I was ah mere child when de PAN JUMBY jumped meh! But now, when ah tink back, wha wud one expect coming out of de Land of Calypso, Steelband and Limbo. Yes, sweet Trinidad & Tobago!
I remember my early childhood years in Trinidad as if it was just yesterday. Mammy, my grandmother, would put us to bed. My sister Pat and I shared a bedroom and in no time Pat would be in dreamland and I, once again, as what seem like ah ritual with me, lay in bed in de darkness tinking, tinking, tinking...tinking ‘bout PAN till I, too, eventually drifted off to sleep.
Suddenly! Out ah de clear blue I’m awakened by the sweet strains of steelband music ringing [in meh head] like it right in meh bedroom. Ah jump out meh bed in ah frenzy. De sweet rhy-dum ah de PAN music setting meh off like ah catch ah kal-keh-tey© in de blackness ah de nite. Starry-eyed ah dash over to de living room which was just outside meh bedroom to take ah look out de window onto Carib Street in San’do. Ah keep looking and looking expecting to see de steelband right in front de house. Ah looking up and ah looking down de road expecting to see it any minute, but there was never nothing in sight!
Maybe, ah tell mehself, it coming from Coffee Street side — meanwhile, de music only intensifying [in meh head] — so ah rush over to de kitchen window which gave view to Coffee Street to see if de steelband coming down [in meh head]. Like it right in front de house [in meh head]. But ah really hearing it [in meh head]. Ah can hear it coming [in meh head]. Ah know it coming and it really drawing nearer and nearer [in meh head]. Something like: ah ping-ah-ling...ah-ping-ah-ling...ling...ling...ling...ah-ping-ah- ling...ah-ping-ah-ling beating [in meh head]. Like it right in de room but it really [in meh head] and ah looking to see de band but no band in sight!
Is de PAN JUMBY dat really hit meh [in meh head], and SHADOW’s “Bass Man In Meh Head” really brought dat all home to me yes when ah heard it. Ah know to mehself cause ah wud really hear de PAN self and wud get up looking out de window to look for de band coming down de road. Back then ah couldn’t ah comprehend it all eh cause it was all [in meh head] but ah know it really occurred eh!
Now de PAN JUMBY stay and stay with meh. Ah move to and fro in PAN circles. Ah cah beat ah note but ah really love meh PAN eh! Ah even winded up having a Panist and moved on Woodruff Avenue to be near to de PAN Yard there. Ah realize too dat de PAN JUMBY it all over de world eh and ah believe its de same PAN JUMBY dat have meh right here on Woodruff—in de heart and home of T&T—and dat all yuh too is ah set ah PAN JUMBIES! When ah dead dey better put meh in ah PAN coffin like Rudolph Charles wee, so ah could come back ah PAN JUMBY and jump some bodies! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
by: Hazel John © Pan Jumby 8/2/97
Hazel John is a free-lance writer and poet. She has five children, three girls, ages 28, 21 and 8 and two boys ages 23 and 18. Her parents and grandparents (The Johns) owned and operated Circle Inn Restaurant and Bar which were at two locations on Coffee Street in San Fernando, Trinidad. They migrated to the United States when she was just a teenager. Hazel has been residing in the U.S. for 35+ years now.
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