Categorized | Letters, Local

A conversation with Montserrat – (Part 1)

Shirley Osborne

Shirley Osborne

Shirley is back – Who remembers ‘Let’s Talk’? 
So, Dear Montserrat,
Election Days are here again, are they? It’s been nearly five years since the last burst of amazement, stupefaction and wonder, and from what I hear, these 2014 Elections Days look set to top any we have ever had in that regard, my gentle, little island. It looks like, once again, there will be mud-slinging and scandal, lies and fabrications, false promises and lying assurances; there will be dirty laundry and bloody sheets, evil eyes and poisoned darts; ill-will and bad feeling.
Par for the course, I’m told.
I wonder how you feel, Montserrat? Are you excited? Bored? Resigned? Worried? Are you not wishing you could have better? I know, I am.
As the days go by and the date draws nearer, everybody will get involved, even those who cannot or will not vote, those who live with you and those who don’t. And, let me just say right here, for those of us who will object, who are already objecting, to the involvement of those of us who will not or cannot vote and of those who do not live with you, dearest Monti, I have two words for them, the most polite form of which is, “Shut up!!”
That old, “Awe a de one dem who stap ya aftoo de volcano and buil’ back de place,” is tired, juvenile and false. But, if you really want to go there, we can talk about whether the place has, in fact, been built back, and whether, whatever has been done, you did all by yourself.
That other dull, old saw, “Who no live ya, no gat no say!!“, I shall not even address.
However, just in the interests of peace and intelligent discussion, let me, before I go any further, just clarify for those whom it will concern: my name is Shirley Osborne, I was delivered by my grandmother in my grandfather’s house in Salem, to John and Eleanor Osborne, and I grew up in Cheap End, St. Peter’s and on Hope Road, Salem. I have shed blood, sweat and tears on, for and because of Montserrat, and I have enjoyed love, friendship, and support from Montserrat. I have also felt pride in Montserrat, on occasion, and I hope these coming Election Days will provide another such.
I not only can, but I SHALL say whatever I am moved to, and anyone who has a problem with that, you know where to find me.
I speak, because, I am one of those Montserratians who still hopes that your people, O! Gentle Island, will find it in ourselves to be kind to one another, whether we are political opponents, or not. I vividly remember a time when even relatives stopped being friendly to me because they disagreed with my father’s politics. It was a sad and distressing time, which I hope shall never be repeated.
I fervently wish, Mother M, that your children will choose to look after one another, and keep each other safe, whomsoever we support, and whoever gets voted into office. Once, at a political meeting in Salem Centre, a supporter of the opposing party threatened to send my brother to the hospital or to the morgue. And the leader stood by, silent. Those were dangerous and worrying times, never to be repeated, I fervently hope.
My heart is heavy at the thought of your imminent elections, Beautiful One. I am afraid for you. I look at you, and I see scars and fresh wounds on your lands and on the faces of your people, the originals and the new ones. I see wounds that won’t heal even to become scars. I worry that there will come new wounds to make you bleed anew.
I want to tell you some of the things that worry me, M, and some of the things that I find reassuring. They are many, and sometimes they are one and the same, so it will take a little while. Today, I will speak to you of only one or two. We shall speak some more, later.
Here’s one of the things that worries me most – the women in Montserrat; your daughters, M. – the original ones and the ones that came later – you know, the ones from Jamaica and Guyana and wherever else.
The women in Montserrat are not treating one another like sisters. I hear the things they say about one another, especially about the ones that speak Spanish. This is partly because of the appalling behaviour of your sons, which we shall talk about later, but it is not acceptable, no how! There is very little that is nice or sisterly there, Mother M. Very little.
There are no women in the government of you, and there haven’t been for quite a while. This worries me because half of your children are female, but I do understand how it is possible that no women want to run for office. I think most of the women are afraid. They are afraid because they are used to being beaten and mistreated by men – murdered, even – in their own homes, and they get no protection from the men with the authority and the duty to protect them. Physical safety is a priority with my sisters.
Your daughters don’t want to run for political office because they would rather not open themselves to any additional abuse from your sons. As it is, they are already disrespected, violated and abused, far too much, by the men who say they love them, by your sons who are supposed to love them – the fathers, boyfriends, husbands, priests, police officers, bosses, upstanding men in the community and random strangers. That kind of thing wears a woman down and makes her reluctant, even unable, to stand up in public, sometimes.
The women who would run for political office don’t only fear abuse from men – from your sons, M. Your daughters are also uncertain that they wouldn’t have to protect themselves from their sisters – the sisters who turn a blind eye to the domestic abuse that they know is ongoing; the sisters who are hostile to your new daughters, for the simple reason that they exist; the sisters who justify and rationalize when your sons attempt to make punching bags and good-time girls of your new daughters. It is hard for your daughters to trust that they can lean on the sisters who sing and do a nice dance in church, as often as the church doors are open, but who show no sympathy, give no help, offer no support when they are in their offices or on your streets.
What do you think, M? Do you think you will ever get better if so many of your sons are more interested in taking care of themselves than of you, and if so many of your daughters are afraid to?

