My name is Dwayne Dyce, but I wasn’t supposed to be a “Dyce.” If life was always fair, my twin brother and I would have had the family name, “Ramdeen.” That was if our father had been a part of our lives. However, he refused to be a father to us and since my pre-teens I’ve been driven to find out where we are from and why we are fatherless.
My twin and I were born in Jubilee Hospital in Kingston in the early 1980s. Since our mother was only nineteen-years-old when she brought us into this world, our grandparents took us in when we were about 3-weeks-old.
We grew up in the farming town of Murray Mountain in St. Ann, one of 14 parishes in Jamaica. We spent a lot of time in our youth helping both of them take care of their farm: planting and harvesting crops; feeding the chickens, goats, pigs, and cows; and keeping our little home tidy. My grandmother introduced us to our Catholic faith and instilled in us the value of a good education.
At this point, the search became more than personal. My understanding of my Indian side had become part of a goal to empower fatherless youth to know that it is OK to share their story openly and without shame.
My quest to learn about myself started when we were about 10-years-old. I began wondering about our background because no one in our community looked like us. It was apparent that we were mixed with Indian and Black, but we did not know where the Indian features came from.
Stories from our grandparents gave us some details that piqued my interest even more about learning about our father. We learned that our mother is of Black and Chinese descent with our maternal grandmother being Black and our maternal grandfather being Chinese and Black. However, that was not enough.
While we did have our grandfather as a man we could learn from, I still felt the emptiness caused by not knowing our biological father. Knowing a father would give me a shared identity and I knew it was an Indian identity. However, it was an identity that we knew nothing about. So, we continued to ask about him.
We were told that our father was in Kingston, but the other information was vague. We were given the family name of a man that we did not resemble and he turned out to be our sister’s father. He was obviously not of Indian descent. This only made us even more curious. So, we persisted with our questions. Our grandmother was the only one willing to talk candidly to us, but she did not know anything about our father.
At this point, the search became more than personal. My understanding of my Indian side had become part of a goal to empower fatherless youth to know that it is OK to share their story openly and without shame. To reach that goal, we had to search another seven years.
A couple of weeks before turning 20-years-old, I assume my mom got frustrated with my frustration and she finally shared my biological father’s name. She was living in Kingston and eventually took us to him. During this period, I also used my biological father’s name to trace my paternal lineage back to my grandfather, who had come to Jamaica, from India, as an indentured laborer.