Vernacular

Cousin Jaan
By Berbician Kris

 

How yu do! A lat a people know me as Kris. Da is wa me miself taut was mi name. It was lang afta wen a grow up and had to sit exam dat a had to give dem me birt satificate. Da is wen I laan dat mi real name was Krishna Kumar. It was like a flim star name. Well, doan tell nobaddy. But I look lekka flim star eh? Wa you tink?

Wen Cousin Jaan fuss come to Landan, he travel by plane. It was a propella plane. He lef Trinidad Piaaco airpote in di aftanoon, Di plane stap out at Barbados den Bermuda den straight to Landan. He had fun on di trip. Mind you, at di time a doan tink Jaan tink it was fun.

He lef his nice nice home in Jashtung foreday maaning to ketch a plane at Atkinson Field to go to Trinidad. At di airpote in Trinidad he had to kick jack till 5 aclack in di aftanoon wen he bode di plane to Landan. Wen he reach Landan was aftanoon di nex day, no prapra sleep, no place to stretch hi legs.

But a go tell yu bout dat plane trip layta. Le me tell yu how come I call him Cousin Jaan. People know we call one anadda cousin, but de never ask how come?. Me daadi and he faada was close frens since de yung days. De eat fram di same plate. De work togedda in Jashtung as yung men. Jaan faada lived in Jashtung, my faada live at Rosignol. His bass sen him to do sum wuk in Jashtung.

Ova di years di two frens keep up di frenship. Wen I was a lil buy, waan Uncle Mac used to come and stay wid us at Rosignol. A neva know how he was me uncle. He always had a piece a cigrit stuck on his battam lip. He and me faada used to enjoy de beer an ting and talk talk about di ol days. We children used to call him Uncle Mac.

Years aftawads I meet Jaan in Landan. We gyaaf lil bit an a fine out dat Uncle Mac was he faada. Since den I staat to call hi Cousin Jaan. Aftarall he faada was like my uncle, so Jaan become me Cousin Jaan. We nat blood cousin, but we get aan like bruddas.

But we doan meet up aftn. Wen he come to live in Landan, he decide to go an live at Harrow, behine Gaad back. A lat a Indian people live de. Waan time when a see he in West End, di maan cut lil Hindi pan me wit ‘Kaisan haal chaal.’ Da is Hindi fu ‘How are you.’ He pick up di Hindi from di people at Harrow.

A tell yu something, Jaan vice na de dung he. Wan day wen he see me at Oxford street he call out me name. A jump and look aroun. Dare was Jaan. Di people aroun looked too. He gat a powaful vice. Wen he talk in Jashtung, yu kyan hear he in New Amsterdam. A tell yu something, if Jaan was aroun di time of Paul Robeson the famous singer, nobaddy wud a hear bout Paul Robeson. Is Jaan de wudd talk bout.

Well buy when he come to Landan fuss time, he had fun in di plane. De give him dinna and nex maanin he had brekfuss. Dinna was a lil piece a meat. He had to search fu it on di plate. Where is my meat! Den dare was tree lil potato, and some beans. Yu kyaan get fat on da meal. Up to now he kyaan describe wa di beans was. We know bout same and bora, but kardn to Jaan, di beans didn look like wa he know. He tink the meat was poke. Well, I doan know wa poke look like, so I take hi word for it.

Fu brekfuss he had ‘fry’ egg. De egg was runny, it look raw. He did ask fu fry egg. Dats wa he get. We know better now. If yu want fry egg like back home you gat to ask fu omlet. He se di food didn have no tayse. Wa you expeck. I know wa he mean. Wen yu fuss travel out a yu village, doan expeck a whole plate a rice, an fowl curry, an plaantin, an cassava, or foo foo an fry fish and all dem tasty tings you eat back home. Yu gat to teck wa yu get, staave or get use to di plain food yu get and wait till yu go back home.

Jann plane was coming in to land at di airpote. He looked down and got his firs site a Landan. Everywhere he see plenty cottages like wa de gat at the shugga istate back in BG. He was looking fu house. No sign o house. All he see was smoke coming out a di cottages. Jann se to hiself, is we I come here? Dis is nat di Inglan wa a hear about. ‘Is dis de land of hope and glory?

He couldn wukout why de was so much smoke; like the hole place was on fire, de out di fire and dats why dare was smoke. Weeks afta he landed Jaan put two and two and wukked out that the cottages he saw from di plane was terrace houses, wa we call logies at home, di houses join up. Di smoke was real smoke from chimneys of di houses. So di houses he was looking out to see did not egzist, nat in Landan.

Afta Jaan fine a place to live, he staat to look fu wuk. He went to di Ritz Cinema in Brixton to see pitcha. Aftawads he ask to see de baas. He was introduced to the Manager.

Jaan, ‘Any vacancy, Sir. I kyan sell tickets, I kyan even work in di aperating room.’
Manager, ‘What do you mean, operating room? Do you mean projection room’.
Jaan, ‘Yes, sir. Dat’s wat I mean’
Manager,‘We have a vancacy for an assistant in the projection room. Do you have a certificate.’

Jaan neva herd of a satificate to wuk in the aperating room. He tought he cud get di jaab as assistant and laan di jaab jus dere. No way. Yu had to hav satificate. No satificate no jaab. No jaab, yu suk salt, or beg. Gud ting, in di witeman cuntry, de doan louw yu to go hungry. De gat de dole. But most a we didn like to say we livin on de dole.

Aftar all we gat we pride. We na come to Landan to heng we mout. We come he to do betta, to wuk an bill we self. Evrybady I know bill up deself one way aar di odda. De children do well too and mek us proud. De mek we hole we head high. A tell yu. Jaan children do well. De na de dung he. Wan a dem, Jenny, wukking at BBC. We does see she sumtime on TV. He gat a buy who is a big maan in de guvment. An de children full a mannas a tell yu. Wen de talk to you, de na done say ‘Yes Auntie, yes uncle’ Dem children go go faar. Gaad bless dem!