-mother’s anxiety grows
Four-month-old Anjalie may have to have her right arm amputated.
The child was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital last Tuesday by her 19-year-old mother, Zabeeda Mohamed. She had left her two-year-old to watch the baby that evening and returned from a shop errand just in time to grab Anjalie from a mattress partially engulfed in flames.
Anjalie sustained burns to the right half of her body. Mohamed and her child spent Christmas in the hospital’s Burn Care Unit. Just when the woman thought her child was over the worst Anjalie’s doctor dropped “a bombshell” on her, she said.
“De doctor tell me that if meh daughter hand don’t start heal then she might have to lose it,” Mohamed told Stabroek News yesterday.
In ten days, according to Mohamed, if her baby’s right arm doesn’t get better then there is a possibility that it will be amputated.
“I just seh I don’t want she lose de one hand…some time when she get more big she might say I am de cause and might be angry with me,” Mohamed worried.
Today marks six days since Mohamed’s child has been in the hospital recovering from burns. The woman is constantly worried and news of the possible amputation has only added to her distress. Praying, Mohamed said, is the only thing she can do at this point.
Spending Christmas at the hospital with her child, Mohamed said, was not so bad. Medical staff has been providing her with everything they could and good care is being given to her baby. However, the woman pointed out that you can never truly be happy when distress hangs over your head.
“De nurse dem and everybody here been good to we and dem keeping meh company but you can’t really keep company when you got distress,” Mohamed said.
When Mohamed left her two children home alone that Tuesday she never expected the tragedy she returned to. A kerosene lamp which was left lit in the home was reportedly knocked over by a wind-blown curtain. The lamp immediately caused flames to engulf the mattress on which Anjalie lay.
“I lef’ to go to de shop and by the time I come back I see de mattress on fire and I barely scramble me baby off it,” the 19-year-old mother of two had said.
Mohamed, of Lot 18 De Willem, West Coast Demerara, is alone with her children most days. Her reputed husband, she said, spends most of his time in the interior working.
Every two weeks, Mohamed said, her reputed husband, Ramesh, returns home for a day or two. The man works as a logger and some times a farmer, she said; “It all depend on how de work coming”.
“He (Ramesh] rush out from de bush as soon he hear wah happen to baby,” Mohamed said. “He been here this morning [yesterday] to see she…me other child deh home with he.”
“Married” at 14
Mohamed, answering a question which most people ask or at least think of when they see her, does not believe she is too young to be “married” with two children.
“I know I does look young more than meh really deh,” she stated, “and plenty people when dem see me does tell me how I too young to have two children but I na think so…na man I doing jus’ good.”
At the age of 14 Mohamed met her reputed husband while living with her mother at Wakenaam, Essequibo. She has been with him since, she said.
Mohamed is the eleventh of twelve children and her father, she said, died when she was 6. Her “childhood” she said was never spent at one place. After her father’s death, she recalled, her mother was always on the move. Wherever work was her mother lived.
Craig and Grove, villages on East Bank Demerara; Bagotsville, Canal Number One, West Bank Demerara; Linden and Wakenaam are some of the places Mohamed remembers living in.
“I was 6 when meh father dead…meh mother had 11 ah we then and after he dead then she start live with meh step-father and she get another child,” Mohamed said. “Meh step-father is a cane cutter and me and meh youngest sibling used to live with he and meh mother in Grove and then Craig.”
It was while living in Craig, she recalled, that her grandfather, who died four months ago, showed up one day and took her to Linden with him. For some time, Mohamed said, she lived with her grandfather and his second wife in the mining town.
“I nah did like live there,” Mohamed said, “because me grandmother used to beat me fuh every ‘lil thing.”
Mohamed said if she didn’t do the dishes immediately or forgot to give the chickens water then she would get a “sound beating” from her grandmother. The “licks” came frequently and made life miserable for her. One day, after being dealt “a good beating”, Mohamed remembered that her mother showed up at her grandfather’s house.
“I tell them [her grandparents] that me nah living with dem no more,” she said. “I tell them I going back with me mother.”
It was shortly after she returned with her mother that she met Ramesh her reputed husband, Mohamed said. Her mother, she said, didn’t have any objections to the relationship.
“I tell she [her mother] about he [Ramesh] and she tell me that I big enough already and that this is me luck and so I tell she I going to tek he and me and he been living home ever since,” Mohamed said.
Although she is illiterate and spends her days cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and tending to her children Mohamed is happy and doesn’t think life can get any better.
“I stop go to school since nursery,” she recalled. “De licks in school de too much and I get away ah day from school and never go back.”
Her mother, she said, never pushed her to return to school and when she lived with her grandparents they expressed no interest in the subject either. Mohamed said her grandparents were more than happy to keep her home to do “house work”.
On any day Mohamed awakes early, neatens her bed, takes a bath and begins cooking. As she cooks she cleans, tends to her children and washes clothes later in the day. By afternoon, if the weather is good, she removes her dried clothes from the line and begins to think about dinner. On slow days she and her children visit relatives and maybe watch a movie and then return home in the evening to sleep and start the process again the next day.
Mohamed believes that her life would’ve been different had her father been alive.
“Meh father woulda take care of me and he wouldn’t ah let me marry so young. He woulda mek me wait like me big sister ‘til I was 22 or so and he woulda make me go to school,” Mohamed said with a smile. “But I know meh doing good…nuf people two time me age can’t do wah I doing.”
Her reputed husband, in his early 30s, teaches her to read and write a bit. They’ve discussed her attending classes and Mohamed says that as soon as things settle down with her baby she’ll start.
Before she became a mother at 17 Mohamed said she’d never known much about child care.
“I had to learn on meh own and I does try meh best,” the woman stated.
Mohamed said that although she knows what happened to her baby was an accident she still can’t help but blame herself for it.
“Listen, I know I nah throw de lamp on she but I just wish I de do things differently that day,” Mohamed said. “If meh child arm got to get cut off then I going to blame meself fuh that.”