I wanted to get some feedback on what I had written and see if it made any sense; since I had written a story of life in a country that I had been away from for some time.
The response that I got from everyone gave me the belief that though I had been away for that long period of time, I was able to recreate true life scenarios. Scenarios that existed or once existed in St Joseph, where I was born, went to school, played on the dirt playing field, listened to stories or made stories as my friends and I gathered on the steps of my grandparents’ house on Back Street or on the pile of stones under the breadfruit tree that grew in their backyard, with no fear of anything but “lougawou” and “ladjables.”
Those who read the drafts were amazed that I was able to “speak” like the characters as if I had been with them all those years. Some expressed their surprise that I was still able to sound so authentic. At that point I realized that my efforts at writing that book were not in vain.
But this is what “Ma William and Her Circle of Friends” is all about…a look into the past, not only, I am sure, in Senjo, the community where I grew up, but in many others in Dominica and other parts of the Caribbean, I would venture to say.
One person who bought a copy of the book sent me a note to tell me how much she had enjoyed reading the book, and she indicated that there is a Bamboo (my dear friend – a special character) in every island of the Caribbean, even in Trinidad, her island home.
So, is the story of Ma William and her “trusted” friends, a Caribbean story? Is this a story representative of life in the other islands like Saint Lucia, Trinidad, Saint Vincent or Jamaica? Are there other Ma Williams and her gangs everywhere else in the Caribbean?
As a people of an identical cultural background, I would like to think so. We all discuss and deal with similar issues: politics, education, migration, agriculture, lack of honest government and politicians and the invasion of the American life styles in almost everything we do.
Ma Williams is not just a story of one group of “misfits,” the downtrodden, the poor or maléwé, as some may call them, but a microscopic look at a wider region and the way things have been, the way things were and a way of life. Like Dr Alwin Bully, who wrote the introduction says, “The old structures and mores of civil society are beginning to fall apart.”
Can it ever return? I leave that question to you? Make your own judgments and feel free to leave a comment. But deep down, I believe that there will always be a Ma William, a Ma Simbert or a Bamboo or a Mr Jones, or a young man mesmerized by a foreign evangelist, wanting to become part of a congregation, getting “the call,” yet, concerned about what the community may think of him, including his own “friends,” at the shop where he helps out. He doubts himself as he thinks of what his friends at the shop may say rather than make his own decision and live with it. Ma William had some “power,” even when she was not there.