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Surprise! Surprise!


Dey’s dis story bout ah Vagrant who died and went to Heaven like de beggar, Lazarus did in de book of Luke in de Bible. De Vagrant was full ah Surprise wid some ah de faces he saw, even more so, those who didn’t make it to Paradise; all dem Sun-dey blest people, who uses to pass him straight, hunger killing him, as dey headed foh church come-union. He couldn’t hold de Shock and Surprise no more, he turned to de Gate-keeper and said: “St. Peter, yuh sure ah dey in de right place, way all dem nice church-clothes people dey”? {{more}} St. Peter smiled and said to him: “Heaven will continue to Surprise everybody, look at de faces ah de people who made it, Like you, dey too are Surprised to see ah face like yuh’s hey in Heaven”. Ah thought of that lickle story on Chose-dey when ah arrived at de Roman Catholic Church and saw de many faces who turned out to Belto’s funeral, ah was Surprised! Belto himself might ah bin Surprised and maybe upset, wondering what he did wrong again; all his life he avoided being among us, and now in death, way he had hoped to finally find “peace and tranquility”, we had come to deceive him again and drag him back into our vicious, dog-eat-dog society.

Rebelto “Belto” Diaz, would have completed his mission on earth during his late teens and early twenties. We both wuked at de Surveys Dept back in de 1970’s where he was de Vault Attendant and dark-room Printer. He was very much into dance, modeling, organizing Fashion Shows, best of all he was lead singer wid ah lickle Band “Volume 5” later renamed “Climax”. Ah recall when de Band had problems getting ah loan from de Bank to buy its own equipment; most of de members didn’t have ah job or were temporary wukers, and it was Belto and Noel John who committed dey salaries to de Bank. De lickle Band instantly rose to fame; ah second singer was recruited, but dey was ah fall-out, Belto was side-lined! At de wuk-place he lost interest as delinquency stepped in, Belto was subsequently laid off. Life’s burdens had become ah lickle too heavy foh de budding star, Belto; and rather dan take off some ah de load, he rest down his burden, all of it and walked away from Source-higher-tea dat neither he nor most of us understand. Belto sought refuge within de Vagrant Community.

When my Kids went to St. Mary’s Primary, ah would pass him every morning at de R. C. Church office on North River Road, ah believe dat’s way Jesus does hang out pon ah morning, but I call it Vagrant Avenue, de block way most ah de town Vagrants come-mune, and it’s not foh come-union or Morning Mass, dey waiting foh dey breakfast, and it better be good or is riot. Within de Church is “de Poor-is Trust”, ah group ah caring people headed by Father Jim, an ole English, R.C. Priest. Dis Fr. Jim fellar, before he took ill and had to leave, found “inner peace”, ah strange feeling ah satisfaction one gets in providing foh de Poor and Needy. Jim and people like Dye-Ann Da Silva (she’s going to be mad wid me foh calling her name) helpers like Guy Low, Pope Paul and others, provide ah decent breakfast and lunch foh de less fortunate citizens, dah many ah we tun ah blind eye pon. In my low tolerance level, or just my ignorance and uncaring eyes, ah think some ah dem “so called” Vagrants does overdo it, dey could find some-ting to do. Dey sit dey all morning, looking quite happy, relaxing, chatting, bigging up de folks whom dey know as dey pass. Ah seen dem getting into serious arguments leading to fights. But Jim and his “De Poor-is Trust members”, overs well, dey care! Vagrant Avenue is way Belto and many more like him find solace and rescue, daily and dearly. How strange dah we seem only concerned bout de pee-doh-feel-yah in de Priesthood, but say lickle or nothing about those who care foh God’s people.

Ah listened on Sat-dey as Randy D who overs life, dedicated his Radio Program to Belto. Lots ah genuine Tributes, lots ah blame pon those who Source-higher-tea. Ah didn’t manage to get on to de program, but ah wanted to tell listeners, to save dey breath, dey’s still ah chance foh us to redeem ourselves, foh example, we can pass along Vagrant Avenue and leave off ah lickle change, maybe ah $5.00 wid de secretary at de “De Poor-is-Trust” office, so dat Belto’s surviving colleagues could get ah hot meal. Believe it or not, dey’s ah potential Vagrant in every house-hold, we never know way dey out dey waiting foh us, in de meantime we can do some-ting. Which reminds me of one ah Lie-Za’s non-cents ting she does say: “ If yuh must judge ah Guv-ah-mint, first check out de way it treats its Ole people, de sick, and de Disabled, mental and physical”. Visit de Lewis Punnett Home, de Mental Health Centre, de Milton Cato Hospital or Vagrant Avenue and yuh will overs way she saying. Maybe we could be more gentle and humane to our less fortunate citizens. At least dey’s one consolation, dah might just help us mek it to Heaven, and if it does, we would get to see Belto’s face as he interrupts his singing and shouts out “Surprise! Surprise”! And wid dat is gone ah gone again. One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.