Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Must Not Forget

Most days, I want to think of myself as something pretty special. I want to tell myself that I am truly one-of-a-kind. I want to believe with all my heart that I'm a fighter... a survivor, and that I made it this far because of my hard work and on the raw force of will-power alone.

But other days, like today, I face the truth. I look myself in the mirror and tell myself what a lucky person I am. Because had my parents been any less devoted to my success, had my teachers been any less relentless in their demand for excellence, had the foundations and principles of my life been only a shade different, and had there not been a God, I would not be the person I am today.

Days like today, I remember: I may have seen this much and come this far, but I did NOT do it on my own.

I've spent the last four years living in Kingston: going to school, working, and getting acquainted with urban life. Yesterday, I sat at home in rural St. Mary remembering, for a good long while, how easy it is to forget the people and places that comprise the 17 years that precede the last 4.

Is it really that easy to forget the pride in my father's smile, the warmth in my mother's arms, the loud, cheerful rings in my siblings' laughs? Is it so easy to forget music-filled streets and Miss Mabel's corner shop, and the names of classmates who stayed home to help build their parish, while I was whisked away to urban Jamaica with lofty dreams, in search of something (supposedly) better... in search of something (supposedly) more?

I sat listening to my siblings' jibes. My sister is a woman now. And my brothers have beards, or stubble... How weird that they have lives -whole lives- that I have very little knowledge of. How weird that my parents are growing old. How weird that my teachers and neighbours and classmates have never forgotten my name, or my face, and that, with the extra wrinkles in their tired faces, they smile when they see me, and remind me -again- why I should never give up. Why I should never forget.

I must not forget past classmates carrying babies in their arms: theirs and their little sisters'. I must not forget street vendors missing teeth, the sight of once-firm flesh now sagging, jangling and dangling as they offer passers-by their wares. I must not forget scruffy young men, congregating on street corners, already beggars, drunks and drug addicts... I must not forget that for every step I take, someone gets left behind. That for every rung on the ladder I climb, someone stands on the ground, wistfully looking up or cluelessly gazing around... I must not forget that they toil relentlessly. And I must not forget why: because too many children, by virtue of location alone, are abandoned and forgotten. They're bright. They're smart. They're awesomely talented. But they're oblivious to how much they're being robbed.

They have no access to what this world calls success. No access to urban Jamaica and all the secrets it hoards and hides... They remain where they are: seeds of potential. Undiscovered. Undefined. Unfulfilled.

They look at me and smile. And I think they feel proud. But, really, what's there to be proud of? I am no better than these. I am a daughter of St. Mary soil, just like anybody else. While I am in Kingston trying to realise fairytale dreams, they are at home fighting through the despondence of habitual disempowerment, finding new ways to survive a world that denies them the privilege - nay, the right- to fundamental amenities.

And it's a long road ahead of us. We have a far way to go. But if we ever expect to look in the mirror and feel any sense of accomplishment, it must be because we never forget. It must be because I never forget.

I cannot forget... help me to remember... I must NOT forget.

24 comments:

Ruthibelle said...

Interesting to see how our own thoughts evolve over time...

Kel said...

What a lovely post and so true. We climb this ladder to the dreams we hold in our hearts and often, it is easy to forget how far we've come and how many people have helped us get there. It is also a humbling feeling when we do look back and remember ...
~K

Ruthibelle said...

indeed Kel. This is so true.

Keresa said...

Love it. Makes you sit and think about the things of our past that we forget, whether unconsciously or otherwise.

Again, love it!

Wuthering said...

"...They're awesomely talented. But they're oblivious to how much they're being robbed..."

that statement means so much to me. Never forget Ruthi!! I think you could make a world of difference by not EVER forgetting.

xxx

Ruthibelle said...

@Luce I really hope I don't.
@Keresa I'm glad it had that effect.

Will said...

this is so stirringly asserted ruthi... it is so true... never forget...

so now i ask you this: do you feel like you have a role to play in the development of your people? and what role is that?

it goes beyond remembering where you came from...

i think you will make differences... i feel like you will be a mover and shaker...

Blu Jewel said...

That's fantastic. It's important to know and appreciate where you came from and how you got there.

Love to live; live to love!

Ruthibelle said...

@Will: Of course I feel a(n increasing) sense of responsibility to my country & people, and (by extension) region and world...

@Blu: can't forget yuh roots!

Hybrid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hybrid said...

Wow, Ruthi, great writing as usual. Very thought-provoking. Truth at its core. Thanks for this. These types of passions feed great journalism, and give people a voice they would never have had.

Its Just Me - Daring to Dream said...

wow...thanks for writing that. Powerful.

Stunner said...

Wonderful post Ruthibelle. When we bask in our success at ties, it easy to forget all those who made their contributions to our success along the way. Yes, we must not forget.

Ruthibelle said...

@Rae/It's Just Me: thanx much

@Stunner: yeah. And it's easy to forget

Stephen Bess said...

I tell you what, if we do forget there are certain people who will definitely remind us. :) Nice post. God bless.

Abeni said...

Lovely.It would have been so easy for you to forget but you have a consciousness that means you can't.

Keeta said...

So true. Its good to know that you are appreciative and aware of how fortunate you are about what you have accomplished. Too often persons forget just like you have said. Good looking out Ruthie. The fortunate ones have to give voice to the dienfranchised and disempowered. Thumbs up to you.

Rethabile said...

Here's a string tied around your finger: Do not forget.

Crankyputz said...

Beautiful Post.

Forget not where you've come from, for it will guide you to where you are going.

areyouteeaych said...

I'm late to comment, but after re-reading it for the fifth (or was it sixth time?), I'm just as moved as the first.

Exceptionally well-written Ruthibelle. Applause!

Hapi said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

Jdid said...

I understand and relate so much to this or as I am fond of quoting 'I' destined to live this dream for all my peeps who never made it"

heavylogix said...

Made me cry Ruthibelle and that's my very highest praise but I kinda wish you wouldn't do that.

Ruthibelle said...

lmao@logix. thanx... i guess