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The Best Thing That Happened To Me

 

Joy Roxborough writes a reflection of life's experience by one, or many, of those who came alone by sea from their Caribbean home on Empire Windrush  ..... and met the love of their life ........ and the challenges those in mixed marriages faced. 

 

The Best Thing That Happened To Me

 

What a sight - for almost a month!

Just sea and sky; sky and sea,

Sailing the Windrush to the Motherland

Surrounded with people like me

 

All looking for a better life

Hopeful years stretching ahead

In this land of promise and plenty

Just like the advert said.

 

We finally docked at Tilbury

And oh my! What a sight!

My feet touched down on British soil

But I would soon be in for a fright.

 

From out of the Clapham Shelter

We went our separate ways;

I soon missed the friendly faces

And I froze under the hostile gaze

 

Of people who were different from me

And didn’t want me here;

And certainly not in their houses

They made that very clear!

 

No blacks - No dogs - No Irish

That’s what so many signs all said;

So when I ask to marry Jack’s daughter

I think he was going drop down dead!

 

Thinking about it now

I could of choose an easier route

Instead of this one where you family

All think of me as a brute.

 

Yes, that black bastard they call me

Who tell you to bring him here?

What next? A black bastard pickney?

I think that was their biggest fear.

 

I know you had it rough too

Your family throw you out;

Tell you to choose between me and them

What was that all about?

 

I wouldn’t have been vex if you choose them

After all, what did I have to give?

I couldn’t even offer you

Somewhere decent to live.

 

But you choose me nonetheless

And how could I refuse?

Your sweet smile was the most welcome thing

Amidst all the abuse.

 

And you stand at my side, took all the insults

As we walked from door to door

No one was willing to rent us a place

And when I couldn’t stand it no more—

 

You said, ‘Don’t give up! Never you give in

‘To the bigotry and hatred and spite.’

And you squeezed my hand, wouldn’t let go

As I remember, we walk nearly all night.

 

Till a little old lady, I thought she was blind,

Said, ‘Why, do come on inside.’

‘Sit by the fire, I’ll brew us some tea.’

Her heart was open wide.

 

Turns out she herself was Irish

Called us her son and daughter

And loved our little bairns

Before you even broke your water.

 

And through all these years

Sixty in total — our Diamond Jubilee,

After boarding that ship and sailing here

You’re the best thing that happened to me.

 

Joy writes in English and Jamaican, or sometimes in a mixture of both - just like Jamaicans do. Designed to be performed, the way this poem is written refleccts this.

 

 

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