is the final column in a quartet of voices from our country. Today we hear
the voice of a mature woman who is a single mother and a professional. I
met this woman running up Lady Chancellor Hill, remarked on the yellow
Lance Armstrong “Live Strong” band she had on and we got talking.
I was in my early 20s I got a lot of attention from men. I’m bright, but
I suppose I got ahead in my career because my bosses liked the way I
looked. Back then I felt smug that I got more opportunities than women who
were brighter than me. I felt that life was at my feet and I could do and
be anything I wanted. I started studying marketing at UWI.
I fell in love. I married young. I got pregnant right away. I stopped
husband changed from a man who was fun, generous and chivalrous to this
controlling, dangerous man who slapped me around. He is a pretty boy who
likes liming but he was paying the rent and buying our food and clothes.
my son was small I tried to go back to school but he stopped me. I even
changed jobs because he thought my working hours were too long.
wanted to leave him but I had nowhere to go and on my salary I can’t pay
rent and take care of my child. I tried to go by my mother but she told me
to go back to my husband where I belong.
when I left and hid by a friend after getting knocked about badly he came
back for me and threatened to kill me.
am working in a low-paying sales job now. I am trying to save some money
but it’s not easy.
used to love being female when I was younger, but now it’s just
hardship. It’s strange the
way we women become invisible to people who don’t worry with us as we
get older. Children are a big responsibility when there is no man to help
you out financially or with the million day-to-day parenting duties from
potty training to PTAs, to visits to the doctor and teachers to sitting
down and doing homework.
see a lot of women around my age with angry lines on their face. The
married are unhappy because they never realised that they would be
carrying so many burdens, even before the age of 40. The unmarried
professionals say they are lonely, find it hard to find men who can deal
with strong, independent women, but I think they are the best off.
say we live in a matriarchy but that’s a way of disguising the face that
our men often abandon their responsibilities as fathers and sons, and
break free to concentrate on careers or indulge in middle-aged toys like
cars and women. Their youth is never cut short like ours is.
only thing that would have saved me from this cycle of dependence on an
abusive man, or given me the larger life I dreamed of when I was young, is
education. If I could command a better salary I could have more than taken
care of myself and my son.
asked me about this yellow armband. I had a cancer scare once, with a lump
on my breast. It was benign.
it taught me two things. To take care of myself and live strong.”
end this quartet of conversations on top of this winding green hill.
Passing candy-pink poui trees shake their blossoms into the wind and
ground. The landscape moves with us. We are curving into a blanched stone
wall with bougainvillea overlooking the ocean, dipping down to the
unfolding savannah, stopping at a honeyed red bush with tiny flowers,
passing a pink sky zone. A single leaf makes its journey downwards from a
tall tree above us, wavers, and descends smoothly.
our perspective, I think, wisps of dying leaves, shacks, or mountains,
ocean or earth-embedded roots, the main thing is to live strong.