So I decided to pay a visit to Whim Lancaster Auchlyne Letter Kenny Villages to reminisce a bit and to find out if a church I used to attend in Whim as a kid was still there.
I asked the driver to drop me at Whim Middle Walk (waterside) and retraced footsteps I last trod decades ago.
Some parts were familiar, others were strange. The place has changed up quite a bit, but I still saw shops I used to frequent as a kid.
The St. James Lutheran Church was there all right, but services were held at 9 am. I miss that service by three hours.
The gate to the entrance was locked, so I could just managed a quick peek through before leaving.
But I had fond memories of this church, attending Sunday School as a kid. A Hymn we used to sing still rang clear in my mind all these years, and I could still recall the words:
My mother used to dress us up and send us off to Sunday School every week without fail. And I must be quick to admit that I was not the most saintly of kids.
The pastor’s son and I used to go into the vestry before school started and pilfer some of the bread (wafers), and drink a bit of the wine straight from the bottle.
These were reserved for communion later in the day when the adults show up for regular church service.
I guess I’m using this forum as my public confession booth for things done wrong as a kid.
Sometimes my mother would force us kids to stay back for regular church service and I would always ended up fidgeting and eventually falling off to sleep during those long boring sermons that had no relevance to my pocket-size life whatsoever.
I confess that falling off to sleep during those times were the most refreshing I have ever felt.
Sleep never felt so good!
I passed by another shop that I used to pay 5 cents for a big Bun and a tall glass of Mauby. The shop still has that familiar yellow paint, and I think the name of the guy who used to serve me was Sydney.
Turning the corner I passed by the location where I was born. Of course that house is long gone and newer structures have been erected.
But I stood there a long time gazing out into the swamp that used to be the view from my front steps.
Nothing has changed much there.
We used to fish, catch birds, and Bush Cook right in this very swamp.
Not too far from where I was born is a Kali church and a burial ground. As kids we used to scale the fence for an up-close look at those seemingly frightening images in the Kali church ground.
How I use to relish the ‘Canje Rice’ served straight from the barrel whenever there was a Kali function. Eating out of a Calabash or Coconut shell of course.
After a momentary pause for a refreshingly cool Banks Beer (a simple excuse to drink in more of the local village scene), I made a beeline straight into Lancaster to relive a bit more of my childhood days.
A friend I wanted to see wasn’t home (I guess one has to text or call in advance these days), so I captured some short videos and headed back into Whim.
I tried swinging in to pay a courtesy call to our 'Local Tarzan' in Lancaster but left after it became a challenge to knock at his front door!
From across the swamplands, deep into the Whim backlands, I can hear the ever popular local song: “Coolie Bhai Dance”.
So, with the afternoon sun blazing down on my head, I walk through whim and headed right into Auchlyne.
Now here’s a familiar sight: Auchlyne C of S School.
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the ‘C of S’ stands for ‘Church of Scotland’.
Now I attended this school as a kid and I had mixed memories: The delight of playfulness in the school yard, and the dreadful reality of caning in class.
Back in those days I used to wear one piece of shirt and pants all week long (no shoes of course …and no buckta. I mean when you want to pee, you just pull he right side of your pants up ….and go straight back to playing).
The inside of my short collar used to be very dirty from all the sweating and romping around in the dirt all week long …but who cares!
As a kid I used to like a lot of sweets.
To satisfy that craving I used to take a handful of flour, mix it with brown sugar and stuff the entire mix in my pants pocket as is …without any wrapper. Every now and then, I would reach into my pocket, grab a bit and stuff it into my mouth.
There was also a big round hard sweetie/candy they used to call ‘Bullseye.' I would suck that candy all week long and it would not for the life of me ever finish.
I’ll start of sucking on Monday, give all my friends a turn to suck a bit, place it in my pants pocket as is, and continue doing so every day until Friday.
They sure don’t make candies like that anymore. Back then I think it was worth a big penny.
So, it was the flour/sugar mix in one pocket, the forever Bullseye in another, and a large Chip Sugarcake in my shirt pocket.
It’s a miracle I still have teeth!
As a kid at Auchlyne, my teacher used to hold my right hand and painstakingly teach me how to write the alphabet.
I made quite an improvement from her help, but for the life of me, could not ever begin to write the lower case or common ‘p’.
Up to today, I swear that I still cannot ever put pen to paper when scribbling or writing a letter or note and write the lower case letter ‘p’ in the midst of word. I would naturally gravitate to the upper case or Capital ‘P’.
