I thought some of my readers might like to meet Oni Hiaru, a Carib medicine woman who is a major character in my trilogy, The Jacinta Joseph Caribbean Adventures. Oni is a wise woman. In this excerpt, Oni is talking to my detective Jacinta “JJ” Joseph. As the scene opens, JJ is describing Oni to the reader.
Oni seemed to radiate love, to be love. Oni spoke and acted like a mother with a new child with everyone and every thing—even a pot or a tea leaf. And it was natural, not so much what she was doing, nor how she was doing it, but who she was. Her actions seemed in slow motion, as if she was taking time to love the water, love the pot, love the charcoal.
“Oni, can I ask you about some anger I have?” JJ asked.
“I’ll do my best.”
“I was working in New Jersey for over twenty years. The men there get promoted faster than women; the white men get promoted faster than anyone. I didn’t see any difference in what I did and what they did, but they get the big office and the big money. I was mad, so I retired, but I’m still mad, and I can’t let it go.”
Oni sat on the edge of her porch looking out at the jungle. She seemed to be watching a large purple-gray gecko that was waddling up a fern tree at the edge of the clearing.
“Well, dear. The men are like little boys, you know. We must be patient with them. My grandmother told me that her tribe always honored women, but the white people came. The whites taught the men that women were low. Some even said that women are evil. The tribe lost the knowledge that women must be respected. These white men made their own rules to suit themselves. The white men taught the black men. They taught those rules to the girls, then the girls grew up thinking they were low. Now men and some women think men are better. Then, one day a woman like you figures out that men are not better. Now there is a problem. Someday, we will go back to the old ways.”
“But how can I get past this anger?” JJ asked.
“The anger is at yourself, girl. Anger always eat at you. It doesn’t hurt those men in New Jersey. The answer is contentment. We must be content and leave the anger to God.”
JJ said, “I’ll work on that. … Wait a minute—how can we be content when so many things are going wrong?”
“You must think of your life as walking a path to the goal. The goal must be spiritual; it can’t be physical, no. It is easier to see if we imagine we are walking to some place.
“Imagine we are walking the road across the island. As we take each step, we must give up the hind foot. The hind foot represents the past. We must give it up to walk forward. We are walking-walking. Must we worry because we are not at the goal? No man! We are making progress! We are taking steps! We love where we are at this moment. We love the progress. The goal will come at the right time. We are joyful, man!”
“I still don’t understand,” said JJ.
“As we walk the path, the scenery is just passing. If we fall in love with everything we see, then our heart breaks with each step. We must let it go. This step is good. This step is bad. We just let it go and take the next step.”
“Look at today. I sit here thinking, ‘What can I do now? What can I do with this step?’ I don’t worry about the past—it gone already. I don’t worry about the future—maybe I plan some, but it’s always different, you know. So, should I be angry when the plan changes? I leave it up to God to send me what I need. I work hard. I grow my food and make a little money to buy a new dress or rice. But, each moment I’m grateful for whatever comes. If it’s more, I’m grateful. If it’s less, I’m grateful. If someone smiles, I’m grateful. If the man curses me, I’m grateful. If I’m angry when the man curses me, I ask myself, ‘Where is my mind confused? What does it want so badly that it can’t be happy with what God has given?’”
So that’s my Oni. I hope to you get to enjoy her as much as I do.
Love to all,