Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Pajama Story

“That cat” was majestically occupying a favorite position at the head of the bed. Loud purring with an occasional swishing of the tail and stretching legs indicated a decision to stay. This was what Shirley had also decided. After all, “that cat” also was known to be helpful in pouncing on the lizards, which came through the unscreened windows. There were no screens on the windows of our home in Jamaica, which did not disturb us. In spite of all the good qualities possessed by “that cat” and Shirley’s insistence that the cat deserved our loving care, it was not the cat but the hundreds of fleas that swarmed into our sleeping bodies that I found objectionable. “If that cat stays, I go,” I announced to Mother. That was the decision, and I moved to the sun porch at one end of the house. Mother had made café curtains to pull closed on the three sides. My Jamaican friends jokingly advised me to keep the curtains pulled closed at all times, especially during the bright new moon of the tropics. The golden beams would cause hideous disfigurement, “and don’t forget the duppies ghosts,” was the advice. Besides, the soft lacy Poinciana leaves outside the window did not completely obscure the view from the sidewalk outside which led to the porch of the boy’s dorm. The sun porch was a great solution. The disappearance of “that cat” was a mystery.

We now adopted a new sister, Marilyn Pond, who would live with us and attend College. On weekends and holidays she would live with her parents in Kingston. Marilyn was an exemplary sister and shared the room with Shirley. She practiced the piano, studied, ironed her clothes and proved to be all the good things we could hope to emulate. Also, she would occasionally invite us to spend time with her in Kingston. She was the only child of Patsy and Douglas Pond and we admired the views from the Hope Gardens and Port Royal. We could shiver at the stories of pirates and “obeahs,” and envision the great earthquake when Port Royal sank beneath the waves, all as a justice shown because of the wickedness in that city.

One weekend when I was visiting Marilyn, we decided to play a trick on her Dad. Marilyn brought his pajamas into our room, and we proceeded to sew them in tight stitches. When this was completed we tied the arms and legs into many knots, giggling nervously. They were hung back in the closet and we waited for bedtime. We had all retired when we heard mumbled exclamations, “Look what those girls have done!”

Steps were heard going down the hall past our door. We were trying not to laugh over our enjoyment but wondered what vengeance was planned for us. Quick as a flash we decided to prepare by assuming the role of innocence. We knelt together on the side of the bed as though we were saying our prayers. Right then the door opened, a voice pronounced, “This is one time your prayers will not help you,” and we were in perfect position for the skillet, which descended in the appropriate places.

We always enjoyed this joke, and especially that we shared families which were able to accept jokes and reciprocate in their own time.

In later years, Douglas Pond was to officiate at our wedding and Marilyn and Don (her husband) would drive us from the church.

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