Many of us in the diaspora continue to dream of returning permanently to our homeland some day. There are others, who've vowed never to return, and still there are others who're undecided.
"Why did you leave Jamaica to come here?" That's a question I've been asked repeatedly by people who've gone there on vacation and can't get over the beauty of the place. They'll never understand the hardships behind the tourism curtains and that beauty doesn't necessarily put bread on the table. As cruel as that may sound, it's the cold reality. Truly, Jamaica has been blessed by the Almighty with all the beauty you can imagine - from the rolling hills to the plains and from the pristine beaches to the roaring rivers and waterfalls.
We in the diaspora seem to appreciate the beauty of Jamaica now that we're not living there. It can be a challenge to accept the beauty while you're there as you wake up each day with it and take it for granted. But on a freezing winter morn when temperatures come with a vengeance, only the thoughts of the refreshing sea breeze and the burning sun can offer some comfort...some hope that one day you'll return to it.
Notwithstanding the ups and downs, the decided and undecided, about returning to Jamaica to live, there are some haunting images of what's happening back home that can add to your uncertainty. I read recently of a case where a returning resident was chased out of his house and was subsequently murdered. And this has been one of a number of attacks on returning residents that have been occurring over the past several years. There are many a story to tell in this regard, and they would probably help you decided to go back or not. That's not my intention here.
My intention is to seek some answers, if they can ever be found, on why some Jamaicans tend to harbour the notion that people in the diaspora have trees in their backyards where they pick the dollars from each morning or each weekend. As ridiculous as it sounds, it's not a silly idea. The reality is returning residents are being singled out for attacks on the premise that they are loaded with cash. It's a safe assumption that those who embrace such a thought have never travelled to "foreign" to see how their fellowmen have to work endless hours to make ends meet.
On the other hand, those who come on vacation get a totally different impression. They're taken around to the barbecues and parties, shopping and so on, and erroneously conclude that life must be like that here, totally unaware that the moment you have to start paying bills or turn your own key, it's a totally different matter.
I've heard countless horror stories of Jamaicans returning home on a vacation and have been robbed and sometimes even killed. It's happening to those who live there as well, mind you, but the fact is one murder, sexual assault or robbery is too many. No one deserves anything of the sort. However, for the sake of this piece I'm writing, these are some of the negatives that are hindering some in the diaspora from returning to live in their homeland.
One man told me recently "I don't bother 'bout de high cost of living or de bad driving. I only want to live in peace and to stop looking over mi shoulda. I work too hard here and I need to enjoy life when I retire."
The man has a point that is shared by many, if not, most of us. Many of us don't like the cold and instead of going to warmer areas such as Florida or Arizona during retirement, we'd prefer to come home from the cold.
P.S. Many thanks for those who have shown their support in purchasing my novels Lover's Leap, which has been selected to be used in a presentation on mixed-fixed relations at the 10th International Conference on the Social Sciences and the Humanities, in June this year. Please note that most of my other books are now available for a digital download on Amazon Kindle. The latest is Seven Days in Jamaica. One love.