Once upon a time Mary Mia, a simple Indian girl living in a small Caribbean island in the 1800s married a poor indentured labourer, who her parents bought.
He was tricked by the British to come and work under sordid conditions of the sugar plantations forever leaving behind his motherland.
Years passed and Mary Mia was tricked by her own family members and lost the one thing she own and loved, her home.
She was forced to build a house on the remnants of a cow pen, making a home out of walls made of cow dung. This is not a lie or an exaggeration. It was a reality that Mary Mia and her husband endured for many years.
Mary Mia had a beautiful daughter, The Flower, with skin of peach and hair of silk. Like many Indian women, generations before, her daughter too suffered, marrying at the tender age of nine.
The Flower during her innocent years was already in full blossom, living a life known only to the adult ones. No longer able to bear the abuse, The Flower begged her mother, Mary Mia, to leave and return home. Her mother conceded and was reunited with her daughter.
In the early 1900s while Mary Mia’s daughter was selling milk to the whites in her torn clothes, oblivious to the rest of the world, she accidentally met a boy, a car driver to the elites.
Unmarried, The Flower became pregnant. A seed had been implanted in her by a man whom she trusted and loved.
The Driver had a secret; he had a family of his own. He had taken advantage of the naviety and innocence of The Flower and betrayed her trust.
Already living in poverty, Mary Mia’s daughter had yet another burden. She was going to produce a bastard child whom she would name Gloria.
Years would pass and The Flower would produce seven more children, each one being without a father, without a protector, without a teacher. Each child, no different from the one before because each one was, as they were known by the village, a bastard.
Gloria grew up during the First World War. She had nothing. She walked bare-feet to school, slept on concrete floors, played with broken dolls. Shared her everything and only things with her many brothers and sisters and her mother whom she loved dearly.
At around ten, Gloria finished school, as was customary for many Indian women at her time, barely able to read and write. She, the eldest child, in her single parent family was quiet, mothering her siblings, sheltering them from the perils of the world.
More years passed and Mary Mia’s grand-daughter developed into an elegant young lady having traces of her mother’s beauty.
At nineteen, while attending a wedding in her village, a young man locked eyes with the enigma of Gloria. To him, it was love at first sight.
Two days later, he found her father and asked him for his permission to marry his daughter.
And this was how my grandfather met my grandmother.
Earlier this evening, my grandmother was enlightening me about my family history. It was quite intense, quite sad but quite awe inspiring. I am the product of indentured servants who lived in a house made of cow manure. A family of nothing who became something.
Granny said in her local dialect, “I am what they called a bastard child. I grew up without a father, with nothing. I slept on cold floors, went Christmases and birthdays without ever knowing what a present was. I ate dried bread and water for weeks BUT I was happy. It’s not where you come from, or what has happened but who you are and what you do with you life that matters.”
We are not definitions of our pasts, our mistakes, our looks or our wealth but by who we are. Our pasts are just that, our pasts. What’s done is done and cannot be undone but today and tomorrow does not have to be like yesterday.
When I listened to my granny speak, reliving her past, I was teary-eyed by all the sad things that had happened to her and the generations before but as she said very proudly, “I live for today, not yesterday.”
*Today is four years since my granny died and I still miss her immensely.
Granny, I still think about you almost everyday. I love you very much and I will never ever forget you. Thank you for giving me the ability to dream and live my biggest dreams.
R.I.P. Granny and I love you very, very much.
Jenson recommends: Never forget those who have passed on. They may be forever gone but should never be forgotten.
* This was written four years ago.