Godchild – Chapter 1

For an introduction to this story read The Cambridge Connection 1-14 first.

pexels-photo-1892989 in the public domain

June Ann Discovers Her Roots

June Ann Ewbank watched with intense interest from her window seat as the plane came out of holding pattern and began the descent to London airport. Beside her were two men who she considered to be elder brothers. They’d agreed to jet across from the US to Jamaica to collect their niece and accompany her on this journey to make sure she was properly settled in England for upper-level education.

June Ann had always treated them as brothers as she grew up in the Ewbank extended household with multiple cousins to fuss over her as she grew. It had only been in her teens as documentation was placed in her hands and passport issued that she became aware she did not quite fit into the Jamaican scene. Birthplace London, passport British? The old woman she’d always looked on as her mother was not her mother it seemed. She had so many questions needing answers, but the family would shut down or divert the subject when questions were asked. It was quite frustrating.

She’d completed high school in Kingston the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the southeast coast of the island. It faced a natural harbour protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connected the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island. Some of the Gordon clan kids at the private school were always saying she belonged to their clan and not the Ewbanks and bullied her for not being friends with them. Complaints had been lodged with school administration but while they kept a wary eye out for evidence the Gordon kids were smart enough to pick occasions when administration were not looking. The Ewbanks had one of their most trusted servants take her to school and collect her when classes finished. It was an unpleasant experience.

So that is why it was decided June Ann should complete the next stage of her education under protection of her eldest Uncle Raj Dass in the US. That is where she first learned of her British connection when a British passport was placed in her hands as she was preparing for her departure to the US. There were so many confusing issues about her family. Why had her original birth certificate been written out identifying her as June Ann Gordon and her name subsequently recorded in Jamaica as June Anne Ewbank? Why were her parents recorded as Omario Gordon and Taniyah Ewbank on her birth certificate? Why was the eldest brother she always looked on as part of the Ewbank clan called Raj Dass?

It was all overwhelming. But there in the US as her college work progressed much of the story clarified. Their ancient name in India before being shipped to Jamaica to work on the cane fields was Dass, but it was customary for those enslaved or employed on plantations to take the name of the owner of the plantation for identity. Of course, over the centuries some of those original families had formed prosperous clans and they now administered the island in their prosperity.

Her grandfather had built a travel empire and had numerous widespread assets. Their wealth had benefited the extended family and cousins helped in the administration of family assets and had all been well educated abroad. Her grandfather had died when she was twelve years old, and she missed him as he’d been her rock for nurture and protection along with the woman she’d imagined in her childhood as her real mother but now knew was her grandmother. Four years she’d been in the US with her uncle completing her bachelor’s degree in business but yearned for her return to the tranquility of the islands.

On her return she was given responsibilities for the overall management of the financial interests of the family. That appointment by her grandmother still alive and respected as the head of the extended family did cause some irritation with others in the extended family. They were used to managing their respective appointments in the business independently and using resources as they wished. That irritation was further compounded when June Ann discovered some discrepancies and questioned these older relatives. The culprits were warned by grandmother but because they were part of the clan they were forgiven. But those relatives began a quiet insurrection within the family until grandmother Ewbank called her two sons from the US to intervene. Raj Dass was considered the heir to family fortunes and his brother also in the US who’d taken the name Sunder Dass was considered next in line.

The clan quickly fell into line and peace prevailed, but the brothers understood the animosity aroused by having a young woman placed in a position of authority within the family. They talked with June Ann about it and discovered she too was unhappy with the situation and desired to complete her education and move into teaching. So, after a family conference it was decided Sunder Dass would return to Jamaica and take on overall administration of family businesses. Sunder Dass had advanced in the US business world in his own right and recognized he could leverage existing business contacts and further expand the family businesses beyond the islands and inter-America. Within two months he’d wound up his mainland business interests and moved his family to Jamaica where he established strict control over all the multi-faceted travel and other business interests of the family and made plans for expansion. The extended family fell in line behind his authority and control quickly and there was no more insurrection or discrepancy in their stewardship of family assets.

In the family conference determining family authority it had been decided to send June Ann for further education to England where, as a citizen she’d be free to work without any restrictions after her education was complete. It was during that family conference Charles Nelson her god parent was consulted. The family had honored their daughter Taniyah’s wish Charles be considered as June Ann’s godparent should anything happen to her. That would be something like a niece in practice. Charles was on open invitation to participate in family activities after being a support to daughter and sister but apart from occasional holidays to the islands where he and his wife Jane were treated by the family as honored guests, he made no effort to become involved in June Ann’s life. He considered the family perfectly capable of nurturing their own without his help. Now the family were asking if he’d welcome them entrusting June Ann to his care during her education in England.

Charles consulted with his wife Jane, and they quickly agreed to care for June Ann and treat her as one of their own. Charles and Jane now had three children all in their teenage years. The children were familiar with June Ann from their vacations with parents in Jamaica and looked forward to having her as part of the family while her next level of education was completed before making her way in the world by herself.

After clearing the airport, the brothers searched the welcoming crowd for Charles who’d insisted on meeting them and there with a welcome sign held high they detected a man and woman with slightly greying hair waving to them. June Ann asked about the children and Jane smiled.

“Probably up to mischief at home and I’ve told them to be on their best behavior when we get there, and you move in!” Jane gave June Ann a hug and they were soon on their way in a rental minivan.

Charles looked in the rear vision mirror and spoke to the two brothers. Raj and Sunder. “I rented this van for you to use. All you must do is drop it off at the airport when you return, and it’s been prepaid, so you just leave it and take the shuttle to your flight. I thought you might like to do a little sightseeing around the UK if you have enough time. Jane will look after all the preliminaries for June Ann at the University as she is a professor there and can guide her as I believe she wishes to pursue a master’s degree.”

Raj Dass responded. “That’s perfect. I remember how the graduate students in America used to fight to attend the lectures of Ms. Jane Howlett before she became Mrs Jane Nelson.”

Jane laughed, she’d still retained her American accent after all these years and remembered the full auditoriums when she guest lectured not knowing Raj was one of those sea of faces out there. “I’m complimented you remember me from so long-ago Raj. Your folk always made me feel welcome when we visited you over the years in Jamaica and our kids look back on those visits as a highlight of their growing years. Welcome to the UK and you can rest assured your niece will be well cared for.”

She called to June Ann seated with her uncles in the back of the van. “I’m glad to have another daughter in the home now June Ann.”

June Ann smiled and looked at her uncles to see their reaction. They were nodding happily. She was already beginning to feel at ease in this unfamiliar country.

Jane Nelson was lost in thought having been reminded of her days in America at the top of corporate power and welcomed in the most prestigious educational institutions. She remembered the business trip to London and meeting her future husband for the first time. She remembered the unpleasant departure from corporate life there in America and how she’d extricated herself from that with a bursting portfolio of wealth. How she’d suddenly realized her life was shallow and she wanted quality in her life. How she’d fled the US and wandered first to the UK while she put her future in place with the help of Charles and then spent a year in Europe looking for something satisfying to put energies into. How she and Charles kept in touch and the relationship blossomed over time. Then she remembered when the shy Charles asked in a fumbling way if she’d be his wife. She’d thought that would never happen and quickly said yes. They’d been together a long time now and had produced three children. She was deliriously happy with her marriage and work in education, having pumped millions of her wealth into poor students overseas who sought a chance to be educated. Cambridge had benefited from many bought there for education from around the world on one of her scholarships.

To be continued

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© Copyright 2021 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved

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