Short story: Rhythm Play

Intro: The issue of the impact of Dancehall music on our Jamaican society is quite topical, specifically on the behavior of Youth.  While traveling around high schools, it was observed that many of the buses transporting students are buses playing loud and lewd music.  The buses are usually driven at high speeds while being swayed and in common terms “jook”-

Look at them-young neatly outfitted in their starched uniforms.  They quickly enter the “Passa-Passa”, the “Weddy-Weddy”-oh foolish me, eager to be on my way-enter their bus.  They seem as if they can think don’t they?-they couldn’t possibly.  “Why then would one, wearing such an innocent look, walk into a bus filled with sexual and violent lyrics, driven by drivers who are consumed by these words and who drive like mad men to prove this?”

 “I think it’s time we tried the new bus “Young Blood”-it seems everyone takes that bus!…

I feel quite odd taking a taxi to school”

Angel said, shaking a little as if the thought of disobeying her mother’s wishes had sent shivers down her spine.

 “Not me!” Shen-Shen shot back!

Me not taking dat, you eva si dem wen dem coming out?-full up a sweat an looking untidy?

 “Well maybe it’s because they are hot, haven’t you noticed that the door is always closed, the windows and all? That surely is the cause,”-tried to justify the activities.

 “No mi say!-come met we wait pan Mr.  Jones taxis as usual-watch dis one”

It was the bus driver of ‘Young Blood”, sporting the popular cane row hair style and the latest “boot-cut” pants; stitched tightly at the knees-(the spangy).  He walked swinging the keys around his finger and rocking to the “gun-tune” playing in his bus.

The conductor, similarly dressed, effortlessly guided the students in the bus as if they knew what to do.  Boys at the back first, then girls sat on their laps; Just then, Mr.  Jones pulled up by Shen-Shen’s feet and smiling his broad toothless smile greeted the girls

 “How are my angels this morning?”

 “Very well”,-Shen-Shen replied, in a hushed and subdued tone of voice

 Angel didn’t answer; she was busy contemplating whether or not she should try the bus.

 “You coming?”-Shen-Shen asked.

 “No, I’m taking the bus”.

 She eagerly walked over to “Young Blood” and quickly disappeared into the dark space.  Anger filled Shen-Shen, disappointed filled Mr.  Jones.

 “Shen, what happen to her this morning?-such a condition don’t fit her”

 “She lucky!-drive Mr.  Jones”

 Angel had to sit on a boy’s lap; Odaine was in sixth form while Angel was only in grade nine.  She felt somewhat uneasy and Odaine, sensing her discomfort; debated whether he should relinquish his seat.  Still unresolved he rose and told her to sit.

 “Yow don’t do that, you know how it work dawg-a “lap-up” ting-the conductor instructed.

 Angel had no choice.  Everyone was doing it and so she had to.  Beads of perspiration ran down her back, she refused to look at anyone….Is this, what it is al about she thought but dared not ask.

 The driver drove off-

 “Yow “dads”, music time” shouted someone from the back.

 “Alright mi boss”

 Immediately-RDX-“Ben ova” was selected, sung by one of those artistes Apple’s mother frequently referred to as the devil! Filled the small space and overflowed outside.  She felt guilty and lowered her gaze even more as she watched her school mates “wine” to the “Boom-Boom” rhythm and sexual lyrics, while they sang on top of their voices.

 “What am I doing?’ Angel thought-Mom was right, I shouldn’t be here”

 The driver swayed and “jooked” the bus.  It was as if everyone was consumed by the lyrics, this was indeed a driving Dancehall.

 “Run dat again boss-a daggering we say!”-Odaine shouted.

 He grabbed Angel and started to dance with her like the others were doing.  Angel felt denied of her self esteem, she felt she was in a world of aliens.

 “No!-No!-Angel shouted,

But the music devoured her voice, she shouted even louder this time’

“Mi say no!”

 The driver stopped’” Babes a wa wrong?”, a note of annoyance in his voice.

 “You call that driving?-I can’t even stay one place while you sway the bus like a maniac!”

 “Yow tek a taxi my girl”

 The conductor slammed the bus door and the bus drove off.

 “I am so stupid-Angel said, I’m not an angel, I’m a damn fool’.


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