2011 “SMALL GARDEN WITH BITTER WEEDS.”
− “In most cases when people talk about others they are talking
about themselves.” Unknown
− “If you do the same things over and over you will get the same
− “Man to man so unjust, yo don’t know who to trust. Yo best
friend can be yo worst enemy an yo worst enemy can be yo best
friend.” Hon Bob Marley
− “It takes a village to raise a child.” An African perspective
On returning to the place of my birth after forty years, I visited
a small village on the East Coast of Demerara in Guyana. It is also
the birthplace of a friend and we had been pen-pals for some time.
The area is small, beautiful, and quiet except for the noise created
by the traffic on the newly constructed public road. Also it’s about
two miles from where we lived years ago. It is like any other village
where my father worked as a public health inspector when he was
Travelling along the road to her home, it seemed long. Guess it
was the length of time staying away from Guyana. The visual reference
didn’t make sense and it was late at night. The changes were
also due to more houses built along the way. The distance between
places looked unknown and further away. There was a loss of my
direction and placement of what was remembered from the past.
Finally, refused to know where we were and just sat back and enjoyed
the ride. Arrived tired and had an early night in bed, which
was not a practice, living in Canada for years.
The next day, got up early, took a walk around the village, and
realized I was a stranger in my own land. While walking, saw houses
built on both sides of the main road facing each other that occupied
large portions of land. Some parcel of land was handed down
through inheritance from past families or bought by people who
moved in the community. The homes are constructed on the north
and south sides with the main road moving between the homes and
traversing from west to east. Those houses on the north side have
the Atlantic Ocean as their background with lovely blue skies, cool
breeze, and farmlands.
The houses on the south side occupy land travelling beyond
what the eyes can see. Beside the houses, the land is used for farming
and carries a variety of different fruit trees. The homes stretch
out not in a linear fashion but occupy their own space. They are
created in their styles and sizes as seen fit by the owners or builders.
The houses aren’t only separated by the main road but are accompanied
by waterways (trenches) meandering in the same direction
beside the road on both sides, which also divide the village.
Wider waterways were also created for irrigating the rice lands,
starting from the Atlantic Ocean north and continuing inward
south. This intake of water makes its way south and is placed in
strategic locations in various sections cutting across the land. Koker
structures control the flow of the water inland during high and low
tide during (rain or low tide) different times of the seasons.
The vast land also attracts different species of birds, flowers, insects,
and small plants, which support its natural habitat. The rich
ecosystem of the South American climate enhances the area with
lush green vegetation accompanied by picturesque sunsets for nature
lovers. Unlike North America, one can enjoy the quietness and
the sunset which changes colour. The beautiful moon in the sky
at night, which is not always seen in North America, must not be
forgotten. It is a treat to observe before retiring to bed early and rising
early in the mornings. Most villagers retire to bed early because
of limited electric light in the homes and along the main road. At
night, if there is a heavy rainfall there is an interlude of music to
be heard from raindrops (heavy and light) on the galvanized roof
of homes. The sounds of insects venturing out at night time can be
heard. Lastly at night time, after a rainfall one has to know where
and how to walk without the help of light and not walking in a pool
Surprisingly, after a week, remembered much of my past living
in the rural areas when it came to being aware of the surrounds, especially
at night. Sounds heard from the past returned and became
curious of the new ones encountered, for the first time. One day,
while sitting in the backyard alone, became attracted to a peculiar
and repeated sound. I had to investigate where it was coming from
and who was making it. To my surprise a bird was making the
sounds. The bird was a Kiskadee (yellow), a Guyana national. It had
captured a worm in its beak and was striking it against a tree trunk.
The bird was killing the worm for a meal. It was a surprise because
I never knew the bird had to kill before eating.
Some of the other things, that was not surprised to see again
were different fruit, drinks, and food, not eaten for some time, and
I enjoyed relaxing ventures. But some things took me no time to get
− Wood ants invading the house. They construct enclosed
walkways on the wall, preventing them from being seen as
they move around.
− Small ants that enter sugar jars (if left open) and take every
grain away. They also get into the butter, get stuck, and it
cannot be used again. For that matter, all foods had to be
secured (day and night) properly from the uninvited crawlers
looking for food.
