A jumbie is a malevolent (possibly evil) and mischievous entity that plays a central part in many Caribbean folklores. I suppose they are akin to imps, sprites, ghosts, and pixies. Mocko jumbie shows, which are put on as a part of the cultural experience for tourists and during carnival parades, incorporate dancing stilt walkers who aim to colorfully represent these naughty, long-legged, and typically footless spirits. I’ve never really given the idea of jumbies much thought. That is, until they became an explanation for all of my breakdowns.
My afforementioned car has had many more compex problems than the leaking radiator I spoke of in my last post. It’s had electrical issues that no one could fathom; windows that open one day and not the next; an engine that starts in the morning, but not in the afternoon; an engine that demands a 15 minute snooze for no reason at all and without warning. Needless to say, it always ends up that the day I have eventually made it over to the mechanic, everything is working like clockwork. Worse than that, my car will turn into a cartoonishly vital Herbie or Kit, doing shit off its own back just to show how far from the scrap heap it is.
The mechanic has concluded that I have a “jumbie car”. Now, I am not sure if this is his qualified opinion or whether he is just humouring what he believes to be a stupid English woman. I admit it – I refer to USB thingies as “pokies” and also confess to going to the plumbing store and asking for the “things that hug and kiss” (techincial term: unions, as I have recently learnt). With this in mind, I can appreciate why the mechanic probably thinks it’s easier to blame a jumbie for my troubles than to attempt to explain what the actual problem is. But the issue remains – when I asked if there was anything he could do about a “jumbie car”, he simply looked at me with total miscomprehension as if I had asked him to turn off the rain or to make a rabbit come out of his hat. Apparently, a jumbie car is a jumbie car. Love it or leave it.
My laptop is also subject to the wiles of a jumbie. I hadn’t blogged for almost 2 months because it had refused to start up. Everyday, I’d diligently flick it on and everyday, for 60 days, it refused to start. But today, for inexplicable reasons, it started without question. I am now a believer – the Jumbie Factor is real. It marches in, causes havoc, and just as you are about to give up all hope, in a moment of compassion, it cuts you some slack.
In my experience, jumbies take you to the edge. They push you in the gutter, kick you in the ribs until you are about to utter your last breath or surrender, and then they offer you a cup of tea and all is forgiven.
Dear God – perhaps we are kindred spirits?
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