George Davis | Bloodsuckers!
As university students begin filing back into the classroom while others enjoy the last full week of their free paper, my thoughts drift to the struggling parents and guardians who form the backbone of the school system here in Jamaica.
I'm isolating those parents and caregivers who have slaved over the summer break to pay the requisite fees, in addition to getting the gear and material needed for their charge to head into the new school year on sound footing.
Of course, I'm not original in paying tribute to this resolute group, but I feel obliged to offer encouragement in recognition of the fact that their sterling effort is no insurance against their charges effectively choosing a life of poverty, mediocrity or criminality.
My feelings were stirred in this regard by the sad story about pickpockets on the streets of downtown Kingston, as told in last Wednesday's edition of the Jamaica Observer. In the story, a woman so overwhelmed by the thieving nature of her three sons, ages 16, 18 and 22, told a reporter in frustration, "It come een like mi a mad; mi talk to dem till mi sick. Mi cyaa do nothing more. Mi not even know what to do. Dem nah tek no talk from mi."
According to the woman, "Dem a thief and dem nuh need to do that, 'cause mi work hard and mi tek care of dem. Yu know from when mi house coulda done? Every minute mi haffi a pay lawyer; mi a dis, mi a dat. A tru you not even know, mi a tell you, man."
Her lament has been sounded by many a single mother and father in this country over time. They strain to give their children a chance at life, only for the child to repay them by wasting the opportunity and ending up being a menace to society. Cursed is the child who chooses worthlessness or a life of crime and ends up making a mockery of the sacrifices made by their 'mooma and poopa'.
HIS MOTHER WORKED HARD
At another point on the worthless spectrum sits a 21-year-old man I know who's basically pimping out his poor mother. For all his life, his mother, his sole provider, has been working as a domestic worker. Her hands are now unsteady, knees pained and wobbly by years of criss-crossing various communities in St Catherine scrubbing people's dirty floors and hand-washing mountains of clothes, including some tough jeans.
Over the years, she has battled multiple whitlows - that painful abscess which forms in the soft tissue near a fingernail - to haul herself to another 'day's work' where she has to hand-wash piles of laundry so she could send the boy to his top-flight Kingston high school.
This domestic worker then threw multiple hands of 'partner' and has irreparably damaged relationships with close family members and church colleagues whom she has borrowed from and cannot repay, in order to send the boy to the UWI to complete his first degree.
And then this ingrate, who boasts gadgets that many working people wouldn't buy, has declared that he will not be looking for a job now but will instead be going straight to a master's degree programme! That programme will again be funded by another round of loans and his mother's domestic servant wages! This poor woman cannot see through her unconditional love for her son and, despite having fainted on the job previously because of what her doctor says is plain overwork, will haul her broken body a little further to please her spawn.
This young man is no different from the three pickpockets from the Observer story, as he, too, is killing a mother who has given him a chance to unburden her and make the best life for himself. I share the pain of those parents who are being exploited and shamed by their unconscionable children.