I am dyslectic when it comes to writing that lower case letter in a word. But in the grand scheme of things, what has this to do with the price of bread?
For the life of me I can’t figure out how I made it through Common Entrance. All I could think of was play and more play.
There was this teacher who used to wear a big fat ring on his finger with the letter ‘H’ prominently engraved on it.
I must have carried the imprints of dozens of that letter on my head from the knuckles I used to have.
As for the caning? Forget it …to many to count.
There was that teacher who used to say: “You give your soul to the Lord and your hands to me!” And he used to varnish his Wild Cane, leaving a space in the middle to show that the varnish was about ¼ inch thick.
He’ll lay you across the table and “benched” the hell out of you! We were on the platform/ stage at one end of the school, so the entire school could see us being punished come Monday morning and all throughout the day until the end of the week.
Call it pride or ego, but with girls around you don’t want to look sissy and cry. The best you can do is return back to your seat and twist your butt on the bench until the sting goes away.
And dare you not go complaining to your mom at home, otherwise is more licks like peas!
I’m amazed I still have my sanity after all that caning!
I recalled struggling with the verb ‘To Be!’ I really couldn’t grasp that concept. What was that all about anyway?
Anyhow, as I passed the school, those memories come flooding back!
Am I so glad this form of brutal punishment is officially outlawed in school!
Approaching Letter kenny, I stopped and gazed at the Auchlyne cricket ground.
I used to play competition on this field …Whim/Lancaster vs Auchlyne, Letter kenny, Bloomfield and other teams.
Ruth, a good friend from Manchester High School days used to live here. It’s so nice that we can connect on Face Book.
Another friend, Lilian from the same high school lives on the border between Letter Kenny and Auchlyne.
I snapped a couple of pictures for their sake.
There was always an excuse for a ‘cold one’ so in Letter Kenny village, I spotted Roadway Inn, a local beer/rum shop, went straight in and watched a bit of IPL cricket on their small TV screen while refreshing myself with a local Banks beer.
I was enjoying a bit of relaxation when two guys came in and ordered a bottle of vodka, soda and cutters.
They sat a couple of tables away from me.
Now I’m thinking to myself …it’ll be only a matter of time before someone breaks the ice and starts a conversation. I was quite sure of that because in a Guyana rum shop scene, no one remains a stranger for long.
So I started the countdown …one second, two seconds …
Eyes made contact, heads nodded and before the three-second mark a full blown conversation had started.
The IPL cricket of course being the conversation starter.
Out of Guyanese courtesy they invited me over to their table for a drink. I declined because I can’t stand the smell of cigarette smoke and feel suffocated when breathing in the wretched stuff.
Ok, so they snuffed out their cigarettes in order to accommodate me, and I ended up at their table sipping vodka with them.
I bought a bottle as per a ‘round on me’ and we ended up chatting for several hours.
So Eastman Latchaya and his friend Vijay were buddy friends. These two goodly folks came in for a ‘refresher’ drink, with the idea of rushing back to work.
Me buying a ‘round’ kinda threw them off guard but out of courtesy they stuck around while we ‘finished’ the bottle.
In the process of the conversation, several of their friends dropped in the bar and grabbed a quick drink or two.
We talked about cricket and I mentioned that I was at the Busta Cup Finals between Rose Hall and Albion, played at the Port Mourant ground.
Eastman mentioned that his brother’s son (I think), David Latchya, was in that finals together with national players: Veerasammy Permaul and Sewnarine Chattergoon.
They told me about their families and I ended up getting to know a bit of their genealogy.
The Latchayas are very popular in Letter Kenny so I was glad to be able to connect with one of their members.
On this note, I want to say 你好 and congrats to Eastman’s niece, Gailey Balkarran. She’s a 20yrs old studying in Shangai, China.
I’m exceedingly proud of you young lady.
Keep up your studies and best wishes on your pursuits.
I’m sure you’ll be proficient in Shanghainese, the traditional language of the Shanghai region, as well as Mandarin Chinese by the time you return home.
Nín duō bǎo zhòng for now!
Who knows, maybe someday I’ll visit the Great Wall of China.
Back home, I was able to reflect on a full day. What started off as a visit to my ole church ended up with a trip to Whim Lancaster Auchlyne Letter Kenny Villages.
Making a couple of friends from Letter Kenny village was just an added bonus. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to swing by again and renew those contacts.
But for now, I’ll just prepare for my other trip to Paramakatoi.