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This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Shattered Illusions

The dim streetlight outside painted a sepia tint on the peeling wallpaper in Leroy’s Brooklyn apartment. Each day, the memories of Jamaica grew more vibrant, clashing starkly with the muted colors of his current life. The distance between the vibrant island and this towering city seemed immeasurable.

He was startled by a knock on his door. Mrs. Johnson, a once-vivacious woman now with shadows under her eyes, stood there. She carried the weight of a decade in America, each year adding another layer of longing for home.

“Leroy, yuh face look drawn out. Wah really a trouble yuh?” she asked, a worried note in her voice.

Leroy sighed deeply, “Mi jus’ cyaa adjust, Mrs. Johnson. Back home, even when di rain nuh stop fall, wi still find reason fi smile. But yah suh, everything jus’ feel… stifled.”

She nodded, understandingly, “Mi know wah yuh mean. When mi first came yah, mi thought di streets woulda shine bright like gold. Instead, dem grey an’ crowded. Di hustling neva stop. An’ di cold! Nuh mention di wintertime. Mi skin still nuh use to it.”

“An’ di food!” Leroy exclaimed, “Everyting taste so… artificial. Mi miss di realness of our food. The real jerk chicken cooked ova pimento wood, the fresh fish straight from di sea.”

Mrs. Johnson chuckled, “Don’t remind mi. But remember, every place have its good an’ bad. Yah suh, mi pickney dem get education opportunities we couldn’t dream of back home. And healthcare better. But still, mi heart yearn for di simplicities of home.”

Leroy leaned in, “An’ di community. Mrs. Johnson, mi remember days when if yuh neva have salt, yuh coulda jus’ ask yuh neighbor. Ova here, people live side by side for years an’ don’t even know each other’s names.”

She placed her hand on his shoulder, “It hard, Leroy. But remember, we haffi be di change we want see. Wi haffi bring our warmth, our community, our culture to dis place. It won’t be Jamaica, but it can be a home.”

He met her gaze, seeing the blend of sorrow and determination there. “You’re right. We might be here, but wi can keep Jamaica alive in we hearts an’ actions.”

They sat together, reminiscing about their island, the laughter, the warmth, the community. It was a balm to their souls, this shared connection to a place they loved.

After a while, Mrs. Johnson stood up, a mischievous glint in her eyes, “Leroy, mi have an idea. Why don’t we start a little gathering? Every weekend, Jamaicans in di building come together. Share stories, food, music. Make dis concrete place feel a likkle more like home.”

Leroy’s eyes brightened at the idea, “That sounds wonderful! Let’s do it.”

And so, amidst the concrete and steel, a small pocket of Jamaica began to flourish, reminding its members of the island they held dear, and teaching others the beauty of its culture.

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