The Postal Intermediary

by Merlyn Alphonso

I was attending secondary school and living in an area called Mabaruma. Folks from Peoples Temple used to visit the house where I used to live.

I remember a young Indian man wearing glasses would hand out letters into my hand when he knew I was returning to school after lunch. Then, another young lady gave me a letter of topmost importance, also using the same medium. It would seem now they never wanted each other to know they were sending these letters, because they didn’t know who would tell about the letters.

I didn’t realize the members of that group went back to Jonestown area until I heard of the tragedy. I’m now thinking those letters probably were sent to folks to say that they were returning to where they wouldn’t have access to postal services. Taking into consideration I was eleven years old, what would I have known about secrecy?

The tragedy was a gloomy time for me and the area felt the sadness. When I learned of it, I wondered what happened to the young people who would visit the home where I was living.

Everywhere, I recall hearing what happened. The planes were passing over the area all day and night and often times, I heard they were carrying the bodies of persons who died at Jonestown.

I tried to read as much as I could about the tragedy and learned that letters were received by loved ones of the people in that situation. I often wondered about the ones I posted. Because, that was the only place the folks had access to that mail service. After the years went by, I assumed the friends I used to be posting letters for were also among the hundreds that were killed in that tragedy.

Originally posted on October 1st, 2017.

Last modified on February 24th, 2018.
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