Who Can't Hear, Must Feel

by Norman Samuda Smith

A brief guide to Patois (West Indian Broken English) found in the following story.


How much time you hear yu mom and dad say that to you when you was a yout? Nuff times enit? Do you remember when they used to tell you, "DON'T DO DIS - DON'T DO DAT - DON'T TOUCH DIS - DON'T TOUCH DAT! " .....And you like the mischevious child as you was, run off and do the complete opposite to what they tell you? Do you remember? Check dis....

In one inner-city suberb of Birmingham live two likkle yout man name Wendell and Leroy, they was born in England of Jamaican parents. They lived in a flat above their mother's hair boutique, of which she and her younger sister Maud, did work hard to run six days a week. Now her shop was on a busy main road where bus and car run up and down day and night; and in fear of the bwoys bein killed by one of these vehicle, their mother always seh to dem....

"Don't play out on de street, play in de back yard where it safe yu understan?"

"Well how come our friends can go to the park by demself and kick football?"

"Me nu care what yu friend dem do. Dat is fe dem and dem parents bizniz. What me and yu farda seh goes yu understan?"

"Ah mom! That's not fare man!"

This backyard have a history yu nu, Wendell and Leroy's parents move in this house twelve months before when they was six and seven. Now the neighbours on each side of dem owned an Alsation dog, and de way dem dog used to bark and carry on, was like they jus come out de wild the other day. Anyway, when de bwoys first come out to explore their new garden, de dog dem jump pon de six foot fence barkin and growlin - it come like, if they did jump de fence, they would have do some serious physical damage to de bwoys.

You shoulda see Wendell and Leroy run to their back door faster than Linford Christie yellin and baalin...

"Mommy mommy de daagy dem gwine bite us!"

Nuff time, Jean would gu roun and cuss her neighbours about how they could allow their dog to grow wild; and it was reveal in one a dem cussin session dat one a dem dogs was never ever taken for a walk since it was a puppy. So all Jean's cussin was in vain yu nu. Anyway, after a couple of weeks of livin in fear, the bwoys come to realise that the dogs couldn't jump de fence like their pet cat Smokey. Coz it so happm dat one day, when they was lookin out of their dining-room window, that did have a clear view of one of their neighbours' back yards; they see Smokey creep cross de back yard while the alsation was busy chewin his bone. When de alsation see Smokey, he rush at him. Now most cat woulda run fe cover, but no, not Smokey, he jus stand up and stare at the alsation in him eye, and like Mohammed Ali, Smokey side step de dog wth ease. The alsation run past him slippin and slidin as he try to turn himself aroun and do another run; but by the time he was ready to come again, Smokey done scurry up de fence leavin the alsation standin. Now wid dat bit of inspiration guidin dem, the bwoys tek to playin out in de yard again.

In the back yard right, they used to play Batman and Robin, Superman, imitated Spiderman by climbin the tree nuff time, and when they get bored wid playin super-heroes; they would sometime kick their neighbours fences, teasin the dogs to jump bark and growl; they they would throw stones at the dogs heads when they appeared, hittin their targets most of the time. Then de neighbours would come roun knockin on Jean's door complainin about the cuts and bruises their dogs have, and they would accuse her sons of throwin stones.

"Listen me now. My bwoys don't trow stones! They know if I catch dem doin dat, I would give dem a spankin. Gu blame it pon de hooligan dat roamin de street, ....is dem who doin it, not my bwoys!"

Jean was like dat yu nu. If Wendell and Leroy did anyting wrong and de neighbours complain bout it, she would defend her sons; but as soon as de door was shut tight, she would question dem and get de truth from dem. If she sense a lie, she would give them the punishment that fit the crime, Jamaica style. On dis one occassion wid de dogs, she felt her sons was in the right.

Now when Wendell and Leroy turn seven and eight years old, they was gettin fred up of bein lock up in de back yard all de time. Sometime Jean would send dem to de shop two doors away so dat they could buy some sweets and ting, but it wasn't enought to satisfy dem. What they really want to do was go to de corner shop which was closer to de park where their friends usually hang out and play football. So they decide dat a way of gettin out was to scrounge more pocket money from Jean and persuade her to let dem go to de corner shop by demself.

" No, I will go wid yu!"

" But mom, we know how to cross the road by ourself. "

" I seh no!"

" Ah go on mom please!"

" Alright, but be careful fe god sake!"


Now we know how mischevious yout and yout can be, these two was no exception. They would use these trips to de corner shop as cover for visitin de local park. This coulda turn out to be a serious ting if they didn't watch de time. Usually they would get away wid half-an-hour or so, but sometime de attractions of de park would lead dem to be careless. Like one time right, Jean give dem some money to go to de corner shop to buy dem sweets, and she seh to dem...

" Mind how you cross de road yu hear me? And after you buy yu sweets, come straight home, you understand me?"

" Yes mommy." they seh to her

....And they run gone to de shop to buy dem favourite sweets and ting. On their way back, they decide to take a detour through de park in de hope of seein some their friends fe a likkle while. Once inside de park, they jump pon de swing, they spin pon de roundabout, dilly-dally pon de see-saw and they kick a likkle football til they realise dat....

" OH KNOW! Is two hours since we leave home. Mommy must be wonderin weh we deh!"

So in their panic, they run home expectin Jean to be their waitin to give dem a spankin, but lucky for dem, she was too busy workin in de shp to realise how long they was gone on dat occassion. Sometime they would get some serious licks for goin to de park without Jean permission, but de growin urge for freedom mek the risks seem small yu nu. Naturally, Jean givin dem pocket money wasn't as regular as they would have like. So when Jean never offer dem any, Wendell and Leroy would try to scrounge from her, even though from past experience, they should know dat the more they ask, is the less they get.

