We were young teachers, in our late teens. The world held no fears for us and we look forward to each and every day, working and playing, especially playing. Chando Narine, Leslie Etwaroo, William Rawana and Edmund Carpen are among those who are no longer with us and I want to put on record that they were all loyal and trusting and contributed greatly to our pleasures. William loved to sing of his "Bonita", Carps mooned over his unrequited love who lived across the road, hoping to get a glimpse of her, Leslie quoted Shakespeare and Chando stood guard against any interlopers. James Permaul, talked of his Eva and quoted from the Bible, Chunilall Ramkisoon sang songs of Mahendra, Julip Singh stood by with a smile on his face, Rhidas Sanichar told "dirty" jokes and Prema Sukra and Raymond Mohabir made sure that "spirits" flow. I stroked the gearcase, and joined the sing-a long lustily......songs of Jim Reeves, Bobby Darrin, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Sarah Vaughn, Patsy Kline, Richie Valens, Ravi, Lata, Mukesh and Mahendra, we knew them all and belted them out with vigour if not rhythm.
In a way, this was our rebellion from the cultural strictures that we had to live with. It was usually dark on these Friday nights and we were "well oiled" with "joie de vivre" and daring. The spot was ideally suited, away from residences (but not too far) and mid-way from where we lived, between Rose Hall and Tain. Some nights, perhaps because we were "soused", we would insist on taking/seeing each other home, and so we would be going back and forth, until exhaustion or giddiness took over and then we would literally crawl home, where parents would be waiting, a hurdle that was at times daunting, but which on most occasion, we successfully negotiated.
The next morning was a real test. Parents were waiing for any tell-tale signs of discomfort...eating was particularly testing, but a quick swim in the nearby trench, with its cool water, was the best cure, at least for me.
That bridge ( it was sturdily bulit to take the weight of heavy trucks and is still standing today), was built by the sugar company that owned the Port Mourant sugar estate and served as a meeting place for the sugar workers, who would gather there each morning, to get their orders from the "white" overseers. It fronted the garage where the train engines were housed and where the trains were loaded to take the cane cutters and other workers to the sugar fields that were miles away. It was a very efficient ststem and each morning we would stand in awe as we looked at the sun shining on the dozens of cutlasses and their honed edges, with some workers hanging on the side of the train as it sped on its way. It was a wonder that they did not fall off and/or were not cut by the many very sharpened cutlasses, inches from their faces. Sometimes on the weekend when the trains were not filled, we would jump on and go fishing or hunting. It was fun while it lasted, but that would not be for long, because in order to punish the workers for supporting the political party (PPP), that was leading the fight for Guyana's indepence from Britain ( the leader of the party Dr. Cheddi Jagan, was from there), the British owners decided to close the Port Mourant sugar factory and reduce its activities. Gradually the trains stopped running and the reduced work force was trucked to the fields.
It was the end of an era, but we made use of the bridge, which will always
hold a special place in our collective memories.
Thanks guys, it was fun and the memories are even better.
P.S. I have some other memories of that bridge which I shall write about later but for now the thoughts are too much. Should any of you out there have any stories to tell of the bridge, please share.....I.P.