Carrie and Ustas show off the Zion table full of goodies that are supposed to keep the duppy at bay. - photos by Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
This is number 1 in the countdown of the top 5 edition of Roving with Lalah over the past year
The duppy woman ran straight at me with her hands in the air! I thought to myself, all right, this is it, the duppy inside her is about to jump into me and I'll have to spend the rest of my life being called the duppy man. But just as I braced myself for the impact, someone whispered in my ear, "She come to shake your hand." A tad red in the face, I managed a smile, but must admit that I was still a bit nervous as I shook her hand. I mean, it's not every day I meet a duppy woman. A few witches, maybe, but never a real life duppy woman.
But let me tell you how I got to be in the company of a self-proclaimed duppy woman in the first place. Carrie is a middle-aged woman from Kellits in Clarendon who now lives in New Hall, St. Ann. Her claim to fame is that she has been set upon by one brute of a duppy called Wenticko, every year, during crop time, for more than 18 years.
The story is that she caught a man in Kellits fiddling around with a pig in a most peculiar way. She supposedly raised an alarm and the pig-lover set a hex on her. According to the people of Kellits, some of whom I met a few weeks back, the duppy has done all kinds of things with Carrie. He supposedly has folded her up and put her in a drawer, rolled her up a hill and even put her at the top of a hundred foot tree. But was all this true? Only one way to find out, so photographer Ian Allen and I went in pursuit of the duppy woman at her new home in New Hall, St. Ann.
Now, if you don't know your way around, New Hall is not an easy place to find. But we quickly realised that Carrie was quite popular and this was going to make our job a lot easier.
"You know Carrie?" I hollered to an elderly man smoking a pipe on his verandah. "Carrie? You mean di one weh Wenticko did a follow?" he shouted back.
And so it went on, we drove around asking for Carrie, the woman 'followed' by Wenticko, and eventually arrived right at her home. It was an old house with a rusting zinc roof. A little spooky, but not as bad as I expected.
Sharon, a neighbour, poked her head through a window of her home. "Can I help you?" she inquired.
"We're here to see Carrie," said I.
"Oh, yes she inside. Carrie!Carrie! Somebody here to see you!" she shouted.
Little pleasant looking woman
This was it. There was no turning back now. I expected to see a strapping woman, perhaps wearing a triangular hat and some pointed shoes, but to my surprise, a little pleasant looking woman came strolling merrily down the hill. She ran right up to me and extended her arm. When I realised what she was doing, I shook her hand.
"How are you please?" she asked with a smile. "Er...ah...fine," I said, caught off guard by how normal she seemed.
So were all the stories true? We got right into the matter. "Oh yes man. Me is di duppy woman. Mi nuh business what people want to say. Dem say mi shouldn't call myself so, but I don't mind. Is who mi is," she said with a smile.
'So do you remember the first time that Wenticko possessed you?" I asked.
"Yes man. Is not me even catch di man with the pig. Is somebody else, a little boy name Junie. So di man really set the science pan Junie," she said.
"So how did it reach you?" I queried.
"Well Junie did have a goat tie up inna di field. Him did suppose to go for it, but him did sick. So him ask mi fi go for di goat for him. Is when mi go fi di goat dat the blow reach me," she said, rubbing her temple. "What you mean the blow reach you?"
"I mean dat is when the science dat suppose to reach Junie, reach me instead. Mi just knock out and next thing mi know mi inna di air, like how dem carry coffin," Carrie remembered.
The soft-spoken woman said she has got so accustomed to Wenticko over the years, that she is no longer afraid. "Is crop time now, and dat mean him might come again, but mi nuh fraid. Mi not even know when it happen. Is like him take over mi body, so mi not even conscious. Mi nuh fret bout it bredda," she said.
As a rooster made some puzzling sounds in the background, I asked Carrie what were some of the things that Wenticko has done to her. "Him put gravel inna mi food, put mi up inna tree top and burn up mi foot,". She showed us the scars on her legs.
Carrie said neighbours have taken her all over, trying to rid her of the curse. "Mi go church and the pastor run mi. Him say is me doing it. Mi go madda woman and she bathe mi inna all kinda something. But nothing nuh work,".
Carrie moved to New Hall about a year ago. "Do the people here bother you?" I asked. "No man, dem take care of me. Dem nuh badda mi at all,". Sure enough, we spoke with several neighbours who said they had no problem with Carrie living there. "If di duppy deh pan her den him nah go trouble anybody else," said Miss Gatty who lives across the road.
Indeed, Carrie is happy in New Hall. You see, the sporadically possessed belle moved there to be with the man she loves, one Ustas Kelly. Yes, theirs is a pure love. Ustas told us that duppy or no duppy, Carrie is his woman.
Fresh from his field, with machette in hand, Ustas explained why he wasn't scared of being with a woman who calls herself 'the duppy woman'. "Is somebody pickney same way. Is one man mi fear and is God. Mi nuh fraid a dem evil things. Wenticko can't chat to mi, for me and him ah nuh quabs!" he shouted. Ustas said he boiled some bushes and gave to his woman earlier this year, and so Wenticko has so far stayed away. He pointed to a table in the front yard, on which several bottles and some weeds were placed.
"That is not a obeah table, it's a Zion table. It will keep weh di bugga!" Ustas professed.
So that was that. Our visit with the duppy woman had come to an end. Back to Kingston. Alone, I hope!
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