Taking A Walk

A short text asks the question “Do you remember…?”

I don’t want to remember him, even though I do. I see his face, a face from university days. A friend of my then boyfriend, his manner introduced me to the word louche before I even knew what it meant. World-weary, cigarette hanging from lip, word warrior at the ripe old age of 20. What did he or we know of the world, certainly not enough to make us weary? Not yet anyway.

I don’t want to remember but I do. I ask the next question while anticipating the answer. I expect to hear and do that he is dead. He went for a walk on Easter Sunday afternoon in a better part of Kingston, with his two year old child*. He would have gone walking some hours after we had finished a slow lazy brunch at a gastro-pub in a better part of Crystal Palace. “We” consisted of a party of three ex-pat Jamaicans, a German husband and a visiting Jamaican mother. We had laughed and fulminated as we always do on why we are here and not there. Why can’t we take a walk?

I know why I left Jamaica. I wanted to go for a walk. A simple walk. Down a street, across a park, to the bus stop, to nowhere, to somewhere, to anywhere. To take a walk where I couldn’t predict where I would end up. Where I would stop when I am tired and have a drink of water, lemonade or wine. I wanted to take a walk where the last thing I thought about was being robbed, raped or murdered.

I went for a walk on Clapham Common on Saturday. I walked out in sunlight and came back a freezing, chattering mess. But on the way I saw parents with their children, people with their dogs, weekend exercisers being fooled by personal trainers. The intensity of the boot camp cannot cover five days of sedentary sin. Just people, just walking, just living.

You can pay a heavy price for wanting to take a walk. You may have to walk away from all you know, shut down your life, pack up and move away forever displacing family, friendships and yourself. And you never become accustomed to the phone that rings late at night with the Jamaican area code attached that makes your heart race until you realise it’s just a friend who forgets the time difference calling to say hello, shoot the breeze. You never become accustomed to the being ‘away’ ness. Or you may open the door and step outside with your two year old son and never come back. Taking a walk isn’t as cheap as it should be.

Now I have reason to be weary.

R.I.P. Gregory Archer

*A newspaper article published in one of the Jamaican dailies provided additional details and changed some of the narrative in this post. The article can be seen here. Gregory was killed on Good Friday not Easter Sunday. And he was with his nine year old, not the younger child. This is one time when the details hardly make a difference. They don’t change the monstrous reality. A family is left in eternal turmoil at the cost of a gold chain. Gold and Easter, I can’t think of an eternally unhappier pairing.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Taking A Walk”
  1. GEORGIANA says:

    SELAH!!

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