SO MUCH THINGS TO CRY FOR AND YOU LAUGHING?

When you hear Merle Seyjagat Olton talk about the  “sad reason I love making people happy’, you will quickly understand why Trinis are very good at laughing at themselves under the painful cloak of tears which is taken as par for the course in this land of music, dance and comedy.

My first school was Arima Presbyterian on Cocorite Road. By then, Mommy and Daddy had separated. So y’girl going to school when she feel like it. Or when she remember she had school. Because we had nobody there with us. After that, I never got to enter secondary until Mommy eventually took us and I attended Arima Girls Government. I left there with only distinctions in the school-leaving exams. After that I took evening classes, doing things on my own. I only stopped taking courses at the age of about 40.

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“When Mommy left, I never had anybody that was interested enough to look after me. If I gave you my story, you would cry. But I always had that push for myself to be something”, she poignantly confides in Newsday’s BC Pires.

The mother a son and two daughters put her situation in context:

“I love animals. I had a pet rabbit and, anywhere I sit down in the house, I just had to knock the floor and she would come to me. Because she grew up inside. One Sunday morning, I went to the market and when I came back, my ex-husband had my rabbit skinned in a basin, waiting to curry. That broke my heart. I never owned a pet after that.

“I come from a very abusive background. As a child, I saw my mother being beaten and abused on countless occasions by my father. She met someone and she left when I was about eight. She took my baby sister but left the rest of us, I would say, to fend for ourselves. Because Daddy didn’t care. Daddy was a very violent alcoholic”.

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Listen to the same message of abuse as a natural way of life in L\old man Lord Nelson’s We Like It where he sings about the woman gratefully receiving 

Ah little Tay, Little Jay, Ah Little rough up She Nuf Nuff

O Lord Blakie who sang:

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Maria, Yuh bettah tell dem de Facts

If you leave me, gyul yuh bound to come back

I’s not easy, to spend Blakie Money

Maria let dem know

The   pressure dey have to undergo!

It’s against this background that Trinis will appreciate how has been lost with the changing times as old, tranquil experiences are fast overtaken in the rush and roar of today’s young and restless traffic.

Merle Seyjagat Olton

“Girl days in Arima was fantastic, easygoing. If you jump in a taxi, the taxi knew where you were going. You coulda walk the streets at any hour. Everybody knew everybody and was friendly. I don’t feel safe in Arima anymore. Three-quarters of the people, I no longer know. It has become a hot spot.

The girl who got her first job at 15  babysitting in her grandparents’ Presbyterian Church, started attending evangelical church and became ta ‘born again.’ Evangelist.

Babysitters Are a Scarce Commodity, and Prices Are Going up

 “Sometimes, I ask myself how bad things could happen to good people. It makes you question: why do babies get cancer?”

I try to be as kind and as funny as I can be. I
love
to have people going, laughing, talking, smiling. I think it’s because I know what loss is, what sadness is, what it it is to not have.

I come across a lot of people who come with an attitude, as we say. And I will have that person smiling and laughing in minutes. I break the mood they are in. I don’t think people want to be miserable. So I look for ways of bringing them out.

“To be funny and joking with people comes very natural to me. Spend ten minutes with me, you might pee your pants”! she tells Pires

I think I became this funny person from maybe in my teen years. I started looking at people and thinking, “I sure I could make that person laugh!” Every time we see somebody and they’re grumpy and we judge them, we need to stop doing that. ‘Cause we don’t know what is going on. Sometimes all they need is a smile, laugh or maybe a hug. So my thing is to just have you cracking up.

Image representing child abuse. Photo source: echopress.com

As regards finding help in her domestic violence situation, Merle Olton tells Newsday about the kind of dilemma which many abused find themselves trapped in for a very long time.

“My big sister tried as a child herself but there was nobody to look after us, to guide us. We were surrounded by relatives but we got no help at all. When we went by my granny or by aunties, they would run us. So I went into the forest every single day looking for manitou fig to eat. Walking up the riverbank to the seminary, I used to thief their oranges and portugals to eat”.

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Daddy would be away for the whole week. One night he came home and he had like a vengeance against us because Mommy leave him and he line us up against a wardrobe and took up his gun. And, when it was time to fire, the gun stick. And all of us just scatter in different directions. I slept in the bush anytime he was around. That’s why I said I would go to school when I remembered today was school.

“One night Daddy send me in the shop for a bottle of pitch oil and I asked him for a penny and he cursed me and run me out the house. I went and get the pitch oil and, when I came back, the whole house was closed up. So I pulled a window and saw him hanging. I started screaming and ran next door to my uncle”.

199,597 Hanged Man Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

The ironic wave of grief which rushed at Olton on seeing he father hanging, swung  across her confused mind as the possibility that she might lose the only man she knew as her father, could actually happen. 

I couldn’t talk at all, just screaming. One of my cousins slapped me and asked what happened. And all I could answer was, “Daddy hanging!” And they ran over and saved him.”

And here’s the rub: “And it was the sweetest cut-a… I ever get because he find I shouldn’t have alert nobody. Five years later, when I was 13, he drank poison and killed himself.”

I used to walk through a dump in Malabar and go by Mummy and Mummy would bring me back. I’s try to understand it and I guess she wasn’t in a position to take us at that time. But, when I was 11 going into 12, she finally came and took me.

The effect of childbirth no-one talks about - BBC Future

I lived with my husband and children until I built up the courage to leave. I always promised myself that, what I went through in childhood, my children would never have to do that. And I made sure they never did.

She summarizes her life in this way: “ I think I use my unhappy childhood to make others laugh. Because I know what pain feels like. It has made me the woman I am today, a strong, proud, loving, funny Trini to D Bone.”

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Thank you, Merle Seyjagat Olton for sharing your uplifting story with us.

Thank you, BC Pires for telling us Merle’s story in the sneakily poignant way that only you can! 

Trini To The Bone with BC Pires

You may Email us at williamsrudolph72@gmail.com

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