A New Year
The air inside of the church was hot and the pastor’s hand was heavy on Comelia’s head as he lay a blessing on her for having achieved another year in Christ. As she kneeled on the carpet with her hands clasped, she was truly grateful and happy.
When she returned to her seat, her mother squeezed her hand and nodded, it was the day after her 16 birthday and she had just received her church’s traditional birthday blessing at the altar. Even as Elder Martin ascended to the pulpit to read the church notices, Cornelia’s mind drifted to the most recent events in her life.
After she and Janvon had shared a kiss, she did find it in her heart to tell him to tell Leigh goodbye for her and to wish her a good time for the rest of her holidays and a safe trip home. It was the sort of magnanimous act that she would not have been capable of a few weeks before.
Cornelia’s journey back to Kingston was a far cry from the trip out. The train ride had been evenly paced and uneventful. At times the carriage was hot, but when they climbed the hills it was so cool that she had closed the window to keep the chill out. The scenery through the countryside had held her interest, as did the stops at various stations where she had seen places and sights that she had only heard about before. She saw the sandy bottom of the Rio Minho in May Pen, watched sacks of coffee beans being loaded in Williamsfield, smelled sugar in the air of Balaclava, and heard the distinct regional patois of the German descendants as they were greeted by their relatives in Catadupa.
The bus ride was uncomfortable from the start. She was squeezed into a seat between two women with packages. The swinging of the bus around corners and occasional dips in the road made it impossible to read, and music that she did not like was blasting from the stereo system. The journey took several hours less, but left her more tired when she disembarked at the Pechon Street terminus. The train journey seemed so calm and effortless, as her life before Montego Bay now seemed to be. The bus ride, full of unexpected jerks and people that pressed too close to you, was the real world. She would never take a train to Montego Bay again, just as she could never return to her innocence again.
The day after Cornelia returned to Kingston, her birthday, the television evening newscast had broadcast that the police had made a drug bust where 50 kilos of pure cocaine had been recovered. Arrested were Montego Bay businessman Lorenzo “Jimmy” Barnett; Colombian national, Julio de Baretto Vargas; and Dominican Republic national, Eleguo “Coco” Lopez Puentes.
She recalled how young and beautiful Jimmy was in his fine clothes and powerful yacht; then at how close to death Precious was in her hovel, and Cornelia said a silent prayer for them both.
Cornelia had also made a repeat of her confession to her parents. Her Aunt had called ahead and warned her mother to be understanding and not overly harsh; so although it was a painful experience, it could have been much worse.
Cornelia’s broom, handmade by Ras Devon, had pride of place on her dressing table. Marissa who had come over to visit on Cornelia’s birthday had asked her what it was. Cornelia knew then, that she would not tell her best friend everything that had happened in Montego Bay right away.
Some things are best to keep to oneself, she had decided.
‘This”, Cornelia said as she gave it to her friend to inspect, “is an original piece of art. It is to remind me that I am special.”