So, the story began yesterday with Little Anita telling us about her achievements, how she got there and her worries about the future. In today’s episode, we get to hear another perspective. Meet Anita’s Mommy. And, brace yourself – the ride gets bumpier as the journey continues.
Bastard Pickney: The Jamaican Journal
The Story Continues
Aah bwoy! Dem seh woman have heavy load an mek ah tell yuh, whosoever did seh dat, never know the half…My name is Ivette Maureen Black but most people just call mi Puncie, and I am Anita Parker mother.
Today mek the third day in a row mi have to wake Anita out of har bed an send har fi goh look fi har dutty, wutliss pupa. But, ah don’t have nuh other choice…
Anita is a brilliant child; brighter dan har big sister, Tabitha. Shi tek har Common Entrance exam an pass wid flying colours for a topanaris school name Olson High. Ah was so proud of mi pickney, mi a tell ounu, an although mi did know seh it was going to be difficult fi send har to that school, a mek up ma mind that ah was going to move heaven an earth to mek sure that shi goh. But, yuh si afta mi get Anita school package an open it an read the document dem, mi seh mi jus feel like one big, helluva duppy siddung braps pon top a mi chest! The tuition fee alone woulda send mi goh Bellevue to blertnaught! Twelve thousand dollars! An dat don’t include books, caution fee, insurance or any of the other auxillary fee dem that di school was demanding. An mi couldn’t forget bout Tabby; she had to goh back to school too an although she goh to St. Andrew Technical an fi dem fees not as exorbitant as Olson own dem, shi still need fi get supplies.
Yuh si when ah went to shop for the book dem, a da time deh mi start feel like smaddy dash mi inna one pressure cooker. Headache woulda kill mi! All a di book dem come to nearly twenty thousand dollars! Raasclaat bwoy! Mi start wonder how mi going to manage. Yu si, di ting is dat mi neva finish school soh ah don’t have any big job; is office attendant work mi duh. My salary is a grand total of $1,500.00 a week soh dat mean seh even if mi decide seh mi naah buy nuh food an pay nuh bills an jus save up everyting dat mi work from July straight back to September, ah still wouldn’t have enough fi buy all a Nita school tings not to mention Tabby own dem. Ah didn’t know what to duh! Mi goh down pon mi knees an pray to Faada God fi give mi di answer.
Is from Nita likkle ah been telling har that education is the way to a better life, enuh. If shi waan turn doctor, lawyer, secretary, banker – anything har heart desire – shi can be it if shi focus pon har lesson. An, believe you me, shi work hard; nuff night shi drap asleep over di school book dem. Nuff night, shi nuh go har bed till all two, tree o’clock cause shi seh, “Mummy, mi have test an’ mi waan get one hundred!” An God help har an shi achieve har first big goal – fi goh to har dream school. I couldn’t let har down now. Ah had to come through for her! Then, mi get a idea…
“Curtain! Sheet set! Table claat! Hello? Anybody inside?”
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“Good day, nice lady! How yuh duh? Ah can sell yuh something nice for yuh house? Mi have some pretty spread an bedside mat that would look really nice inna yuh room, enuh. Yuh can patronize mi?”
Yes, man. Mi decide fi duh likkle hustlin. Mi teck tree weeks pay an goh Dungtown goh buy up some tings, man. Mi buy shower curtain an sheet an plate towel an tableclaat an mat set. If anybody did ever tell mi seh five gran coulda buy soh much tings, mi woulda tell dem seh a lie. But, di wholesale dem sell cheap-cheap an ah was able to get nuff bargain. Den mi pack up everyting inna one big travelling bag an hit di road. Ah tell yuh, I was like a woman possessed. From di laas week a July straight back to yesterday, I walk out di whola Mona Estate, Hope Pastures an Barbican pon Saturday an Sunday when mi deh home from work. Mi leave di house from eight o’clock inna di mawnin an don’t stop til sun goh down. Mi walk from door-to-door, from gate-to-gate an bawl out wha mi a sell loud-loud.
