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Election Day

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Last Week:

“What was I thinking? I can’t do this. I am no Eugenia Charles, no Janet Jagan, or Claudette Werleigh, or Indira Gandhi, or Margaret Thatcher or Kamla Persad-Bissessar…. I am just a girl from a small village who used to go to school in worn slippers, mended with safety pins…. Now I wear expensive jimmy choos with matching dresses and designer bags; now I walk with confident strides… the question is… can those strides take me to the office of Prime Minister? Is St.Vincent and the Grenadines ready to be led by a woman….”{{more}}

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t…. Margaret Thatcher….

The mirror on the wall reflects a petite woman with curly hair, inherited from her father and pulled back with military precision into a tight, no-nonsense bun; fair, smooth skin that stretches firmly across a carefully constructed expression of unbreakable confidence and down the length of the mirror, a well toned body with curves in just the right places – fully armed with a stylish John Meyer business suit.

She looks no more than about 25…. And so far, she has done well in her fight against the negative definitions and low expectations that had threatened to keep her impoverished. This image: young, strong and well poised for the battle ahead; is the result of bloody sweat and carefully concealed tears….

But as I close my eyes, the figure dissipates and the real me emerges from the darkness… the terrified, broken-hearted 34-year-old, who, secretly, would swap her practical, sterile three bedroom house for the warmth of a home and the empty silence for the voices of children; her career, for a husband.

The loud, distinct honk of my brother’s 2009 Ford Fiesta immediately propels me into turbo mode. My car had conked out on me last night and he had come to give me a lift into town.

A daub of lipstick, a scan through my handbag to make sure I have all my essentials, one last glance at the mirror and I am dashing outside. By the time I settle into the front seat, I am almost breathless.

“Good morning Aunty Kita.”

I turn around to greet my 6 year old nephew who is hugging my seat.

“Good morning my favourite nephew,” I say as I plant a big kiss on his chubby cheek.

“I am your only nephew,” he answers with an almost toothless giggle.

“Josh, sit down and put on your seat belt!” My brother commands.

I glance across at his dark, handsome face. Looking at us, you would not think we were even related. He is the spitting image of his father, and his father is not my father; but he is my mother’s son and the bond between us is stronger than most siblings’ – because of the struggle we have shared. He is all I have left….

Most times I try to forget… that there was once three of us…. Those many years ago: when Milton Cato was still prime minister and you could still buy Joe gum and boiled sweetie – crudely wrapped in grease-proof paper….

Those days when electricity and water had not yet managed to climb up the hill where we lived in Dicky and every child who could walk had already mastered the art of balancing a bucket of standpipe water on the head….

Those days… defined by our poverty… when the only meat we ever tasted was that of stolen yard fowl and river fish we had caught ourselves…

Those distant memories of my stepfather and his friends congregating, religiously, in our yard for ‘higher learning’ as they called it… when the odour of ganja seemed to cling, eternally, to the disintegrating lace curtains and the worn and wounded settee with its foam innards exposed… in that one -room construction that we used to call our home.

I could still recall sitting underneath our house with my tattered West Indian reader… small, pretty pictures that were my escape from the too-big-for-me world in which I lived. But my brother would always know just here to find me…

“Kita ley ahwe go ah river nuh…” Hezron’s words… echoes through the hallway of time.

“Kita,” his voice, now base and strong, ejects me from my daydream and returns me to the car. We are just outside Prep School watching Josh walk through the gates.

“Hmm?” I answer.

He sighs and returns his attention to the road as he starts driving again.

“Ah hear something last night which…. boy ah really hope is not true…. but ah say I have to ask you…”

Suddenly I could hear a banging in my chest as if my heart is colliding hard against some foreign object. I hold my breath and wait for the bomb to drop….

The story continues

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