In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Stupid Cupid: Part Two

During my last week in Haiti, the nannies raised the issue of infidelity again.

One lady reccounted her family's experience of infidelity over three generations. She told us about the Grandmother, who taught her unfaithful man a very tangible lesson. You want to stay with another woman, then go and eat at her table because you wont find anything at mine. When the man delivered a blow in response, the Grandmother's sons stepped in and dealt with their Father man-to-man.

Twenty years later, when the Grandmother's daughter was adandoned by her own philandering husband, the grandchildren acted swiftly. In a demonstration of solidarity with their Mother, they omited his name from their birth certificates and cut off all contact with their Father, for a time.

And the Grand-daughter, the woman standing in front of me; her boyfriend told her she was crazy not to take him back. She replied that she worked away from home, five days out of every seven to support their son. She let him know that if he wanted to see the boy, he was welcome to do so on any of one of her five work days. She added that if he wanted to contribute something to the boys upkeep, that was fine too. Apparently, the child's Father does just that.

I hesitate to say that these three ladies were privaledged to have the support of their families, because I doubt that the women consider themselves lucky. In different circumstances though, they may have lost their children to starvation or disease, surrendered them into slavery, or, in desperation, and bitterness, abandoned their babies at the gate of the infidel. Out of revenge, the man may, in turn, have relinquished the children into the care of an orphanage. In situations like these, Fathers say the Mother is dead. To them she is.

I am glad that that the women I heard about were able and willing to take a stand, and that their children were never caught in the middle of revenge and counter-attack. The Grand-daughter's children will eat, receive medical care, go to school. I told her that the women in her family had set an example. Perhaps it is too naively romantic to hope that the grand-daughter's influence will seep into the hearts of the babies in her care, and that they would be imbued with her courage. If they were, surely they would also absorb the indescribable sorrow and gall of a betrayed Mother and lover.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Welcome back home Susan, I hope it is not too hard to be away from your babies.
Catherine (Momy to Nad├Ęge)