South Trinidad my home
 Illustration: Andrina James.

South Trinidad always my home

By Felesha Parboo. Growing up in south Trinidad, in a family with two older sisters and a stay-at-home mother and a father who worked taxi, was a seemingly perfect life in the eyes of an eight-year-old. I attended ASJA Primary School with one of my sisters and every day after school, as the clock strike 3.30 we were at home and waiting patiently on the back step for our mother. Sitting on either side of her, she had enough food on a flowered plate for the two of us as she fed us one at a time.

But it wasn’t just any ordinary day. My mother’s eyes welled up with tears as she mentioned that we will be moving to Boston the next Tuesday. I cried, I begged, and I pleaded but we were still moving and leaving my oldest sister behind in south Trinidad because she was old enough to take care of herself.

Upon arriving in Miami International Airport, we endured a five-hour delay because of a blizzard that was cascading throughout the Boston area. We finally arrived there late in the night and all I can think about is that this wasn’t my home, I just left my home. We moved from place to place until we settled down in our own apartment, while coping with family who was so strict that we couldn’t eat meat which wasn’t “Halal” in the house, and having to live off a small paycheck because my father alone was working.

Festive holidays in South Trinidad

Meanwhile in school, my accent was different from the average African American children and I was the laughing joke of everyone’s conversation. I just wanted to go back home after all my humiliation. It became so serious that I began to steal from clothing stores just because I wanted my parents to send me back home. I tried every possible way to get home but it all ended in dismay. I knew I was missing out on the beautiful and festive holidays such as Carnival, Phagwa and Diwali, but mostly at Christmas time it wasn’t the same as in south Trinidad. It felt like a boring ordinary day compared to the parang music and gifts given out on Christmas day.

Restoring the missing part of myself

I love my parents with all my heart and I never meant to hurt or embarrass them but I knew deep down in my heart that this wasn’t the place for me. Even though Boston is a beautiful and quiet place, I felt completely different from everyone else. My father always said that he came there for our betterment, for us to get a better job and education than which was given to us in Trinidad. Luckily, my father knew how to handle his money and business and he got my mother and himself a job in the Massachusetts General Hospital.

I love my country

After eight years in Boston, I couldn’t manage to disappointment my father by telling him that I still wanted to go back home to Trinidad, so I actually wrote everything that I felt for the past few years until then on a piece of paper and gave it to my father. Tears streamed down my father’s face and all that escaped his mouth was, “What else can I do babe, if you want to go I can’t stop you anymore, if I say no you will find another way to go behind my back.” My mother never hugged me or told me goodbye on the morning that I left to come back home and I felt completely heartbroken. A few weeks later, she finally talked back to me.

I love my country Trinidad and that never changed when I was in Boston. It was always meant to be my home and I knew that. I thank God every day for my wonderful family for understanding what was going on with me and I am overwhelmed to be back at home. As the saying goes, you can take a person out of Trinidad but you can’t take the Trinidadian out of her.

August 2013 – Issue 5

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