So I asked myself, “Self, are you really cut out for country living? After sup’n-odd years, do you have the strength to carry on?”
What’s prompting all this second guessing, thou asketh?
Well, I moved to a new rental, months ago. In St. Ann, of course. And as we say in JA, it nuh t’ree bad. The ambiance not bad at all. It has palm trees, coconut trees, a mango tree, pear (avocado) tree, banana tree, soursop tree, birds, lizards, worms, bugs, spiders and rats.
Yes. You read right. Rats. Or they could be mice. I don’t know the difference. Do you know the difference? . . . Is it really important at this juncture? Moving right along.
There are foreigners who have an idealized—and sanitized—image of St. Ann, Jamaica in their heads. Heck, they’re Kingstonians living in Kingston, Jamaica who have an idealized and sanitized image of St. Ann in dem heads.
And you know what? I rest the blame squarely on the shoulders of these touristy websites and touristy magazines and hotels. Their pages boast photos of birds, especially our hummingbird, regal in form—and more than likely poised before a fully bloomed, blush-coloured hibiscus flower.
Palm trees. What’s a photo of JA without palm trees? Local fruits! C’mon now! Plump, lip-smacking, finger-licking noice-ness! Do I even need to mention the ubiquitous white-sand beach? But not a soul teking nuh picture wid no rat/mouse/mus-mus. So unsuspecting city chicks, like I, get fool up.
And you know what’s worse? We get torn. We get caught between a rock and a hard place. Our bosoms racketh with both rage and sorrow when we encounter these fur balls. Because how in the name of all that is green and rural do you wage war against a teeny, tiny, cute country mouse? Mickey’s cousin . . . many times removed.
Well. Think dirty! Think disease carrier! Think sneaking destroyers who will stop at nothing to invade your sparkling, Fabuloso-clean living quarters! They will gnaw down your door-bottom and rub up dem likkle selves against your belongings and chew dem up. It doesn’t matter that out in the front yard or across the street or over the back fence is a smorgasbord of sweet, savoury, juicy and dry nyammings. They are coming in!
If you will just allow me a few more moments, I will tell you my story of how my touristy view of St. Ann was left in shards on the tile floor.
It was one evening before dusk. I was standing in the living room, just come from outside. If my memory serves me correctly, I had just received couple nice, fat avocado pears from my neighbours. Mi si someting fly past mi to the kitchen.
What the . . . ? Was that a . . .? Inna mi house? You have GOT to be kidding me!
Mi turn on di kitchen light, shift stove, fridge, fridge, stove, stove, fridge, fridge, stove, hoping it would reveal itself! Aaand hoping it would not.
Then mi rock the 25lb cooking gas cylinder . . . Woops!
Stick a pin.
Warning: If your stomach is delicate or you have a soft spot for teeny, tiny and cute country mice, please, turn away . . . I shall whisper to those of stronger constitution, from here on. So you won’t hear a thing.
When di gas cylinder drop, mi hear desperate squeaking. Yes. Squeaking. Mi tek time peek behind the cylinder.
Ask me what A see . . . No. Seriously. Ask me.
A tail. Sticking out. Nah move. So mi dress back. Then mi go back again go look. It still nah move. Di tail jus’ deh deh, li’ dung.
Gentle people! You know what we do in times like these when our backs are against the wall, when we’re riddled with fear and are utterly perplexed.
H-o-w t-o m-a-k-e s-u-r-e a m-o-u-s-e i-s d-e-a-d.
H-o-w t-o k-i-l-l a m-o-u-s-e w-i-t-h-o-u-t a t-r-a-p.
W-h-a-t i-s t-h-e d-i-f-f-e-r-e-n-c-e b-e-t-w-e-e-n a m-o-u-s-e a-n-d a r-a-t?
Mi dash cloves, cayenne pepper, eucalyptus oil and essence of peppermint under di cylinder. After all dat, mi buck up another article that seh dem tings don’t work.
People. I tried. I tried to be humane to Mickey’s relative. A mean, who else would waste good-good cayenne pepper pon a mus-mus?
Two days later, I grabbed broom, garbage bag, cellophane wrap, transparent tape, scissors, paper towel, vinegar and rat bait and headed back in to face le mus-mus, once and for all. After an hour and a half of squealing, sweating, bouncing around, meditating, affirming and praying, mi move di cylinder. After an hour of squealing, bouncing, meditating, affirming and praying, mi bag di mouse and run-walk wid it to the bin outside. And, yes, it was dead. Stiff, stiff, dead.
Cause of death: a heavy weight. R.I.P. little one.
Weeks later, another fur ball, who clearly didn’t get the memo, snuck in under the backdoor in the dead of night, removed the poison specially set for him and hid it behind a broom. Strike one!
Then him go tek up residence inside mi closet. Strike two, three, four and five!
The battle and cleanup were swift. Very swift.
Days later, as if my trials were not enough, enter defiant green lizard through dining-room window. I cussed it, threatened it, hurled things at it and received utter defiance in return.
I showed him the window. He walked passed it. I turned on the TV. He watched it. I shared out my dinner and sat down to eat. He crawled towards the kitchen.
Then boof ! Who tell him fi go slide and drop off the wall! I ran towards him! He ran towards me! He had no weapon. I had mine. Long story, short:
Name of deceased: Lizzy Green.
Cause of death: a heavy weight.
Note to Self: Buy new broom.
This new neighbourhood is a lot too country for me. Not good fi mi nerves. A city chick has her limits, and mi reach mine. I’m counting down the months till I ride on out of these here parts and return to civilization.
Peace and love,
Oh. Just in case your patois is a little rusty:
- Dat – that
- Deh deh – there
- Dem – them
- Di – the
- Fi – for, also used in place of the word ‘to’
- Li’ dung – lay down
- Mi – me
- Mus-mus – mouse
- Nah – not
- Nyammings – eats, i.e. food
- Nuh – no
- Seh – say
- Si – see
- Tek – take
- Wid – with