− Seeing my friend’s daughter climb a coconut tree to pick
nuts for me to drink.
− Returning home after dark and having to use a flashlight to
aid in seeing the way home.
− Lighting an oil lamp for use in the home at night. Also leaving
the lamp lit all night with limited amount of brightness
− Taking a shower at night and early mornings by using water
in a bucket and a pan to throw the water on the body.
During the day you can see what you are doing but at night
you have to feel for what you want (soap, pan to get water,
and the bucket of water) in the dark.
− Seeing frogs (large or small) jumping around the house or
in the yard at night. The small cold-water frogs love to stay
in the cold bathroom and jump at the sight of light and any
movement of shadow. They caught me by surprise having
a bath one night by jumping on me. The small frogs also
love to be in water jars and wherever they hang out they
stay close together. One who is not accustomed to the small
frogs can enter the bath and see a set of shining eyes on a
beam and never have a bath.
− Dark red wasps called marabunta which build nests on
houses (inside or outside) in an upside-down cone shape.
They rest on the cone upside down (backs to the ground
and feet on the cone shape). They have a habit of flying
around in the house and out the windows. When flying
they suddenly move in and strike. Their stinger is left stuck
in the flesh of the person. They seem to reach for one’s eyes.
I tried to keep away from them but one night while walking
in the house, I saw one and was on my guard but got
slightly bitten. Had I not seen it, its sting would have been
harmful. A sting that is unforgotten.
− Seeing the house being swept with a broom made from the
leaf of the coconut tree. It really does the job of getting unwanted
dust from the house.
− Washing clothes by hand and placing them on a line outside
in the sun to dry. One has to be on the lookout for a
change of the weather (rain) and remove the clothes before
they get soaked.
− Using the outside toilet mostly during the day and not at
nights. An act one has to master and remember how to use
it in comfort.
− Large bucket of fresh cow milk bought every Tuesday and
the different ways it was used after it was boiled.
− Rearing chickens in the yard. Feeding them and watching
them eat by pecking action. Also hearing them making
noise all day and night. Protection had to be built around
them so dogs or wild animals will not get into the cage to
− Preparing food the old way by cooking with a coal-pot and
coals. It is a job that has to be seen. As early as 5 a.m. meals
are prepared to beat the heat, which takes over on a sunny
− The amount of food served on a plate for each meal I was
not accustomed to and couldn’t consume in one sitting.
− Lastly the insects that fly around by day like bees, sand flies
one does not see but feels them when bitten, spiders, flies,
lizards, mice, and roaches. The night invaders like mosquitos,
which seem not to be around when it rains. Cannot
leave out rats, snakes, and ticks, which get into one’s skin
and get fat by sucking a person’s blood, from walking in the
grass and sand. They have to be removed when found.
In spite of the romantic setting, the heavenly paradise is also
accompanied by a cesspool of evil characters lurking in the background
that lash out with sudden attacks. These devious residents
don’t fit in with the peaceful surroundings and leave a bad smell
combined with evil eyes placed on a person’s body. Don’t forget
dirty statements leaving the lips and entering the ears of all around.
The human group survives by always begging (give me dis or dat)
joined with a “crab-in-a-barrel” attitude and very envious attitude
projected toward others.
The underground group has no self-worth, education, social
skills, or desire to develop further in life. Their best social skill is
to party any time, drink booze (“get-on-bad”), and engage in sexual
encounters with multiple partners. The low-minded elements
spend time gossiping about each other no matter how minute the
incident/story is. In most cases they build constructed information
(based on false facts) creating total unrest among villagers. The redeveloped
facts become toxic, leaving devastation, impregnating
others with pain. The destructive seeds become external, creating
internal conflict for those talked about.
People’s weapon (mouth) of mass destruction is used against
others, leading to verbal or physical abuse or murder. This later
involves the police and finally the legal system for settlement. Most
of the rebellious villagers are of different ages. The most surprising
is family of the same ethnic group attacking each other. On the
other side, extended members through marriages produce mixed
children. These ugly conspirators’ behaviour in the community is
mostly based on jealous thinking of their enemies whose lifestyles
are better and different.
