they’re in their 20’s, deep in the throes of sweet first love- smoldering glances, lingering touches and all. they sit as close together as decently possible, ignoring the fruit punch slushifying in the fancy glasses in front of them. the sun is hot hot but nothing compared to the looks that pass between them. although they live in the same village, this is one of the few, rare occasions that they are able to see each other.
the request for help went first to a former co-worker who had since migrated, who reached out to someone who had done some workshop activity in the area years ago, who then contacted us. days went by before the first tentative message came in. “our families don’t accept us.”
guyana is full of montague and capulet families, fighting to the death for reasons unknown or long forgotten. sometimes it’s a race issue. sometimes economic. not forgetting the religious bigotry. land of six people, one nation, one destiny blah blah, but keep to your own kind, hear! is we heritage and we achilles heel and no amount of oil is going to fix that. in this case though, too much of one’s own kind is also a bad thing apparently.
K is the younger and more outgoing member of the couple, an only daughter and “good girl” with 8 CXC subjects who never expected her parents to beat her. “they drew blood from me that night..”
M is the older, quieter one, a former daddy’s girl. “he used to treat me like he son sometimes. i thought, if anybody would be on my side, it would have been him. but since he find out, he stop talk to me.. my mother is more accepting- well, she was telling me about getting married but i asked her if she wanted me to be raped every day for the rest of my life, because that’s what it would be for me- and like that affect her. but she doesn’t want me living around them anymore. people in the village does tell them things.. she always crying..”
king sugar no longer rules in their village. ignorance is still lord though. one heartening thing though is that the police at the neighboring station are not part of the oppression. “they told my parents that no, it’s not against the law for me to be in a relationship with another woman.”
they bring us gifts- purple grapes, pink and white sugar cake, and tiny yellow skinned mangoes like i’ve never seen before. they smell like turpentines but i’ve never seen them this small. mother nature is diverse and full of glorious surprise though. we hug and then hug some more. the shyness evaporates as we gyaff and laff, sharing stories of our own families, first and forbidden love escapades. this is what revolution looks like.
“this is the first time we’re meeting people who accept us.” the thank you messages keep coming in. i get back home, overwhelmed, and go to bed with an aching head. my heart is happy though. two more young Guyanese women have hope for a brighter future. a luta continua.