Sat | Aug 19, 2017

A story that needs to be told

Published:Sunday | February 5, 2017 | 2:00 AMDr Glenville Ashby
Book cover of Unearthing The Diamond
Glenville Ashby
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Authors: Tamika Felina and Prommells Williams

Streams of sorrow flow through our lives leaving shattered dreams and forlorn faces. No one is immune to the ravages of time. Tales of doom abound and we do hear many but a handful compel us to listen. Such is Unearthing The Diamond: A story of Struggle and Strife to a Successful Life. It draws a line, swearing never to claim victimhood as some twisted badge of honour.

Throughout this narrative, anger and calumny never quite settle in and there is never an attempt to reshape the world into hostile camps of good and evil.

The story of Tamika Felina and Pommells Williams, unveiled by the former, is unlike the 'look at me' authorship that is nothing more than well-veiled narcissism.

Tamika's delivery is void of eloquence, colour and flow but it was meant to be that way. A literary showcase it is not. So why is her story so impactful?

Tamika is as authentic as it gets. From her entrails she bares all, and we tag along. She is very compelling.

 

HAUNTING EXPERIENCE

 

Her storyline is unforgiving, but no more than the many horror stories we hear daily. But hers is ineffably different. Maybe it's her candour and her enormous capacity to endure emotional pain. And of her triumph and redemption we can only marvel. We journey with her every step of the way and hearken to her every word. Gospel. There are moments when we want to disembark but with a mere nudge she abruptly pulls us back.

Her gang rape by fellow high school students, including her boyfriend Phillip, is brutal and terrifying. We share her alarm, disgust, anger, and anguish; in the face of this unrestrained evil we question God's existence.

Reliving this haunting experience, Tamika writes, "I stopped counting when the 13th one entered me. With each one, I just kept wishing I was dead. When they were all done, Phillip tossed my underwear at me. With them snickering and muttering to themselves they left me alone. Somehow they were careful not to hit me in my face ... I was now dirty and bloody, not just from my clothes but I was dirty and could not get clean."

 

ARID TIMES

 

But no one believes her and she is expelled, as the integrity of the school must be preserved. Her aunt also rejects her. On her own she meets Ian, a man to whom she is indebted to this day.

They both sustain each other in the most arid of times. "Then out of sheer desperation, we decided to go up in the hills of May Mountains and start a farm ... We would walk each morning for at least four miles to get to our farm up on the mountains," Tamika recalls.

She later describes a time when exhaustion drained her last ounce of will.

"About three quarters of a mile from home I couldn't carry my load any further. I just ... sat then down and started crying telling Ian this life was too hard. I had reached my breaking point."

And when Tamika approaches motherhood there are times of levity - tender and reassuring. "That night as we lay in bed, Ian was stroking my belly as the baby kicked. That night he said, 'If you are a boy kick once, if you are a girl kick twice.' I laughed and asked why the girl got the hardest task but before I could finish the question, sure enough the baby kicked once again and settled down. Ian was now convinced we were having a boy." And they did.

 

RATTLING EXPERIENCE

 

But good times never seem to hang around. Ayale is prematurely born and sickly - a prelude to a rattling experience that would test the faith of any parent.

Their baby boy is cancer stricken, given little hope of survival. But Tamika and Ian summon their faith ... and with an infinite outpouring of love for Ayale, the incredulous occurs - a miracle.

Their baby makes a recovery although it is discovered that he is hearing-impaired; but he beats the odds and eventually excels at art design. And throughout there are instructive lessons. We learn that a name does bear energy. Yes, a seemingly inconsequential name can be weighty, significant. Ayale means life; and life he is granted.

But they are still touched by distress, hardship continually mounts, and days of hunger begin to take its toll. Ian becomes irritable, even verbally abusive at times. At that point Ian delivers the most poignantly significant statement. "I am not God," he tells Tamika, advising her to find salvation in the Creator. He gives her a Bible. It is a revolutionary moment that reshapes Tamika's life. She writes, "I believed in God but I didn't have the kind of faith Ian had. I told him I didn't know where to start ... and he told me to start at the beginning - Genesis 1. That began my personal walk with God as I began reading a chapter a day."

They move from Portland to Montego Bay to ease the burden, in search of plenitude. Their lot gradually improves as Tamika's knitting skills start to pay dividends.

Volunteering at a school leads to a pre-trained teaching post and eventually to a fully credentialed position that she has proudly held for more than two decades. And in exercising a keen sense for business there is ease.

Their construction of a wondrous home in the mountains overlooking Montego Bay lends a Cinderella-like ending to a story that must be told.

Unearthing the Diamond is a riveting, existential commentary that captures the vicissitudes of life. We just cannot capitulate when Providence turns against us. We just cannot capitulate when poor choices leave us harangued and literally left for dead. And as Ian once told Tamika, "You can't just run away when the battle is heating up."

We are called upon to be patient and faithful; industrious and hopeful; accepting and forgiving. And for sure a heavenly meed awaits us.

Feedback: glenvilleashby@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter@glenvilleashby

Unearthing the Diamond by Tamika Felina and Pommellls Williams 2016

Publisher: Baobad Tree Books

ISBN: 978-1-909389-07-6

Available at Amazon/tamikafelina@gmail.com

Ratings: Highly recommended