" Move yuselves from me. Yu tink money grow pon tree? Yu both mus tink seh me stupid or someting. Me know seh oonoo want to go to de park and play wid yu friend dem!"

.....So it go, nearly every day durin school holidays and weekends when de sun decide to smile on Birmingham, and their sweet shop escape route was cut of; they climb de one tree nuff time, play super-heroes and trow stones the dogs.

Now tings come to a point where they was desperate for ideas for games and was gettin sick of the sight of each other, when on Wendell's ninth birthday, his uncle buy him a cricket bat and wickets, but not a real cricket ball. He seh dat....

" Oonoo gwine strike de ball like Gary Sobers one day yu nu, and yu might break a few window, so me buy oonoo a tennis ball instead. Hee...catch. "

Batman and Robin, Superman and other super-heroes was thrown from their minds. Instead they choose to be Gary Sobers, Clive Lloyd, Lance Gibbs and Rohan Khani instead. The fisrt ting to do was to lay down all de rules of de game. If the ball hit the surroundin fences, that was four runs. If they hit de ball into either of de neighbours' back yards, dat was six runs and they was out. The one who made the six and out, had to ask Jean fe de money to buy back another ball. Each player was to have three innings a piece, and a dice was thrown before each game to decide who was to go in first, highest scorer win. So every day dem play cricket, Leroy bein de older one, always win.

Now one summer mornin right, their Auntie Maud, (You know, Jean's younger sister who help her run de shop in de week), well she come round de house dwellin in fits of hysterical cryin. It so happm dat her fourteen year old daughter Jennifer decide to run away from home due to one domestic argument. Jean decide seh dat de conversation which was about to tek place, was not for Wendell and Leroy to sit in and listen to...

" Oonoo gu play outside. " she seh to dem.

The bwoys leave de room, but instead of walkin down de hallway, down de stairs dat lead to de back door and into de garden, they decide to stay and listen at de door as their grievin Aunt Jean describe de events leadin up to Jennifer's disappearance....

" Lord me God Jean, me nu know wha fe do!" Auntie Maud sniffled.

" Is alright Maud, don't fret yuself. Come we go use de car and see if we can find her. "

Auntie Maud agreed wid dat. So as Jean made her way to de door to run upstairs into her room, de bwoys tip-toe down de stairs and into de garden. Jean reach her room, grab her car keys and went back to de dinin-room again, openin de window she shout...




When Wendell and Leroy reach inside, Jean seh to dem...

" You two stay inside, me and yu Aunt Maud is goin out fe just half an hour. "

" Can we play outsde then mom?" Leroy asked.

" No. " was jean's reply.

" Why not?"

" In case yu hurt yuself out deh. "

" We won't. "

" I said stay inside til I come back, and don't answer de door to any stranger!"

So Jean and Auntie Maud leave de house to find Jennifer. Now Wendell and Leroy was in de middle of a grippin cricket game de day before, but they had to stop play coz they had to come in for dinner. Wendell wanted desparately to finish of de game caz he was a couple of runs behind Leroy on his last innings; whereas Leroy had no innings left and had two more overs to bowl. This was the first time dat Wendell have de chance to beat his bigger brother, so yu nu, pride was at stake. After careful reasonin about wether they should go out or not, they tek a chance and go outside to finish off de game....Leroy bowl his first over wickedly, forcin Wendell to make defensive strokes - maiden over. On the third ball of his last over, he catch Wendell leg before wicket....

" OWZAT!" Leroy wail out.

" NO WAY...!" Wendell rebelled.

" Ah c'mon man yu're out...!"

" No I ain't, that was way off target man!"

" Yu're cheatin now Wendell. "

" Jus bowl man!"

" No, yu're out, new game, my innins now!"

Wendell get vex now, he trow down de bat and run to de back door. He decide dat he was goin to lock Leroy out, Leroy suss that and start to chase Wendell. When Wendell run inside, he let down de latch of the lock, and in his vexation and anxiety to stop Leroy gettin in, he slam de door shut. As he did dat, his right hand went straight through one of the frosted glass panes...When Leroy see dat, it scare him.

" Open the door Wendell. " he said.

Wendell open de door, Leroy walk in de house carefully and stared at the broken fragments of glass, wonderin how tings was goin to be explain; while Wendell was starin at the cuts on his wrist dat was stingin him some bad ways...

" You alright?" Leroy ask him.

" It stings. " Wendell hissed.

" Put some water on it. " Leroy suggest.

When Wendell put his wrist under a cold pipe of runnin water, the cuts start to bleed and Wendell start to cry coz he never see so much blood before. Leroy start to cry aswellwhen all his efforts to try and calm Wendell down was in vain. When Jean walk throughde door a couple of minutes later, Leroy have guilt written all over him face, but Wendell was well please to see her.

" What happen?" Jean ask slappin de two of dem.

A tearful Wendell and Leroy explain to her wha gwan....

" Didn't I tell de two of you not to play outside?"


" Yes mommy. "

" Now look what you do to yu hand. Oonoo too hard ears!"

She exclaimed slappin de two of dem again...

"...WHO CAN'T HEAR MUST FEEL!" After she finish cuss dem, Jean race Wendell to East Birmingham Hospital where he cry some more when he recieve twelve painful stitches.

Who Can't Hear, Must Feel by Norman Samuda Smith

© Copyright 1998. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

TimBookTu Logo

Return to the Table of Contents | Return to Main Page