’In Manchester Jamaica Im known as Dally, the boy whose mother left him with his grandma when he was just weeks old and never returned, while in Cross Keys, I’m known as the boy whose father threw him in a water tank.
When I was just a few weeks old, my mother left me with my grandmother. She went to an undisclosed location and never came back. No one has seen her since and Granma waited on her to come home until the day she died.
The only thing I have to remember her is a black and white photo in an identification card and an old passport.
Nine of us lived in Grandma’s house… Two older siblings, four cousins, myself, Granma and an uncle. My grandmother did all she could for us with some help from an aunt who was living in Kingston.
She was a farmer and my provider.
I met in a terrible accident when I was just four years old… It was a Sunday evening. I was walking home a mile from picking up dinner at an uncle’s house. It was three of us… my cousin, myself and a sibling…
There was a gentleman teaching his lady to drive but the car got out of control and ran over me. I got terrible chops and scars in my head and feet.
I was in so much pain but somehow I wasn’t scared, or never felt alone while under the car. In a strange way I felt like there was somebody there with me.
I spent months in the hospital. I could not walk and went right back to crawling and back in my little blue crib. Grandma would leave me in the crib while she went farming and community members would come over, feed and take care of me.
It took me a while to walk again and Grandma started putting some pressure on my father for support. Instead of helping, he took me away from Grandma.
I was placed on a taxi and sent to a house in the care of a woman I found out two weeks after was my aunt. After two weeks of staying with her, my father showed up. I was now six years old… he told me we were going for a walk… I walked behind him on the lonely red dirt road of Cross Keys.
All I saw were abandoned houses and water tanks made from stone and red dirt. He told me to sit beside him and out of nowhere, he pushed me in one of the tanks. I never thought it was intentional.
I was young and forgiving and this was my father… this was my father, although very abusive, he would not intentionally pushed me in a water tank.
It turned out the tank did not have a lot of water inside, so he handed me a stick and said ‘hold on to this boy.’ I did and he helped me out. We continued our journey until we came upon another abandoned house with a water tank in the yard.
Again he pushed me in and when he realized there was sufficient water in the tank, he left. I will never forget what I was wearing that day. It was a red shirt with three little boats on the front. My shoes had the image of the Incredible Hulk on the sides. I felt some stones to the bottom side of the tank and I mounted my Incredible Hulk shoes on the stones to keep the water just above my breast.
I was in the tank for at least two hours crying. I was cold and scared. A lady who call herself Ann and who I call my hero, heard me crying. She first thought it was a puppy. She discovered me inside and helped me out. She called the police.
They wrapped me in a blanket and before you know it, over two hundred persons from all over the district came to look at the little boy who fell in the tank. My father was there too. The police asked me how I got in the tank. I told him my father pushed me.
My father took off his brown Kangol hat he was wearing and attempted to hit me. He told the police I was lying. He told them that I wandered away to play and ended up in the tank… Me? Wandered away in the bushes of South Manchester by myself to play with friends??
That was when I lost faith in the police and the justice system. They never followed up with the investigation. My father was well known in the area so as far as they saw it, I lied. He kept me away from Grandma. I saw her only once after he took me away initially. She died in 2001 and he never took me to her funeral. That broke my heart.
I continued to live with him, sleeping in an unfinished area of the house on a piece of sponge. He abused me physically to the point where a neighbor called the police. I looked at him sitting in the police jeep while the officer asked me if I loved him. When I look at how weak and vulnerable he was, I said yes. But I didn’t love him. I never did.
While living with my father I attend almost eight primary and all-age school because he was always moving around. I went to school maybe four times in a month. When my stepmother gave me some money one day and told me I had to leave their house, it was the best thing she ever did.
I was fifteen years old and I headed back to Craig Head District in my three quarter khaki pants and shirt. It was like a welcome home party from the taxi driver who took me to the house, to my family and friends.
There, I stayed, and although I was behind in school, I managed to get a pass to Holmwood Technical. With the help of an aunt in the States, I attended school with minimal stress.
I moved to Kingston in 2008, worked and studied, and managed to get my degree in Food and Nutrition, also called Family and Consumer Science in 2014. This I achieved.
Six months ago I got married to a beautiful lady
My only regret is not having Granma around. I wish she was here to see how far I have come. She would be so proud of me. I don’t know if I hate my father or I just have anger towards him, but truthfully, I don’t want to have his name anymore. I want to change it.
I’ve come a long way. I’ve always wanted a proper education and I am still hungry for more.
Maybe one day I will not be known as the boy from Craig Head whose mother left him, or even the boy from Cross Keys whose father threw him in a tank…
Instead, people may remember me as DOCTOR HOPETON BROWN, the boy from Craig Head District, Manchester.’’