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AS BAJAN AS FLYING FISH: Best of Bajan times


rhondathompson, [email protected]

AS BAJAN AS FLYING FISH: Best of Bajan times

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My name is Otalyn Hall and I worked as a maid all my life until I retired some years back.  I born in Lodge Hill. I went to school in Cave Hill at Edghill Memorial Girls’ School. This year is 25 years I’m at Cave Hill but I still prefer Lodge Hill. It’s the best part of Barbados.  I liked maths at school. We used to call it arithmetic at the time. And English. I still read now but only the newspaper and the Bible. I prefer the Bible. I haven’t read the whole Bible, just certain parts. I don’t have a favourite part. I read Exodus, Psalms, Revelation. I believe we’re in the end times. I come from a fairly big family. Three sisters and two brothers. I had five children myself, three girls and two boys.   I have, call it 12, grands and three great-grands.  I go to church at Sharon Memorial Church, St Thomas, nearly every Sunday. I’m a strong believer. I know there are people who aren’t sure about God but I’m sure about him.   I was worried about the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan. I feel real bad about it, especially the little children. But you know God is everywhere and what he don’t allow, he sends. God know what to do. I never went to secondary school.   I’ve seen plenty of changes in Barbados. People still polite, though. We used to play rounders and bat and ball when I was a little girl. We didn’t have nothing like road tennis in my time.  Life was easy when I was a little girl. Things was cheap, but still you couldn’t get them like now. I feel this life now is better than when we was coming up. We didn’t have electricity. We grow up with lamps. I seen a lot of changes in Barbados. I really can’t identify all. Got nuff cars on the road, plenty traffic. When I was coming up, they only had two bus running, now they got plenty bus on the road. When we were coming up, had a lot of barefoot people and everything. They ain’t got nothing so now. This time is better than before time.  I follow West Indies cricket plenty! I like Garry Sobers and the Goddards. I saw Garry and what that last one’s name? Lara! I like those two.  I used to go to the cricket at Kensington Oval on Saturdays and Mondays, when Garry was playing.  What I do for relaxation is just ride around on my bicycle. I’ve been riding again for about 18 years now. I used to ride before, ride to work in Clermont and back, but then I did stop. And then I went back riding to same Clermont.   I don’t like to ride the bicycle but I got to do it. Because of the foot. For exercise. I got a bad foot. I can’t walk so far, so I’s ride. I go Clermont. Sometimes I go look for family up Lodge Hill.  I listen to Brass Tacks on days. I like calypso, too. My favourite calypsonian is Red Plastic Bag. I really don’t know much about Trinidad calypso. I only know Sparrow by seeing him on the TV.   I used to smoke cigarettes but I stopped about 18 years ago. I wouldn’t say smoking cigarettes is good or bad, but it did good for me at the time. I smoked for a while.   I used to drink a beer. But I don’t drink it now.  I’m in good health. I only have bad circulation. I get exercise ’pon my bicycle. I ride for an hour or two at a time. Not every day. Certain days. Maybe Saturdays or Tuesdays. Those special days. I feel tired at the end of it. I sleep a whole night after that.  Sleeping is lovely. But I’s can’t remember my dreams.  I never travel out of Barbados yet. And I don’t want to travel now. Not at my age. I was always happy to remain in Barbados.  I like to eat salt fish and rice.  I never liked pudding ’n’ souse. I started work as a maid in a private home. I did that all my life. I did everything: cook meals, clean, wash, iron, take care of children, take care of the house. It was a lot of work. Was. But not now.I stayed with one family for my whole life. They became like my own family. They’re still living. They come and look for me regular. They came yesterday. They have children and grandchildren themselves. The best thing about that work was the cooking.    There was no bad thing about being a maid. I enjoyed it.  I still like to cook. I cook peas-and-rice for my family still. There are friends who pass by me because they know I cook extra food for them.  Christmas is my favourite time of year. I never took part in Crop-Over. I still go to Spring Garden but I never jumped. And I wouldn’t start now! I remember Independence in 1966. I went to the Garrison to see them raise the flag. At the time, I did feel allright. The best advice I ever got was to work for a living and to work hard. I passed that on to my children. Some young people in Barbados are working hard nowadays. Some, not all. When I was coming up, they didn’t have drugs in Barbados. Nothing so. A Bajan is a person who run from rain and to fire. That’s what they say.  Barbados mean everything to me. I never went anywhere else and I don’t want to go anywhere else. Not now.

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