Image / painting by Annika L-M
Slim and dark, with an energetic walk and then a firm, often enthusiastic handshake: “I’m Gareth E.E. Brown,” he says, without trying to put you down with his initials. If you by chance are a lady, young or old, you’ll have the pleasure of being treated just as one, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. Of course, if you’re not of the female gender, you won’t have this special privilege – but that won’t prevent you from noticing what an unusual young gentleman he is. Always respectful and smiling, never imposing, you’ll find him very easy to get along with: articulate, intelligent, intellectual, creative, amusing yet serious, sensitive – not hesitating to apologize, pay you a compliment, argue a point or voice his opinion; honest and always true to his beliefs. You’ll quickly discover that his main interests involve music, and music of quality: listening to and analyzing with a sharp ear, creating and writing – and playing the piano, guitar and the drums. You’ll even find that he himself learnt to write music long before he started playing! In addition, there’s languages, cars, mechanics and electronics. He enjoys the peaceful beauty of nature, and can keep you entertained on almost any topic under the sun!
He will leave a lasting impression with you – and yet you have barely scratched the surface. There’s a lot more to him, which most of you will never know. Though he communicates well and even in crowds, he’s very private. That he, “the fast-talking idiot” [his words], actually is a quiet person, will perhaps surprise us. “At school, didn’t I tease and annoy everybody and spoke out and so on? Yes, but (no buts) however… I really was quiet but the environment made me act so as not to appear abnormal. My culture is drastically different from all other people in my class and even from my immediate brother and sister. … I do believe that humans are social beings, and following that strictly, I might be omitted. … I also think I am a bit selfish, which I am desperately working to overcome since it is bad.” Strangely, with his aptitude for knowledge, capable of excelling in almost anything he lays his hands on, he says, “I can easily pass any exam but don’t mostly because I don’t care.”
And now, one whole year [it's 1989] has passed since he was so cruelly taken away from us – on the eve of his 22nd birthday. But he hasn’t left us. With us are our memories of his integrity, his smiles and words, his music… all making a difference in our lives. And so they will remain.
Is there a possibility of ever meeting another Gareth E.E. Brown? A born Jamaican with all his potentials, he was as different as a person could be. He was so unique, I seriously doubt there’s anyone like him in Jamaica, or anywhere else. In truth and in fact, he was somewhat of an enigma – perhaps even to himself.
It has been a great loss. He had so much to give, so much to do. Yet life must go on; and both those of us who had the honour, pleasure and opportunity of knowing him, and those who didn’t (and now do, by virtue of this tribute), must work together for a better life in our country, for our children to come. His, is only one of so many senselessly wasted lives.
Rest in Peace, Gareth. We will always cherish your Memory.
Written by Annika L-M (1989)