Montego Bay is a city of

Montego Bay is a city of oldies but goodies. It is a testament to faded glory fallen on hard times, the ageing beauty who primps and prevaricates in an effort to conceal her wrinkles and rolls of fat. It is a city where close-ups reveal cover-ups, where everyone knows someone but no one really knows anyone at all. It is the city of unmet expectations, heartbreaking realizations and unending speculations. Here, dreams flourish and perish in the same breath. Here, the bar is set so low it crushes spirits; and the word on the street is: escape.

Escape poverty
Escape school
Escape prison
Escape your job
Escape your bills
Escape your baby father
Escape the rules
Escape the streets
Escape the country
Escape this life

Ours is a city of unsatisfactory repatriation, untimely remuneration and. . . occasional salvation. The motherless barrel child ran away from home and is now trying to sell you guineps at fifty dollars a bunch on the side of the road. The government clerk supplements his income with lists of phone numbers and a voice his own mother wouldn’t recognize. And every Sunday the churches on every street corner sound clash with the cars that drive by blaring dancehall tunes. The fashion segment is of course a contest between the skimpily clad too-young girls in the cars and the sedately dressed, mothball-smelling mostly retired congregation in the pews.

We are an endless line of failed attempts marching inexorably toward that graveyard of cities and towns, stripped of our dignity and left to wither.

Yet we are a city of sunlight-and-sparkling-water, with fathers who love their daughters and bosses who think to give brawta. Where our concerns are never as close as the coastline; where we can always afford to have a good time. Where morality overlaps like shore and sea. Montego Bay, ah, Montego Bay, times is hard.

But so are we.