In the middle
I was at lunch last week when I got a call on my phone. Sitting there with my friend eating jerked chicken and rice and peas, me in an unforgiving mood, trying to not be subsumed by the craziness of my job. So my phone rang, I answered and a young lady who I mentor, guide and teach said we need you now there is this international student who is in trouble and we are waiting you. And as she said that my spirit rose up out of myself and I became bigger than even I could have imagined because I felt through her voice that this job required for me to be someone else.
I walked into my office and there was this young woman, in tears, in pain, she spoke in accented tones and panicked consistency, slow sometimes, soft sometimes, her words spilling out sometimes, halting sometimes, at times tripping over her toungue, as the reality of her situation dawned on her. She who had left her stable home behind, first world luxuries, and loving mother and had succumbed to the stereotype of the 'island man' the man with the 'big bamboo' the rebellious ganja smoking, reggae singing, Bob Marleyesque man who recites profound philosophies in island tones. She learnt that first world dreams and third world realities often collide and are manifested on the bodies of innocent naive women, whose futures are invariably changed by the brutality of violence.
So as I listened and tried not to shake her in frustrated amazement, at her pronouncement of 'only'a broken finger, and 'hits that were not that bad' and as she ran the idea that it was only because I attacked him first, I realized how common the human experience was because I had heard all these stories before, from young women from Guyana, Trinidad, all across Jamaica,
I looked at this confused and hurt young woman wracked by pain and overcome with disappointment in herself I realized that she was me then, lost, overcome, unsure lacking confidence, filled with fear for her future and her ability, that perhaps if I could say the right thing perhaps I could help her to heal, to feel safe, to know that there is a better day ahead. I wondered about how we raise our daughters to think that hurt is somehow synonymous with love, and he who loves you must treat you with disdain and forever take control of your life because somehow love and pain are intertwined.
I thought about it and the answer I think is in dismantling dangerous dogma, like the church and religious tea hangs which make men into heroes and women into the other, as if being woman is a challenge to the mainstream as if humanity was at creation perfect and we somehow made it imperfect so we are destined to live life's of atonement. We have to rescue our girls, by unravelling the lies of fairy tales and romance novels and reeducate them to know that love does not hurt. We have to let them know that when they find love they will not cower and they will be even more phenomenal, that they will find a friend a companion who sees her as an equal. We need to teach our girls, daughters new things.