For reasons I would rather not get into, I recently found myself standing outside the Portmore Mall in St Catherine holding a rather large pumpkin. Now, all that need be said is that I was holding the pumpkin for a fellow who was up in age and who needed his hands free to effect a change of socks.
I didn't question why he needed to change his socks. He just told me that he did and asked if I would be kind enough to hang on to his pumpkin while he did it.
As soon as the task was done and he put the worn pair of socks into the pockets of his trousers, he retrieved the pumpkin from me and walked into the mall.
It was an odd moment and I remain a bit befuddled by the whole thing.
I was left standing outside the mall looking around. It's not somewhere I've spent a lot of time. I was told that this is the unofficial centre of Portmore. It seemed about right. It was early afternoon on a Wednesday and there was quite a large number of people walking about.
I saw a woman standing in the limited shade of a street sign. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans pants and a white blouse. She beckoned for me to come closer. I did, and she smiled, asking me if I was aiming to take a taxi to Spanish Town.
"Because if you stand up there dem gwine pass yuh," she said. I thanked her for her advice but told her I in fact was not seeking to do that.
"Oh, tru mi see yuh standing up," she said.
I asked her what she was doing there.
"I really coming from inside. I just buy some new shoes for my grandson. Him starting school in September. I going to the dentist now to pull two teeth," she said.
Mi nuh fraid
I asked if she was nervous about parting with the teeth. She chuckled. "No sah! Mi nuh fraid. Dentist seh dem haffi come out, so what to do?"
I wished her the best and walked further up the road. There, I came across Lileith, a jovial seller of confectioneries. She was sitting calmly behind a table laden with her stock. It was close to the roadway. I offered a cheery hello and Lileith smiled. I asked her how sales were going. "Is slow time now, man," she said. "Like later on when more people passing, it will pick up."
I asked her if she had been selling there long. "Yes man, mi selling long, but not right here," she said. "I move all about. I was into the mall parking lot one time and den mi move and come right here."
She told me what it was like selling in the heart of Portmore. "Well this section of Portmore is really a busy little place, you know," she said. "Portmore is really a city by now, even if dem don't want to say it. Portmore have nuff working people, and so you have to come out early and catch them and den wait until evening when dem come back. It have a lot of noise, too," she said.
"You just have to know the runnings. You might think Portmore noisy and chuck up, but when you get to know it, it manageable, man."
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