There are two spelling systems used for the Jamaican language below. The first, which I call ‘chaka-chaka’, is based on English spelling. The second, ‘prapa-prapa’, is the specialist phonetic system designed by the linguist Frederic Cassidy. It has been slightly amended by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.
But tings an times change. Inna dis ya time, an a long time now, a no ongle hoe a look fi dem stick; an stick a look fi dem hoe. Stick a look fi stick; an hoe a look fi hoe. An some stick an hoe a look fi stick, hoe, front-end loader, backhoe, all kind a farm tool fi do di work, wid hand an machine!
A no no problem fi me if di stick an di hoe dem join up ascorden to fi dem preference. Mi no business. A fi dem business. Di big problem a when di stick an di hoe hitch on pon one anodder an dem no match. Last week Sunday, mi get one distressful email from one woman. Mek mi call her Precious. She did have one boyfriend fi 14 year. An she come fi find out seh im dida stick on pon one next man. She never know seh fi im stick never waahn no hoe.
Mi feel it fi her. Precious seh when she read di column, ”Straight’ Wives At Risk’, a di first time she bawl since April 10 when she mek up her mind fi lef di man. She seh, “I cried because you put into words what it feels like to know in the gut that he is on the down-low, but his logic, rhyme and reason play down every instinctive intuition I had.”
Pon top a dat, even though Precious did suspect di man, she never decide her mind fi go do no HIV test. She fraid. She never waahn know seh she ketch anything from im. Yu see, dat a one a di big problem wid di low-down down-low man dem. If yu no careful, dem wi carry yu down wid dem. Yu gone under cover an yu fraid fi deal wid reality.
Anyhow, mi tell Precious fi bawl. Dat wi help wash off her heart. But so-so bawling not enough. Mi warn her seh she ha fi go do HIV test. An a no it one. A nuff more: herpes (1 & 2), hepatitis (B & C), gonorrhoea an syphilis. If yu tink bout all a di disease dem yu can ketch from sex – straight or bend up, wid or widout condom – yu mighta no bodder at all, at all.
Then, mi put Precious in touch wid Debbie Thomas-Brown from the South Florida Connects support group. