Voices that live on the vine


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Category: Women Date: 10 Jun 01

The writer Virginia Woolfe once called writing opinion pieces “ a mere tossing of omlettes”.


A column is that – a tossing of omlettes – a flinging of ideas – its purpose not so much to prepare, serve and stuff ideas, facts and opinions down peoples throats but to scatter seeds of thought. Its worth judged by the debate it generates rather than anything else.


This percolating in so many heads makes me think of the mind as a microcosm of life - a mangled forest twined with vines, stretching this way and that, where everything ultimately is related to everything else – where one can occasionally be led to lush glades that if we are lucky, illuminate questions that can lead to a truth (and there are so many- one of the compensations of being in a huge mysterious world).


The veins and vines that came in the form of voices from readers mostly, and voices in my head - The vines I followed wonderingly led me from sexy men and women to the way men and women define themselves, ending with obvious questions about the human condition itself. Should we be dissecting humanity into camps of men and women when it is so obvious that to be human is to be tragic and ultimately heroic. We are born, we struggle, against irritation, against our bad angels, against disappointment, ageing, illness but we die anyway.


But the human spirit always strives to be more than that – by creating machines and plays, by laughing, through faith, or simply wanting to find out why, like the child who rips off the petals of a flower to find out how it works.


Look at the  vine flaring  with thorns because it was furious at the inequity between the sexes. Why, asked a young and spirited female voice, is it ok for a sixty or seventy year old man to go out with a 20 year old girl and obscene for a fifty year old woman to have a boyfriend half her age? Why, she asked, are most women still secretaries, and men still bosses.


Another vine, green, tough, bright, clearly male says: “you set up rich, powerful men as role models. How do you think the thousands of men in our society who work hard, support a family, pay a mortgage, drive their children to school, supervise homework, go to football games, and PTA meetings, support their wives emotionally and economically, feel when you hold up powerful men with cell phones as ideal role models?


"Why cant you acknowledge instead the real heroes are men who choose drudgery over self-indulgence so their children can get an education, who do the tiresome work of teaching their children basic manners or who make sure their elderly parents are ok?”


Once started this vine couldn’t stop, leading me to all kinds of tangled places in the relationship between men and women.


“Perhaps we spend so much time looking at the men who are never there, the ones who are violent or don’t pay alimony, the ones who know nothing about their children’s lives, the ones who use the belt instead of words to get across a point; that we forget about the ones who are.”


"Why" wonders another vine, female, not so old but its brambles bleeding crimson sap with rage, "do men and women STILL ask the question “What did she do wrong”? after a woman is hacked to death by her spouse. NOTHING a human being says in anger or does in error (except attempt to kill another) warrants bodily violence against them. Violence against women and children by men is particularly heinous and ultimately an act of cowardice because being weaker, they are unable to defend themselves physically; because if the tables were turned the woman wouldn’t kill you the man – she may shout, walk off, throw things, leave, but her response is mostly above the belt – she does not cross the border from humanity to beast to kill because she can’t get her way.”


That vine leads me to a voice so gnarled with mutilation that I took it for dead when it spoke “My husband beat me everyday for 20 years – he broke my bones and gave me black eyes, and once beat me so hard I passed out and he left me for dead. The day I ran away he committed suicide. Since then, all the women in my life, my sisters, and in-laws, my female friends and acquaintances, have isolated me, saying I killed him by leaving, that if I was a better human being he wouldn’t beat me . Trust me, women are our own worst enemies. We put one another down. We are bitchy about women who look good for their age, or who are brave enough to leave an abusive marriage, or fearless enough to see no barriers in reaching for our goals.


But women foibles and all remain humanity’s right hand, the wellspring of creativity, the torch bearers of justice, and the voice of reason. Perhaps our inferior physical strength was deliberate so we could draw on our hearts and intellect instead of brawn to live our lives.


Here are small sample of our women. Look at them and you will know what I mean when I say they epitomize loveliness and the triumph of the human spirit, an evergreen glade of womanhood amidst us.


Dr Joan Kassim
Joan Charles
Lisa O'Connor
Roberta Clarke
Nesta Patrick
Donna Yawching
Stephanie Daly
Dr Rhoda Reddock
Diana Mahabir
Kamla Persad Bissesser
Glenda Morean
Elizabeth Solomon
Wendy Fitzwilliam
Radhica Saith
Judy Raymond
Kathy Ann Waterman
Dr Maria Bartholomew
Sharon Pitt
Hulsie Bhaggan
Pat Bishop


Francesca Hawkins
Tricia Lee Kelshall
Giselle La Ronde-West


Named in no particular order for as many reasons as they are women. Yes, they are beautiful but they are so much more than that.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur