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The Golden Age: Part 1

Author: R.T. Budhram

Eleven years ago this summer my dad and I took a trip to Guyana, where he grew up. We flew into Georgetown, the capital, before driving for a couple hours to his parents' house in the country. Since this was my first journey to another continent, I built up my hopes.

I also prepared myself for disappointment. Pieces of conversation between my parents had floated through open doors. They talked of how the country had changed since it gained independence from Britain in 1966. Over the years, political corruption and social upheaval twisted the state into something unrecognizable. The place my parents had loved no longer existed.

When we landed, I thought of how I'd never been so immersed in such tropical environs. However, I was thirteen and childish; the intrigue wore off quickly, and discomfort replaced it. The rhythm and syncopation of the Caribbean accent, with which I was so familiar from home, surrounded and pushed me with its heaviness. All the cars were the same, and all the whitewashed buildings in the city had turned brown with shabbiness. Breathing was a chore; the air was hot, moist and saturated with odors of fish and urine. Every few seconds I felt a prick on my skin and scratched madly all the while. My dad scowled at everything, and I kept quiet.

I was relieved when we arrived at my grandparents' home. The sky seemed a bit bluer, the grass a little greener. The actual house has faded from my memory, but my recollection of the small convenience shop in the garage isn't as tarnished. It was stocked with soda, unfamiliar fruit juices, and foreign candies. Stray cats roamed the floors while fleas danced on their fur, and there was a snow cone machine on the counter with the register.

When my dad was growing up in the 50s and 60s, that shop was the envy of Sixty-Four Village. Kids from the primary school across the field lined up outside the house, sweating in their uniforms, gossiping and goofing. My mom, over from Seventy-Two Village, even frequented the house for ice cream. "She was so pretty," my grandmother said, "and just right." She had my mom pegged.

For my parents, this was the golden age. Nothing needed to change.

DMU Timestamp: March 28, 2013 23:38

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