On July 26th 2015, I visited my grandmother at one of my old childhood neighbourhoods. Knowing I would be leaving the island soon, I had high hopes of conducting an interview that was long overdue.
I say one of my childhood neighbourhoods because that’s exactly what it is – just one of many I had lived in during my earlier years. My wanderlust didn’t suddenly come about in adulthood. I grew up in a family that, prior to high school, never remained in any one location for more than a year or two.
Some children would have hated that – leaving behind family, friends and familiarity.
Not this child.
This child loved it.
This child matured into an adult that never outgrew that love for new places.
The only other people in my family who shared that wanderlust were my great-great-great-great (and counting) grandparents who came to Jamaica from Ireland on a boat in the 1800s.
A wealthy set, they quickly went about acquiring land and building a plantation. However, what they hadn’t counted on acquiring was a mulatto offshoot to their previously “pedigree” line.
The creation of that mulatto offshoot led to a lot of blood, sweat and tears – perhaps more than was necessary, even at that time. I promised my grandmother a long time ago that I would one day turn that legacy into a book – a fictional twist rather than the true story – and this was my first step towards doing so.
But the interview that day wasn’t my only exploration into the past. I was, after all, on old family property. I visited the remains of the old house my great-grandmother had once lived in. She was the first of the mulatto member of our line.
I was close with my great-grandmother. I’ve been told a thousand times of how much I am like her, and how I would spend nights locked up alone in her house as a child after she had died.
In the late evening, my family would come calling, begging me to come home. But no one would enter the house at night – not for some time to come. They were a superstitious lot and I – well, I had always been a morbid child.
My great-grandmother’s house would later become my own, as well as, much of the land she inherited. But I am only 25 and a nomad with no use for houses and land of my own. Even so, I could never be more grateful for what I have and how we came by it.
Perhaps the book that immortalises the ancestral beginnings to our legacy is what I’ll write next and perhaps not. But whatever the case, I’ll get it done – for my grandmother, myself, and her mother before us.