Sometimes I Feel Like a Fatherless Child
Posted by Michael Eldridge on June 17, 2012
There are all kinds of fathers in the world. After playing the role for nine years myself, I know how easy it is to fall short of every possible paternal ideal. And after losing my own dad last fall (he stayed strong and healthy before cancer finally caught up with him at age 96), I also know how hard it is to get your progenitor out of your head.
Lord Caresser (Rufus Callender) wasn’t exactly a model family man: he sired children in several countries, and eventually, an increasingly disturbed soul, he walked away from his wife and sons in Montreal. It seems that he, too, was haunted by the specter of his father—in his case, a father he barely knew. Born in Venezuela, Caresser was raised, like plenty of West Indians, by strong women. His mother reportedly died when he was four years old, at which point he was shipped back to Trinidad to live with a grandmother and, later, an aunt. But his dad remained an enigma, a blank figure whose anonymity Caresser explored in an uncharacteristically autobiographical calypso from the mid-1940s:
As a meditation on Caribbean colonial identity, Caresser’s lyric is right up there with Atilla the Hun’s “No Nationality” (or even George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin). But as an expression of the sense of orphanhood we feel when our folks are gone, it’s more poignant still. “I would like to behold him with my eyes….” Me, too.