She is in her thirties, but still timid around her parents and older relatives. She does not ‘talk back’ even though she has opinions of her own. And because she is unmarried, she is accused of being a prostitute, if she is seen talking to the opposite sex.
“Sometimes I am ashamed, but that is just how my family is. And in as much as I know it is wrong, I just don’t want to rock the boat. But I rebel in my own way at times,” she said in a matter-of-fact manner.
“And it is just the women, well we get the brunt of it, but even the younger males are controlled and are forced to take almost anything the elders say,” said the well-educated and informed woman.
“I know it sounds strange to you and might even sound stupid but that’s just the way it is,” she said.
“It is like these people are not preparing your to stand on your own and they are not catering for after they would have died. What do they expect you to do if they continue to control your life and everything you do?” she questioned, not expecting an answer.
“Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that I just sit and accept it all. I do my own rebelling but sometimes I am even shocked at my docile manner when dealing with the adults in my family, especially my father. At this age I am still hiding things from him. Yes, I know I still in his house; I don’t disrespect him in anyway.
“I am working, so I am earning. Yet to simply go out at times is a problem and you wonder, in this day and age?”
University trained, this woman is not married and does not have children.
“I have not met the right person,” she reasons. “But maybe it is the rebellious streak in me because all they seem to expect is that we should stay lock up until we find a husband and that is it. Is like from one keeper to the next, that is not living at all.
“And then I’m not married yet because I still want to see the world. I want to travel, see places and experience different cultures. Now if I marry and have children I can’t do that. I don’t want to just grow up, marry and then raise a family. That is what my mother and her mother, her sisters and cousins did; I want more.
“And to tell you the truth it’s not just my family, most of the women I know who are not married and live with their parents are controlled by their parents. They don’t really go anywhere and it’s like they are waiting for their husbands.”
I asked her, since she is working, why not explore the idea of moving out of her parents’ home and living on her own.
“To be honest I thought about it but I don’t earn enough to live alone right now and I don’t want to have to struggle just to live. And if I live on my own then I can’t save up any money to travel. I want to travel, that is my goal. I want to see places.
“… I don’t really know any woman living by herself, you have to be so scared with all the crime going on. And then they would say I gone on my own to do my own thing,” she said with a slight smile.
“It is like they don’t want to see you talking to man but yet you are supposed to marry a man. What is wrong if you talk to the opposite sex? After all it is one of those you are expected to marry.”
In answer to a question I asked, she said, “No. My parents never brought a man and told me to marry him.
“Maybe they know me too well to know that it is something I would never agree to, not in this day and age.
“Imagine I have an aunt who is 50, yes, 50 years old and she can’t leave the house without her husband’s permission. Now this a man who has been unfaithful to her on many occasions and does not treat her with any respect but she has to ask him to leave the house. Could you believe that?” she asked incredulously.
“And I have aunts if I go by them at this age—I am over 30—they would tell me if I go out I have to come back by sundown and when I come back they want to have every detail about where I went and what I did.
“Maybe it is not the same in Georgetown but in the country that is how it is. I love to read and I am always educating myself and I know it is not right. Too many women, some of them educated with jobs, allow their husbands to control their every move. Why must we give men so much power?”
After that question, which I did not answer – she did not look to me for an answer – she sat staring at me almost embarrassed. We are not friends and the chance meeting was of a professional nature. I figured she was asking herself, ‘how the hell did we get here?’
Sensing her discomfort I told her it is quite fine with me and I understood where she was coming from. Well I understood the words she spoke but I am not sure I really got it. I mean in this day and age?
“Maybe one day I would get married or maybe I wouldn’t. And maybe, well that is more than maybe, I will not marry in my ethnicity at least not from my area. I want someone who understands that women need to leave too and that we are not just there to be controlled and to be at your beck and call.
“I understand, well I don’t, but I respect their decision, if a woman is comfortable with such a life. But I am not and after leaving this keeper [her parent’s home] I am certainly not going to another keeper.
“But girl let’s get back to what we came here to discuss, it is just sometimes I am just so upset and people who I think are more educated than me seem to accept this thing. But enough about that.”
We then moved into what we had really met to discuss. I am still in disbelief at what was described to me.