Other reasons envy can arise:
− Different colour of skin or hair
− Failing to socialize with the group
− Being more educated
− Being gainfully employed
− Receiving money (remit) or barrels from foreigners
− Dressing better and eating at the highest level of the food
− Lastly, any change in life creates conditions for being a target
of repeated verbal abuse from the envious group who
has developed antisocial behaviour toward other villagers.
Mother used to tell us a story.
Some people who work only have a pair of pants and shirt to
wear. After returning home the clothes are washed then left to dry.
After drying they are ironed every day so they can look their best at
work. Workers then attack such persons because they take pride in
their physical appearance. The workers will never know some persons
only have the clothes worn.
The dysfunctional and venomous minds get involved in personal
attacks because they are corrupted. Their lifestyle is filled with
unhealthy acts and practices of promiscuous behaviour not accepted
by the people attacked and discredited. Propaganda acts are accepted
in their world as natural to survive and are executed without
fear or shame. They know the wrongs committed but don’t care.
What is strange is that most of the people offended are their friends/
family who helped them in the past, but interaction has vanished.
The corruption against others in the village has been ongoing
for three and four generations and mostly has to do with ownership
of land. It seems to have festered and become cancerous as time
passes. There is no sign of stopping. It is now continued by the
youths without any attempt of breaking the cycle of repeated physical
and verbal abuse on others over family property. Most of the
women who represent mothers have failed to continue as parents.
They now lack pride in nurturing their young by preparing them
for tomorrow’s world. What is funny is that some men are attracted
to these types of vulgar women and engage in loving relationships.
They have lost all respect from their peers and have also failed as
responsible adults. I should note, women with male children should
treat their male partners who they trust with love and respect. If
they don’t, their sons will not have respect for a woman and will
suffer at the hand of the woman (karma). The cesspool environment
now nurtures lifestyles where mothers (in most cases fathers aren’t
around) and children in the village have the same sexual partners
(women/men of all ages) for money and food. No one cares and no
one respects the other. These families (mothers and children) can
be seen enjoying themselves drinking alcohol in bars around the
The promiscuous habits they see fit for enjoyment intoxicates
their young, giving rise to an increase of
− Rape, incest, orgies, and polygamy leading to abortions (approved
by mothers) and teenage pregnancies (illegitimate
children with unknown fathers)
− Drug use, producing liars, thieves, hate, sexually transmitted
diseases, and suicide
− Continual state of poverty.
Most of these women are victims of verbal and physical abuse.
As a result, they find it hard to be involved in meaningful relationships
with men even if they aren’t from the village. Memories of
past involvement with men have now placed doubt in their minds.
In this state they don’t sleep relaxed and peaceful. If touched, they
jump out of their sleep in a defensive stand, thinking it is an abuse
or any other type of punishment that might be encountered. As it
is said in the Caribbean, they are sleeping with one eye open. The
use of wrong words or phrases can also trigger a defensive response.
It represents information once used against them leading into arguments.
Because of low self-esteem they think it is important to
be informed what their male partner is doing (how sad). The end
result is it has become hard for men who want honest relationships
based on love and not war not to run into trouble getting involved
with these women who are unsure of what it takes to get involved
in long-term friendships.
They now try to protect themselves and in most cases, endure
mood swings that change every minute. In the minds of these women,
men are men and are all doing the same (rounding around with
women). Their thoughts have developed for the practices of men on
a daily basis and cannot be trusted. The daily habits of the men lack
total love, respect, and honour. They also cannot be trusted and will
fail to totally participate in meaningful relations.
− Why do men stay in unhappy relationships filled with abuse
when most can do better?
− Why are some men attracted to women who they abuse?
− Why do they always think she is going to change? A beast is a
beast and will be nothing more.
− Why do women hide the abuse and lie about the bruises and
never get him arrested?
− Why do they refuse therapy and if they do they never continue?
Men become abusive toward women to maintain control over
them in relationships. This kind of man is weak, insecure, and inferior
to the woman’s personality, which becomes a threat. In placing
the woman under control, her power is taken away and suppressed.
