A fictional take on the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence
Eron Henry, Guest Columnist
I'm 50 years old and I must confess I've had two lovers. Actually, I have two suitors, each contending for my affections, my charms. Others have tried, but compared to Panup and Jalup, they're small fries. Nothing much to offer. They talk big, but when you check them out, they're all talk. I want action, not a bag o' mouth.
Not that Panup and Jalup have done great. Both of them promise much, but each time I give one a chance, they disappoint. They talk how they can make me feel good, make me look good, make me rich, take good care of me. But too often they leave me hanging - high and dry - frustrated, angry, unfulfilled, dissatisfied.
They tell me how I look good. I'm the best there is. Panup wrote me this poem a long time ago, back when I was young and fresh:
I admire the furrows of your hair
The clear waters of your eyes
The lashes that cloud
The petite rainbow of your smile.
I turn my eyes to the mountainous rise of your
The mysterious valley in-between
The landscape of your stomach
The deep cleavage and cosiness of your nest.
I fill my eyes with the contours of your thighs
The glaciating features of your legs
And the awesome plateaus of your feet.
So I feasted on your beauty
Your enthralling loveliness
Your enticing features
The blossoming beauty
That is you.
I have to confess, I did blush. Made me feel good. Made me feel proud. I began to think Panup must be the only one for me. But Jalup learned of the poem his rival sent, and so he sent me a poem of his own:
Woman of rare beauty
Surpassing the daintiest flower
Eyes reflecting diamonds.
My heart reach
To drink from her
Fountain of love.
My longing yawns cave-like
As catchment for her
Ocean of relentless love.
My aching cavity gets filled
With sacrifice from her heart's altar
Burning me with sweet, painful desire.
Captive to an invisible clench
Forcing out my weak, fainting,
Like raging storm my love gush
As a ship tossed
Forcing me into the deep.
I was now left confused. Who can resist a poem, much less two? So I continue to keep them both, one now, one at another time, juggling both.
Despite their professions of love, I sometimes feel like I've been raped. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I give in to them willingly. But after they're done with me, I have no use to myself, and I'm still unsatisfied. Still can't get no satisfaction.
What puzzles me is how the two of them fight over me. Nuff times knife draw. Other times nuff gun fire. Is a surprise they don't kill off each other a'ready. This causes me no end of heartache, no ending of grief.
Sometimes I wish someone better than these two would come along, but I still wait in vain.
I bring a lot to the table. I have more than looks. I have talent. I'm resourceful. And truthfully, much of what my suitors enjoy belongs to me. They act like it's theirs, but it's mine. All of it. But they take what I have and use it as they like, as if they have a right to do so without asking. And if I complain, they act as if I'm ungrateful.
Proud of my children
But I'm proud of my children. My sons and my daughters. I'm not telling you how many I have. That's my secret. Can't tell you who is whose either. That's my business. Some of the children make me feel ashamed sometimes with their idleness and their violence and their drugs, but most times they make me feel proud.
Is nuff doctor, and lawyer, and teacher and other professional and businessman and businesswoman I produce. And di pickney dem good in sports. Especially when it comes to the running! Faster than my children you cannot find. More skilful cricketers you will never see. Better netballers you will never behold. Proud, proud a dem bad.
I'm getting older, and I wished I had more to show for my 50 years. I'm disappointed with many of the choices that have been made, decisions that were taken, and roads that have been travelled. But I believe that I have a future. I still have some fight in me yet.
The problem is my suitors will not go away. They still hang around, still make the same old promises. Truth be told, I'm getting tired o' them. But no better is there. What to do?
Eron Henry is author of the novel, 'Reverend Mother'. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.