The Way I See it – Tribute to Reinford Nathaniel Baker Hughes, aka Sparrow, aka Tun

Nevispages Weekly Feature by Cutis Morton Sr 

The way I see it, we are all sons and daughters of God and he loves each one of us, with a never failing love and all of us are important to him.

Tuesday 31st December 2019, I took time out from my busy schedule to attend the funeral service of the late Reinford Nathaniel Baker Hughes.  The name sounds impressive for any Prime Minister or President of a country and I never knew that a well-known neighbour of mine, who I had known from my boyhood days, growing up in the villages of Fenton Hill and Hull Ground, had such impressive names.

Well I newa!

Growing up, we called him SPARROW. I am now learning that that nickname probably originated from his love of songs by the esteemed Social Commentator, SLINGER FRANSISCO-aka THE MIGHTY SPARROW.  He was also known by several other names such as TUN.

From the time I became familiar with SPARROW, I knew him as a known alcoholic.  His customary tantrums, when he was ‘under the influence,’ were a source of comedy and laughter.
When Sparrow was drunk, the whole world had to know.  He would say some things that would make you smile and he would also finish the dictionary of expletives anywhere between the short distance from Brino’s shop, to his home, not to mention, staggering from trench to trench.

However, there are some good things to remember about SPARROW.

I remember well that he was the one who made the biggest kites in the village. When I say biggest, I mean WATAKAMUS!  He used to put some bawlers on those kites and he used to ‘feed’ them with his unlimited rolls of cord until they got as far as Market Shop.  Sometimes, he would leave them up overnight and those things would be wailing in the sky, until he took them down.  When sober, he was always up for a good conversation and an encouraging word.

SPARROW gave me encouragement during my days as a calypsonian and believe it or not, when I decided to become a Christian when some people called me foolish, SPARROW was one of the few, to tell me ‘no study dem.’

I remember inviting him to church and he always promised that he would come—but sadly, never did.  I remember that one particular day, he promised that he would come ‘this coming Saturday.’  He was sober and he said it with such sincerity. He gave me the time to pick him up.  Well, at the appointed hour, I showed up at his house and he was not there. My wife and I decided to head off to church.

We spotted Sparrow, coming down the main road in Hull Ground. I stopped to collect something from home, not intending to say anything, as he appeared to be ‘under the influence.’  He apparently thought that we had not spotted him, so SPARROW shot off behind Booby Brookes’ house and through the nearby Ghaut.  I am convinced that on that day, not even Usain Bolt would have caught up with him.

The next day, a lot more sober and wiser, SPARROW apologized profusely for his not making it to church, with the promise of making it another time and gave me some money to carry to church, the following Sabbath.

Then he got sick, really sick and many thought that he would have died.  SPARROW survived the ordeal and came out of the hospital, a changed man.  He proudly announced to me that he had finished away with alcohol.  I was happy for him and for a long time, he seemed to be holding strain.

Then I noticed that he was frequenting the bar again and I spoke to him and he assured me that he was just liming with ‘the boys’ and that it was water he was drinking…..  Until one evening, I heard a loud commotion.  SPARROW was coming down the road in one of his tantrums, cussing from Queen Elizabeth to President Trump!

Sometime after, he was hospitalized again for an extended period and from the hospital, not being in a state to look after himself, he was warded at the Flambuoyant home, until the day of his eventual passing on December 16, 2019, at age 71.

I visited him there many times and up to the point when he was alert, he always greeted me with that characteristic smile and we would speak briefly.  Of course, I asked him to use the opportunity to give his heart to God and I hope that he did.

So, I had to attend his funeral service and I was pleased with the turnout.  I was also happy to see former Premier, Hon. Vance Amory, not only show up, but volunteer to be one of the bearers.  The funeral service was well coordinated by the Department of Social Services, with Miss Joyce Moven playing the lead role and even though it was held at the Hunkins Funeral Parlour, there was a full sermon by Pastor Eric Maynard and a few words of commendations from persons who knew him well.

Director of the funeral home, Thelma Hunkins, indicated that initially, she was directed to simply take the body to the burial ground, but she insisted that SPARROW was going to get a proper funeral service.  Kudos to Thelma!

So, Mr. Hughes’ name may never be mentioned on any Queen’s honour’s list, but because of God’s amazing grace, he may well be mentioned on the KING’S HONOURS LIST the book of the Lamb.

You see Jesus died for people like me and SPARROW and no matter what we may have done against his principles, if we seek his forgiveness before it is eternally too late, he is willing and ready to forgive us and give us a space in his eternal kingdom.

Dear reader, the decision is yours and the fact that you are reading this means that you still have time to make things right with God.  Now is as good a time as any….

That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?

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