An ask mi if it never hard. Di sun blazing hat an chu a walk mi a walk mi foot dem bun mi! When mi reach back home a night time, mi haffi soak mi foot dem inna warm water. Some time dawg bark afta mi – one all run mi dung one day. One big-ass-tearin Doberman dawg jump over im gate an run mi dung! Mi seh, mi affi drap mi bag an ask: “Foot? Whey yuh deh?” Is a gardener from one next yawd save mi! Dat was a day! From dat mi meck sure stay far from di gate dem when mi a call.
Sometime di helper dem show off demself an run mi to an sometime some a di people dem ignore mi when dem si mi a come, yu know, act like seh mi invisible. It not easy at all at all. But, I was determine an mi stick wid it. An mi mek a decent money. By the second to laas week inna August, mi hustle enough to buy fabric to mek the girls dem uniform; new shoes for Anita but none for Tabitha cause her own can goh for one more term; mi buy tree quarter a di book dem pon Tabitha book list but ah could only manage to buy five outta the fifteen dat Anita must get cause dem very, very expensive an mi use the balance to pay a deposit on the two a dem school fee. But dat mean seh mi need whole heap more money. No way mi did waan send Nita goh a dat boasy school mongst dem topanaris pickney deh without all a har book dem. Dat mean seh shi woulda have to share or borrow an Nita too proud; knowing her, shi woulda embarrass fi duh dat. Plus, it wouldn’t be fair. She’s a good child an shi work hard soh shi deserve di best. Shi neva have to borrow when shi was going to Hope Town Primary soh mi mek up mi mind dat as long as breath lef inna mi body, it neva did agoh happen now.
Soh mi decide fi try get di rest a book dem second-han but dat was a waste a time. Mi get to find out seh the Ministry phase out di book dem nearly every year; every year di publisher dem print new edition. Soh what mi find happenin was if Nita book list seh Sixth Edition, a di Fifth or Fourth edition Audrey or Dimple chile did use. An mi neva waan Nita fi goh a har new school wid out-dated book fi teacher teck liberty wid har.
But, ounu know how dem seh “trouble neva set like rain”? Mi deh ya a kill out miself a try hustle up money fi teck care a everyting an more stress goh come dung pon mi…
Wednesday gone when ah was at work, mi get a phone call from a man who tell mi that he is the Bursar up at Olson High. Him tell mi that him realize “that a portion of Anita Parker’s tuition fee is outstanding” and that if it don’t pay “she will be barred from starting school on Monday”. Mi seh when mi hang up the phone, a feel like di whole worl siddung pon mi shoulders! I am twenty seven and a di first inna mi life mi ever feel soh; a piece a fatigue come ova mi yuh si, an mi just feel like fi give up an goh walk road. Mi understand now why soh much people mad!
Mi seh mi just run goh lock up inna di bathroom an bawl like baby! Mi neva know what else fi duh an my mother always tell mi seh when mi feel downtrodden, a good long cry is the best cure. So that is what ah did. After that ah felt likkle better. Ah wash mi face an sit down pon di toilet bowl an try fi brainstorm what mi next move could be.
Mi tink bout fi ask mi boss for a salary advance but then mi change mi mind cause ah didn’t want the extra stress fi pay it back. Plus, mi nuh like owe people; it always mek mi feel like dem agoh have something fi hol ova mi. Soh, mi cross off dat offa di list. Then, mi tink bout borrowing one two or tree grand from each one a mi sista dem but mi flush dat deh idea deh to. Cindy, Pauline, Dianne an Janet dem inna di same boat wha me inna. Between di four a dem, dem have tree son an four dawta to sen back to school. An all a dem earn minimum wage an n’ave nuh man – jus like me!
Soh although mi nuh like beg, mi put aside pride cause desperate times call for desperate measures an mi decide to call Anita godmother, Barbara, who is a nurse. Shi tell mi that shi would love to help out but wouldn’t be able to give mi the funds til month end cause shi deh dung a Mo Bay a work an not coming up til then. Mi sure a Barbara – shi neva let mi down yet but di man did done tell mi seh if di six thousand dollar nuh pay by Monday, dem naah let in Nita. Soh mi couldn’t wait! Mi did need di money today-today!