During this time, she becomes subservient with the aggressive behaviour
directed toward her. Being so abused, guilty, filled with
fear and shame about the situation, she keeps away from family and
friends and never talks about the abusive relationship. In most cases
the women are not financially and emotionally supported and in
some cases the men are the breadwinners. This makes them fearful
of the future while living in a relationship that is doomed to fail.
Due to the inabilities in the house they become angry and the anger
is transferred to the children as a payback for the man’s abuse.
What is strange to me is that in today’s world, where it is easy to
be educated for betterment in life, these people (women, children,
and men) do not take advantage of it. The envious and dysfunctional
group either does not know or wish to know they can further develop
themselves by returning to school. They can be re-educated and find
gainful employment instead of hating others. They are engulfed in
their misguided thought structure of deplorable lifestyle, which will
eventually bite them. They do not see a better future but continue to
live deplorable lifestyles and refuse to live a more productive life.
The group’s cynical and contaminating lifestyle plagues and influences
the society, which is destructive despite diseases that are
killing people. Living without moral principles and engaging in
multiple sexual partners by using their bodies for small amounts
of monies keeps them in the same state of mind. Driving on their
destructive highway of life, it is possible the mothers have forgotten
what self-respect is or were never taught as children. Do they
not know, if a child is not given the experience of a meaningful
existence in this world of repeated suppression, that child will fail?
The child will not develop a secure base knowledge of self and will
manifest behaviours which will not be accepted by society. That
child will exhibit anger and revengeful behaviours such as attention seeking
behaviour, insecurity and antisocial traits, violence, lying
and bragging, selfishness, etc. The behaviour will be directed toward
authority and weak figures.
− What has caused people to make such radical changes especially
in terms of personal attacks on others?
− Was it always like this when I was growing up, a world with
no love for others? No respect or being helpful toward other human
It is surprising when religious people react in non-Christian
ways toward other human beings. We are all human beings affected
by different negative influences that attack each of us. But there are
religious people who proclaim to believe in their doctrine of “love
thy neighbour as thy self” and react toward others in an ungodly
− Should people then worry when those who are not religious react
the way they do?
The answer might be, the only person one can trust is oneself.
The religious people have either refused, forgotten, or were never
taught Christian traits and project toward its members they must
fear and believe in one God. The masses are directed by the hierarchy
of the church and must believe and keep up their religious
principles/laws that are the teachings of Christianity:
Thou shall have no other Gods but me/before me.
Thou shall not make unto thee any graven images.
Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honour thy father and mother.
Thou shall not kill.
Thou shall not commit adultery.
Thou shall not steal.
Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shall not covert thy neighbour’s house.
Sayings heard (from parents) as a child in the Caribbean not
heard today. If you…
− Give freely, you will receive in return (from unknown
− Cannot make a good remark about another person it is better
to remain silent.
− Be happy, you will be faithful hopeful and loving under the
daily trials and tribulations that enter your space.
− Believe in God (who does not promote hate, evil, or temptation),
you will receive the rewards of a better life as promised.
God promotes love, peace, unity, and eternal life.
− Accept failure, then failure will be a part of your life, but if
you are exposed to being successful, you will succeed.
− Are self-reliant, positive, and optimistic and undertake
working with the assurances of success, you draw the creative
powers of the universe, expect the best, and never
think about the worst.
− Reject negative thoughts that the worst can happen, they
− Avoid entertaining concepts of the worst, it will not grow
there. Take the best in and it is enough. Also believe you
have the stamina to meet obstacles and struggle to overcome
− Get involved in any situation for the first time, always
think about the worst-case scenario and a way to get out.
Lastly, always respect elders (within the family or those on
the streets) and that respect will be returned. Today the behaviour
has shifted, leaving a lack of respect on both sides
− Could it be fear created through the teachings of Eurocentric
thoughts, which deal with greed, power, control, and war
but lack human love and respect?
We are caught up in a world stagnated with individualism practices
corrupting the cultures of the new world (no one cares for or
respects the other). Being courteous to others has taken a backseat
and is not practiced every day in North America. When expressed
the results are amazing. Women don’t know how to respond when
a man opens a door for them. Other deeds that create negative responses
(fear) in women today:
− Thank you.
− Excuse me.
− Can I help you?
− How are you doing?
− Good morning.
− Have a nice day.
L E FRANKLIN B F A Hons.