Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh The Possibilities...

"Turn back!" men from the approaching crowd yelled. "Police down deh, turn back!" At first I thought they meant that the police were stopping and perhaps ticketing robot taxis, but as my brave (robot taxi) driver continued, I realised that this was not what they meant. The area was cordoned off with bright yellow tape: we were approaching a crime scene.

The taxi driver (having lost all aforementioned bravery) stopped his car and ordered us out. I looked toward the yellow tape and swallowed. Did he mean we had to walk past this crime scene to get to campus? He turned his car around and drove away, leaving exhaust fumes and dust to provide me with an answer.

It felt surreal: inspectors with white-gloved hands placing measuring tapes on the ground, soldiers patrolling in their army greens with huge magazine guns, policemen directing traffic away from the scene, and crowds of people behind the yellow tape at both ends of the road.

The only time in my life I've ever been close to anything like that was once in Ocho Rios when a police officer shot a taxi driver close to where I was... He did it because his pride was offended and he felt like he had to assert his authority somehow. So out popped the gun, and when the taxi driver seemed unmoved by this scrap of metal waving in his face, the officer stepped things up a notch, and with a whole crowd of women, children and men looking on... he shot the taxi driver for 'mouthing' him.

I remember it in slow motion. There was such a quandary afterward... the shot still ringing in my ears (I was that close), terrified screams, heavy boots hitting asphalt as people ran helter-skelter, my mother grabbing my hand, and looking and calling for my siblings at the same time, the sirens wailing as the police car sped away with the wounded man, the shouting mass of people stampeding their way from and to the scene, the cries of 'him nevah do nutting' already rising. I thought mob justice was about to be delivered. But the police villain got into his car and his colleagues sped him away too.

I think I lost my sensibilities for a good five minutes or so. My sense of direction disappeared, and had my mother not been nearby, I might have run in the wrong direction or stood there petrified, watching everyone else run for cover. But mommy was there, and by the time she and my father rounded us up and got us on a bus to go home, I had recovered and was jabbering excitedly with my siblings about it.

My mother was most traumatised. Her maternal reflexes snapped into full action when the incident was occurring, but by the time we reached home, she was a frail, weak and semi-senseless being. Her nerves were shot. She went promptly to bed, and for the remainder of the week, that was where she stayed, distressed at the thought and memory of what had transpired (she saw it).

I felt it for her, but, as you can imagine, when the immediate danger was past, I was soo excited at having actually been there (and my schoolmates only magnified my feeling of greatness by having me recount again and again what I saw)... I felt thrilled at having witnessed a potential murder: I even wanted to be able to claim that I saw the taxi man go down, but my spotless Christian upbringing got the better of me.

It was something else.

And that was what came to mind when I saw all the yellow tape and heard that a man had been shot. My alertness quadrupled I even had a CSI/NCIS moment (*saw a short fella in a spiffy suit walking briskly from the crime scene, talking on his cell phone with this air of self-importance and just knew he was the head detective: Grissom/Gibbs*).

As I walked past the crime scene, I unconsciously drew closer, wondering who shot this man and why... But the girl who got booted out of the taxi with me was adamant that I should not be stupid and waste time endangering my life for foolishness. Silly me pointed out that the immediate danger was past and it didn't hurt to look and listen. In response this, my fellow strandee replied, "anything is possible."

That woke me up, and I hurried to class. Because, hey, you know what?? Anything is possible.

19 comments:

Ruthibelle said...

And afterward I was thinking how weird it was that even though I felt a pang of caution at the start, it went away so quickly.

I don't see murders/crime scenes everyday, and yet the weird feeling dissolved so quickly...

Gordon Swaby said...

Exciting, I hope you can see another one soon to relate the story to me, lovely! rofl

Ruthibelle said...

Gordon, you sick, psycho!! I certainly am NOT hoping to be witness or party to any such thing for a very loong time: not until my journalistic sensibilities (and intuitive self-preservation instincts) have been properly and sharply honed :)

Will said...

i narrowly missed seeing someone get shot by the police TWICE when i was in JA... once in Downtown Kingston, and once, believe it or not, in Liguanea (right outside Hi/Lo)... very scary...

your poor mother... something like that definitely makes a person think...

next time carry a camera... i'm jus' sayin'...

Will said...

PS - the loss of your weird feeling is a by-product of the times in which we live... will also prolly hold you in good stead as a journalist...

Ruthibelle said...

WHy did this have to happen to you when you were here?? Bwoy I tell yuh!

And I know the loss of the weird feeling was evidence of desensitisation. I would love to claim that it was learning from former experienec, but I'm sure that's not what it was, lol

Believer said...

Your mother was certainly running on adrenaline when it all happened, and gathering her chicks for safety! :D Nevertheless, when she arrived home reality set in -- the "possibility" that there could have been a different outcome involving her family or herself.

As birthdays pass and with an added role of motherhood things like this have lasting heaviness. Your mom needed those days in bed to recoup.

God's protection and blessings!

Cool Destiny said...

I guess it was your journalist instincts at play why you wanted to stay.

@ Will, I always walk with my camera in case I witness something great.

Ruthibelle said...

@ Believer, I realise that now. She was just exhausted from the effort and the possibilities... it happend fast, so when the gun popped out, she didnt have time to say 'let's get out of here' before we were hearing the shot and the mad dash began..

@CD: You think so?? I soo appreciate that, lol! Of course, we must keep in mind that sensible journalism always lives to tell the next tale...

Ruthibelle said...

PS @Will, CD, I'm working ont he camera cause it's a habit I plan to develop... like I said, anything's possible... a camera comes in handy!

Will said...

@ Ruthi & Destiny: having a camera at hand sometimes even makes you notice things you might otherwise overlook... ever since i picked up photography as a hobby it seems like my vision has changed - i'm always seeing possibilities in the things i encounter on my daily journey; always considering angle and lighting... it's great... :-)

Jdid said...

i havent seen aftermaths but i've seen some crazy stuff happen before my eyes or been places where soon after i left something crazy happnened

Ruthibelle said...

you dont really want to have that experience either, Jdid

Beth said...

I'm such a geek and a nerd and wanna be a CSI guy so. bad...I would have gone and grabbed a clipboard and pretended I was "needed" somewhere....sheesh.

areyouteeaych said...

I visit the gun range quite frequently (amazing stress buster) and I know the power behind [most] guns and b/c of that, it would take so much from me to stand before a person and pierce/destroy flesh. I mean, I've seen someone shot before and the amount of emotion that has to be coursing through you to bring yourself to that point is terrifying (yet amazing.) I'm glad you weren't hurt, both times.

Also, love the comments about photography!

Ruthibelle said...

yess! Photography is awesummm! I'm glad we all agree.

longbench said...

Was this the day when someone was shot and then a boy was electrocuted? I heard about it on the news.

Its hard to say anything here. I'm working on a paper on photojournalism and war right now. From what I have learned so far, journalists are not desensitized to what they see; they channel their emotions into being better documentarians of the violence. And there is some debate about how to document that violence: whether gratuitous blood and guts are necessary, the ethics of treating certain kinds of bodies as fodder for our news orgies etc.

I have always been disturbed at our penchance for gathering around in order to get the goods and to be able to tell the tallest most disgusting tale of what transpired. For that reason, I've never actually see a lot of gruesome things because I instinctively want to remove myself and feel almost disrespectful for staring. To me, a life that is taken means that many things are no longer possible.

Ruthibelle said...

And that, indeed, is true,. A very sobering comment, Jackie :)

Ruthibelle said...

I mean Long, lol