Louise Bennett had the endearing spirit that pulls the smile out of those around her. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
There are two kinds of people that other people are always smiling around. The first group is crazy people (because we need to put them at ease and slowly back out of the room) and the other kind is - Miss Lou.
Miss Lou is the kind of person around whom you can't help smiling. I don't actually remember when I first met Miss Lou, because our introduction came through her words when I was in primary school butchering her poetry. But in 2003 I met her in live and living colour. During her last visit to the island, I, still a relatively young and hopefully intrepid reporter, was granted an interview with a cultural icon.
That meeting made it clear that there is a reason people are always smiling around Miss Lou. She pulls that smile out of you. To be frankly cliched about it, that first meeting made me realise that Miss Lou epitomises the word Boonoonoonus.
Boonoonoonus is not a word that one can take lightly, but it's a word that also inspires a smile because it's so round and it makes you think of smiling. Miss Lou is one of those people who have an aura of goodwill and being at peace with themselves and loving a life well-lived, so that she makes you happy to be around her and you can't help but smile.
Since that first meeting of minds and poetry, I have butchered many of her pieces, from 'Dutty Tuff'' to 'Colonisation in Reverse', so meeting her made me a little nervous as though she would be able to know that I had left her words bloody and bleeding on many a schoolroom floor.
Puts you at ease
Yet, she puts you so at ease, that you quickly forget yourself, and you had to remind yourself that you are talking to a woman who had lived for more than eight decades, and who had made it easy for you to sneak Creole into your articles without apology.
It was also amazing that her memory was able to stretch back to her sixth birthday, which is probably why her passing feels so surreal, because even in her 80s she seemed forever youthful, witty and ready with a laugh.
So in her wake, her usual parting shot comes as a kind of balm. Many of her performances were ended with the song, "Walk good on yuh way and good duppy walk wid you"; we can be comforted to know that the forever smiling Miss Lou is now another good duppy to walk with us.
- T. B-S.