I remember waiting for a bus as a kid in Cork Hill, Montserrat and a Jehovah witness handing me a leaflet with a poem called Paradise Lost. I can’t remember the actual poem but the title always stayed with me.
Little did I know that it was going to play such a big role in my life. Montserrat the little island in the Caribbean was paradise to me. It’s that kind of place that my brothers and I used to go off fishing for crayfish in the river, picking mangoes, collecting almonds and literally acting like we were Huckleberry Finn. So many adventures. Life wasn’t easy but thankfully I had a vivid imagination that came from a love of books inherited from my mam. My Aunty Rose and Godmother Lola kept me grounded and faithful. And even as a child I learned to be happy with the things that mam couldn’t afford to buy us. The beach, the fruit trees, music,family, being outdoors, sunshine and of course laughter . Essential backdrops for mischief.
We moved to Ireland as I was turning 11 and I think if I’m honest it was a difficult adjustment to me. I was excited and lost and I think it’s only really the last 5 years that I’ve started really feeling comfortable in my own skin as such.
I remember seeing Donnycarney for the first time. May 7th 1995 we arrived and I had no concept of what a terraced house was so I thought the whole block was my house ha. It seemed like I was 10 going onto 7 as the kids around me seemed so street wise. One of my friends saw me for the first time skipping to school in the rain. I probably looked like a weirdo but hey she’s still one of my besties xx.
There’s only two times in my life when I’ve looked at the news and thought this can’t be true one is 9/11 and the other was two months after I arrived in Ireland. My whole family sitting down tears dripping down my face. Watching sky news like it was a movie, a mountain. smoke , wait; that looks like…. The caption reads volcano erupts in small Caribbean Island. My mother numb, everyone speaking at once. The phone calls. Has anybody died that we know. Phonecalls about ash. “Does this mean we can never return home”.
We’re lucky to have left when we did. Me thinking I don’t feel lucky. Only half of the Island gone. Only?It’s a modern-day Pompeii. Should this make me feel better? It’s crazy I had such a chip on my shoulder. Hi Santis I heard your from the Caribbean tell us about it my teacher said.? No! Classmate can you talk like Cool running? No! I’m nobody’s fucking clown. New memory’s are built as the years go by.
I returned to Montserrat everything is smaller. I wanted to show my boyfriend at the time everything. But I couldn’t. We weren’t allowed to enter. Danger zone. This is real. I can’t deal with it. I’m never coming back. It’s smaller, people I grew up with evacuated to America, other Caribbean islands, Uk. Scattered. Wtf.
Present day me
I’m a Montserration who grew up in Dublin. I’m blessed. My memories are sacred. The circle of life is a beautiful but rocky terrain. The innocence of my childhood, the move, the volcano has all helped to sculpt me into who I am today. It took 20 years for me to feel realise, if you can’t change it then learn to appreciate it.
Dedicated to..all the people who have died at the hands of the eruption. To my family and friends wherever you are I love you. To the 2nd generation of Caribbean Dubs Annalise, Elijah and Noah. To anyone who has relocated and have felt lost,confused and alien. Smile and somebody will smile back.
Thanks for reading TCDub xx