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Shirley Osborne

Shirley Osborne

Shirley is back – Who remembers ‘Let’s Talk’? 
So, Dear Montserrat,
Election Days are here again, are they? It’s been nearly five years since the last burst of amazement, stupefaction and wonder, and from what I hear, these 2014 Elections Days look set to top any we have ever had in that regard, my gentle, little island. It looks like, once again, there will be mud-slinging and scandal, lies and fabrications, false promises and lying assurances; there will be dirty laundry and bloody sheets, evil eyes and poisoned darts; ill-will and bad feeling.
Par for the course, I’m told.
I wonder how you feel, Montserrat? Are you excited? Bored? Resigned? Worried? Are you not wishing you could have better? I know, I am.
As the days go by and the date draws nearer, everybody will get involved, even those who cannot or will not vote, those who live with you and those who don’t. And, let me just say right here, for those of us who will object, who are already objecting, to the involvement of those of us who will not or cannot vote and of those who do not live with you, dearest Monti, I have two words for them, the most polite form of which is, “Shut up!!”
That old, “Awe a de one dem who stap ya aftoo de volcano and buil’ back de place,” is tired, juvenile and false. But, if you really want to go there, we can talk about whether the place has, in fact, been built back, and whether, whatever has been done, you did all by yourself.
That other dull, old saw, “Who no live ya, no gat no say!!“, I shall not even address.
However, just in the interests of peace and intelligent discussion, let me, before I go any further, just clarify for those whom it will concern: my name is Shirley Osborne, I was delivered by my grandmother in my grandfather’s house in Salem, to John and Eleanor Osborne, and I grew up in Cheap End, St. Peter’s and on Hope Road, Salem. I have shed blood, sweat and tears on, for and because of Montserrat, and I have enjoyed love, friendship, and support from Montserrat. I have also felt pride in Montserrat, on occasion, and I hope these coming Election Days will provide another such.
I not only can, but I SHALL say whatever I am moved to, and anyone who has a problem with that, you know where to find me.
I speak, because, I am one of those Montserratians who still hopes that your people, O! Gentle Island, will find it in ourselves to be kind to one another, whether we are political opponents, or not. I vividly remember a time when even relatives stopped being friendly to me because they disagreed with my father’s politics. It was a sad and distressing time, which I hope shall never be repeated.
I fervently wish, Mother M, that your children will choose to look after one another, and keep each other safe, whomsoever we support, and whoever gets voted into office. Once, at a political meeting in Salem Centre, a supporter of the opposing party threatened to send my brother to the hospital or to the morgue. And the leader stood by, silent. Those were dangerous and worrying times, never to be repeated, I fervently hope.
My heart is heavy at the thought of your imminent elections, Beautiful One. I am afraid for you. I look at you, and I see scars and fresh wounds on your lands and on the faces of your people, the originals and the new ones. I see wounds that won’t heal even to become scars. I worry that there will come new wounds to make you bleed anew.
I want to tell you some of the things that worry me, M, and some of the things that I find reassuring. They are many, and sometimes they are one and the same, so it will take a little while. Today, I will speak to you of only one or two. We shall speak some more, later.
Here’s one of the things that worries me most – the women in Montserrat; your daughters, M. – the original ones and the ones that came later – you know, the ones from Jamaica and Guyana and wherever else.
The women in Montserrat are not treating one another like sisters. I hear the things they say about one another, especially about the ones that speak Spanish. This is partly because of the appalling behaviour of your sons, which we shall talk about later, but it is not acceptable, no how! There is very little that is nice or sisterly there, Mother M. Very little.
There are no women in the government of you, and there haven’t been for quite a while. This worries me because half of your children are female, but I do understand how it is possible that no women want to run for office. I think most of the women are afraid. They are afraid because they are used to being beaten and mistreated by men – murdered, even – in their own homes, and they get no protection from the men with the authority and the duty to protect them. Physical safety is a priority with my sisters.
Your daughters don’t want to run for political office because they would rather not open themselves to any additional abuse from your sons. As it is, they are already disrespected, violated and abused, far too much, by the men who say they love them, by your sons who are supposed to love them – the fathers, boyfriends, husbands, priests, police officers, bosses, upstanding men in the community and random strangers. That kind of thing wears a woman down and makes her reluctant, even unable, to stand up in public, sometimes.
The women who would run for political office don’t only fear abuse from men – from your sons, M. Your daughters are also uncertain that they wouldn’t have to protect themselves from their sisters – the sisters who turn a blind eye to the domestic abuse that they know is ongoing; the sisters who are hostile to your new daughters, for the simple reason that they exist; the sisters who justify and rationalize when your sons attempt to make punching bags and good-time girls of your new daughters. It is hard for your daughters to trust that they can lean on the sisters who sing and do a nice dance in church, as often as the church doors are open, but who show no sympathy, give no help, offer no support when they are in their offices or on your streets.
What do you think, M? Do you think you will ever get better if so many of your sons are more interested in taking care of themselves than of you, and if so many of your daughters are afraid to?