When I was a boy growing up in Belize, British Honduras, as I look back now, I actually thought I was something special, because of a few academic successes. Powerful forces in the society had plans for me, again looking back, and that was the reason I was riding high, so to speak. There wasn’t anything that special about I.
I definitely began to realize the truth of my humble reality around 1969, 1970, when one of my younger brothers, my parents’ fourth son/child, began to become ill. He was under Father Ronald Zinkle’s thumb at St. John’s College Sixth Form when I, having returned from an American university the previous year, began to attack Zinkle on the UBAD rostrum. Life was turbulent for me at the time, and I did not realize how vulnerable my little brother was in school. Whatever the truth, I will always feel a certain amount of blame for Stephen’s deterioration.
My parents had already moved to Belmopan in the latter part of 1970, when a police officer named Adolph Brown, if I remember correctly, came to see me. He was in charge of taking you out when you were being tested for a driver’s licence; at least that had been the case in 1964/65 when I had been tested at the age of 17. You used to have to navigate the very tight Albert Street West/Berkeley Street corner, and stop on the Pound Yard Bridge, then move upwards without jerking. Remember now, there were almost no automatic transmission vehicles in Belize in 64/65.
Mr. Brown said that my younger brother, Stephen, had slapped his teenaged son for no reason at all. This would have been a traumatic incident for young Brown. I realized the situation required decisive action, so I went looking for two of my other brothers – Nelson and the late Miguel. We found Stephen in the middle of the Belize City Swing Bridge about 7:30 the night. He had a knife in his hand, and there was a great stress in his eyes.
As a family without substantial resources, I figured we had no choice but to take Stephen for treatment to the Seaview Mental Hospital, where the late Wallace Coleman was then in charge. This was a terribly painful decision, because I loved my brother deeply, and I knew the record for recovery from these psychological crises was not a good one in Belize.
My brother was up and down for years, until by the early 1980s when the mental hospital moved to Rockville. There, things became dread for my brother, because the various psychotic drugs had crippled him up (my opinion), and you had to fight for your food at Rockville. The place was isolated. It was a very bad situation.
In 1988, my parents were spending Easter at Spanish Caye when the Rockview authorities called me to say my brother was dying. I went to the emergency room at the old Belize City Hospital on Eve Street, whereupon Stephen was transferred to the general ward. The truth was, as it turned out, that he was starving to death.
Returning from holiday, my mother took him home after a few days and cared for him for thirteen years, until he passed in 2001. This is one of the reasons my late mother is looked upon as a saint in our family, because she incurred serious hernia strains while caring for Stephen, but never complained.
About 12 to 14 years ago, the mentally challenged son of a rich and famous lawyer who lives in my Buttonwood Bay neighbourhood became obsessed with me and my family, for some unknown reason(s). He began to stone our home during the night at odd times. He has broken gutters, windows, pipes, air conditioners, automobile windshields, and raised ruckuses in the middle of the night from time to time. He has even stoned during the day, in full view of our neighbours, which endangers law-abiding citizens and children.
His father is a rich and famous attorney, and it appears that the father cannot bear to institutionalize his son. He knows well of what has been going on. My family and I have become totally stressed by this harassment, and that is why, after all these many years, I have felt compelled to go public. This is a hard decision for the father, I understand that from personal experience, but mentally challenged human beings are, ultimately, sometimes dangerous to innocent citizens.
The most sensational example of this in my experience occurred in March of 1976 when a lunatic called “Actually” shot down and killed a well-loved fisherman named Winston Tillett, known to us as at Mike’s Club fondly as “Punch” or “Puppy,” on Victoria Street in Belize.
Punch was a really fine gentleman, salt of the earth. He never even used a curse word. All he would say was, “Deegans.” His only vice, as far as I knew, was cigarettes. (This incident was the headline story in Amandala way back on Friday, March 19, 1976.) The tragedy was compounded, for us at Mike’s Club, by the fact that just two weeks before, Punch had saved a baby girl from drowning in the Haulover Creek near Mike’s Club.