Me Name Gone Abroad


Depression had caught up with me again about that time of my life, and had been driven by my perception that Grandma Ethel Levy would not last long on this earth. Her arrival reminded me of the time I had taken her out to be a special guest at our Mothers Day Concert at Abel Bravo School. It had been one of our important concerts in which our Choir performed at school. That night as I showed up to escort her, she appeared very impressed with it all. The girls in the receiving committee took charge of her at our arrival, pinning a beautiful corsage on her for this Mother’s Day Concert. 

This trip to Almirante, however, was somewhat of an emergency trip for her due to her illness. She remained lodged in town at her daughter and her son-in-law’s place; James Campbell happened to be away working at the Almirante Port backing bananas all day and night as one of the day laborers.

Her trip, as it turned out, would be in vain as the doctors at the Almirante Hospital gave her a doomed prognosis. They told her that the cancer that had been eating away at her was too developed to attempt saving her life through further treatment. They simply stitched her back up after they did their exploratory surgery and sent her home. Miss Levy saw no more alternative but to take the next boat back to Colon all by herself leaving us all behind in Bocas Town.

In the meantime, I would feel the sting of the terrible yen to go whoring of her sullen granddaughter. I felt even more saddened when I thought about how my name had been sullied since before I settled down into my job with the company in Baseline; and now in Bocas Town, Almirante and all the way back to Colon my name was suddenly associated with mistreating my wife. All in all I hoped to reach Panama and pray my luck would get better. At this low point in my life the old Calypso song stayed with me that went, “Slide Mongoose, Me Name Gone Abroad.” The song summed how lies could spread all over Black Panama, without a conviction or even a fair trial- even on the Black Canal Zone. And so, I would be the unwilling owner of the label and reputation of a pariah which no family would accept for union with their daughter.

It became apparent to me how I´d become a subject of conversation in Colon long before I’d even become united with that Chinese girl they called Pug. All the past encounters with guys like Pancho Brown over imagined rivalries and envying while hanging out with Pug at the Silver Club House led me to discover other things about her. But, by then my prayers in the wee hours of the night would be filled with denials as to the accusations everyone was suddenly throwing at my name about mistreating my young wife.

Pug herself, although quite soured with me, was acting out and coming and going as she pleased. She also seemed to have money all the time while I had a hard time raising any money even though I had declared myself a slave to anyone in Bocas or Almirante who would hire me for odd jobs. Neither did Pug make any attempts at all at learning to cook or prepare anything to save her own baby’s life. I become solemnly resolved that I wanted no more trouble in my life and went into a self imposed fast, hoping and praying to earn some money through honest work.

One afternoon one of the Campbell’s older kids came over saying, “Cousin Norbert want to see you Juni! ” Cousin Norbert was our landlord and I had been preparing to move out as I myself thought that the man had waited long enough for us to pay him some rent. When I reached Norbert’s house, I had been preparing my explanation about how I had been working and trying to earn the rent but had not had any luck in getting people to pay me. However, it seemed that I hadn’t had to make up any stories since in Bocas Town news and rumors traveled very fast through the Tell-a -Negro.

This story continues.

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