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"I could see as well as any person"

A clip from an oral history interview with Mr Roy Grant, a participant in the Back-a-Yard project.

Mr Grant was born in St Catherine, Jamaica in 1942. A childhood accident left him blind in one eye at age two. He recalls some of the challenges he faced growing up partially sighted in Jamaica.


Believe it or not, even though I only had one eye it was no difference to me than the person with two eyes. I did everything just the same. There was no – I never, ever have the opportunity to see through two eyes as far as I can remember. Before I was two yes, but I can’t remember that. As far as I can remember, I never seen through two eyes so seeing through the one eye it was just as good as anybody’s and nothing was any problem.

Furthermore, I had my brother you see and he was my kingpin. And my peers they look at me and, oh my god, when you think back to it you have to laugh. I may give you a joke I remember. I was coming home from school – I was about seven years of age – and I was coming home from school and this man met me on the road going home to school. And he called me over and he said: ‘Come here son, you are Mrs Grant’s son, aren’t you?

I said: ‘Yes, sir’.

And he said: ‘Oh dear god, oh you lost your eye, oh’.

And the man hold my head and he start preaching. Calling down all the gods from all the skies and saying: ‘Heal this boy’.
Oh Jesus. And all the other kids – can you imagine - hanging around looking at me and saying [gesticulates their interest].

And those who didn’t take seriously the fact that I had one eye and that there is a disability here or there is an imperfection. They begin to develop the energy to mock me. So they all had something over me, it was so embarrassing. My god, it was unbelievably embarrassing. From there on the older people wouldn’t call me names but the other children. Ace-blank. One-eyed Jack. Bla, bla, bla.

And that was very cruel and I was very sensitive because as far as I was concerned, lie I said, I did not have sight in one eye only, I could see as well as any person with two eyes

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