zenith scattering rays to chase mortal inhabitants indoors to await its waning.

Past, present and future, forming a kaleidoscope of emotions in my mind.

Like a vast picture album, images came to mind from times past.

I revisited my youth and walked on Plover Street remembering the inhabitants of every house, from the bottom of the hill where the old bus stop was located, to the top of the hill where Plover Street intersected Redwood Street before continuing toward Plover Gardens on the right, and Red Hill on the left.

I again saw the old candle factory which the calypsonian “Roaring Lion” had constructed when he returned from London. Sad to say, I cannot remember a candle being produced as the building only remained uninhabited over the years, only to wax in desertion over time, as plants and animals made use of the facilities according to their needs.

I remembered the moonlight nights when that large pumpkin shaped moon would hang suspended in its awesome beauty, bathing the night in its own natural softness. This was a time of joy, a time of laughter, a time of hope and discovery. I remembered the theater of imagination playing its tricks on a mind still stimulated by possibilities of an unlimited future. I remembered being transported to the workshop of illusion as those banana leaves waved in the moonlight, and as the night sounds washed over scenes of magic and mystery, and as the chemicals of sensitivity raced through the blood of the innocents.

I remembered Joan, as we walked hand in hand, professing teenaged lyrics of caring and loving, hoping to understand a future that was evasive and uncertain due to our ignorance of life and living.

I remembered that night when Joan and I were kissing under a big mango tree, merging with the shadows as we hugged and whispered. This was not a time of permissive abandon, as we were clear about the boundaries concerning our loving interactions. Some hugging and kissing, a bit of touching in places where clothing formed a natural barrier to the quest for intimacy, wishing and hoping, but ever being conscious of the unspoken rules of respect and trust.

And in the distance, a traveler with a bag on her head and a child at her side.

And there we were, young and giggling as the woman and child approached us in the semi darkness.

Then, a sudden stop as the woman saw movement under the mango tree.

It is obviously very difficult to place one’s self in the mind of another, or to imagine what motivates behavior in others at times of preparing for flight or to fight.

There was a sudden outburst of prayer as from a missal, as The Lord’s Prayer was followed by several Hail Marys, Creeds from Apostles who were never in any Holy Book, and of course many Psalms were vying with each other for utterance as this obviously petrified being was trying her best to ward off the evil that she thought was seeking to bar her path to the sanctuary of Home.

She seemed to hesitate for a while, but after being, I suppose, reassured by her faith and prayers, she slowly approached our night niche, as we of course were trying to suppress a laughter which was bubbling up with the force of a volcano, and which suddenly erupted with the force of unreason.

Laughter and mirth mixed with youthful indiscretion as Joan and I punctuated the Religious with humorous. We howled with laughter.

In the twinkling of an eye, the litany of prayer stopped, no doubt because of the realization that the supernatural specter was only flesh and blood engaging in its own activities. In the place of prayer, there was a stream of profanity to make a sailor blush with shame. The woman hurled curses and insults which were meant not only to destroy, but also to cause unborn generations never to see the light of day. Far from stemming the tide of our laughter, the pronouncements of Obeah laden threats simply opened the floodgates of our amusement, causing us to laugh even harder.

Her fear and anger being spent, she slowly wound her way to her abode, no doubt thoroughly reassured of her positive relationship with the Almighty, and perhaps with a little trembling as she lit her kerosene lamp with the words inscribed on the shade, “Home Sweet Home.”

Yes, I remembered this simple yet profound little village world, where Pesche, and Mikey and Audley and I would sit under “The Diamond Horse Shoe” parlor at night, kneading our hopes and polishing our dreams as our youth sped by unheeding of our inability to predict a future which always comes, regardless of whether we are adequately prepared or not.

I remembered the Morvant I knew and loved, as it was then.

More to Come..

Hollis P. Lashley. © 2011.

 

 

 

Hollis Lashley, Author, Gifts From the Heart
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