Friday, January 25, 2008

Yuh Know Mi?

"Yah mon, yuh know mi. Mi remembah yuh. A lang time you a come a Jah-mey-ka, riiiiiight?"

I'm that smiling dread who Touch Fist with you the first time we meet because, "Yuh cool, seen?"

I'm that smiling dread who told you, "Yuh one Original Ragamuffin, a dat mi know," as I nodded to my bredren and we all laughed that knowing laugh, eyes wide. Made you feel like you were one of us, right?

Yah mon, yuh know mi.

I'm that smiling dread who said, "Nuff respect, souljah, big up di EYE, seen suh?" as I effortlessly rolled you the fattest skliff you'd ever seen. But as I drew my tongue across the edge of the rizla and then twirled the tip of that fatty inside my mouth to seal it up tight, you wondered if this was really A Good Idea.

"Bless up", I said as I handed you the sacrament. "Tek it, mon, tek it," I said as I waved away your offer of a few jays. "Jess gwan an' bun some weed, mon." After all, you're one of us, right? And after a few deep draws on that skliff, you decided it was indeed a good idea.

Yah mon, yuh know mi.

I'm that smiling dread who told you, "Wi muss tek one trip inna de hills an' see deh ganja fields dem, cuz you a one-a mi I-dren, you a ragamuffin fi true, seen?" And then I told you where to rent one criss cyar so we could make a serious tour to the country and you could see the Real Jamaica.

Yah mon, yuh know mi.

I'm that smiling dread who told you that tourists,"Couldn't hangle deh ruff roads" as I instructed you to slide over to the passenger's seat while I slipped behind the wheel. And then I said, "We muss mek two more stops fi pick up chree more bredren," before we pulled into the gas station with the "T+E+X__+O" sign to fill the tank. My friends and I share the wealth. When one of us hits the Tourist Jackpot, we all climb aboard the gravy train.

"Ragga, wi wan some Guinness fi di drive, seen?" I said. It took you a moment to realize I was speaking to you, calling you "Ragga". But when you realized you had acquired your very own yardie street name, you smiled a little smile. And moved quickly to provide me and my three friends with drinks. You didn't realize that I just had forgotten your real name.

Yah mon, yuh know mi.

I'm the smiling dread who took you so far beyond the boundaries of Negril (or so it seemed) that you couldn't believe you hadn't had the courage to do so on your first three trips to the island. What a story you would have to tell your friends back home. You got so high you knew you could never find your way back to Negril if you had to drive yourself, so you were happy to have us guide you and show you the runnings and give us a likkle change when we brought you back to your hotel and buy each of us plates of brown stew chicken and a round of heinekens because we told you it was the right thing to do.

"Come I-dren", I reminded you, "We showed you the Real Jamaica. Yuh muss tek care a wi, a chru?"

Yah mon, yuh know mi.

But that's the sad part of this story. Yuh nah even know mi real name. Yuh nah really know me a-tall.

And I'm not really smiling.

Yuh Know Mi?
 Ink and watercolor on paper
Print available here.


Eric T. Francis said...

I just found your blog because it was linked to fourburne. your work is really good. I especially like the expressiveness of the eyes in this painting.

dinahmow said...

You "sound" so like my ol' fren' Jimmy!
Thanks for another memory trip.