While many mothers are enjoying this Mother’s Day with their families, it would be just an “ordinary” day for Dhanrajie Seebarran, who is more concerned about where her next meal would come from.
A single mother of six, she told the Sunday Stabroek in an interview that because of the struggles she endured, she never really celebrated the occasion but would “try to cook something nice”.
Sometimes she would spend about $400 to “buy chicken [to make curry] and stretch it with potato to make it do fuh all awe.” This year she was also hoping to get the money to buy one chicken to cook.
She lamented that since she met the father of her children 17 years ago (whom she later got married to), life has been an uphill battle.
And although she faced constant abuse and hardships she stuck with him with the hope that someday life would get better.
She also refused to leave even though the abuse continued because they had both worked and built a one-bedroom house on a plot of land at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara.
But sadly, instead of improving, life took a turn for the worse in March this year when the man threw her and the children out of the house.
She is even more heartbroken because she learnt that he took another woman to live with him.
Seebarran said she knew about the other woman but whenever she confronted him he would deny and start to verbally and physically abuse her.
He even found the slightest excuse to beat her and she constantly lived in fear. Now that she is away from him she is happy and at peace although her hardship has not ended.
Dhanrajie and the children moved to a brother’s humble home on the West Coast of Berbice.
They cook on a fireside in a separate kitchen with living area and stay there most of the day. Another brother, Clint Seebarran who is unemployed and appears to be mentally challenged sleeps in that area.
She and her children sleep in another building in the same yard with her mother, Ronie (one name) known as ‘Aunty Data.’ Ronie, a pensioner cooks separately.
Since she moved to Berbice, Seebarran has had to “pinch de lil money or ration we get from people sometimes and from when ah get work.”
So far she was able to get two of the younger children to start school while two of the older children are still waiting to be enrolled.
Although life is tough, she said, she would never neglect her children and would try her best to take care of them.
She recalled that her husband would beat her over the food she cooked, if it did not please him. When she tried to stay away from him he would accuse her of having another man and find more reasons to abuse her.
If she dared tried to defend herself, he would lock her and the children out of the house, even late at nights.
They would be out on the road and later return and wait under the house. When she believed that he calmed down she would beg him to let them in again.
The man was always abusive and she said: “drunk or sober he used to beat me…” but Seebarran’s attempts to leave him were not successful.
The last time she walked out of the home they shared on the West Coast of Berbice, she stayed with relatives on the ECD.
But he followed her and ended up staying there as well. He secured a job at the sugar estate as a cane-harvester while she did part-time domestic work with residents.
They then applied for the house lot and built a small house. “He stop drink ‘bout three years now after people talk to he that the children getting big. But he does still smoke a lot…”
Seebarran said she tried her best to be a good wife and mother and said sadly: “Sometimes ah does go in the hammock and cry and ask myself wat meh really do fuh meh husband treat me suh.”
And on July 31, 2016, as if life was not hard enough, her husband injured his right leg in an accident and had to quit his job.
He was bedridden for almost a year and during that time Seebarran “look after he. Ah do everything fuh he.” During that time he was very calm and they got along very well.
But that good relationship did not last too long, she said. “As soon as he start to walk and do things on his own again, he start to torment meh.”
Around October last year when he could walk a little better, he resorted to begging for a living. But all he gave her each time he came back was $800.
“I hear he does make more than that… So that’s how I suspect that he still had the other lady. People see them and tell me tuh,” She told this newspaper.
Seebarran said they survived by the grace of God with the little that she earned and contented with what he gave her “because ah din want problems. I had to go out and beg people for food and money…”
This reporter got to know about the woman’s plight from Latchmin Azeez, who is the leader of the National Islamic Sisters’ Association (NISA) in Region 5.
“One of our NISA members lives close to them and she told us about their situation. A group of us decided to pay them a visit to see how we can help and we took some food items for the family,” she said.
She contacted this newspaper so as to highlight what women face and with today being Mother’s Day, she felt it was the perfect time to do that.
Azeez, who is also the sub-regional Community Development Officer, said that would not be the end of the help to the woman and that they would continue to make regular visits.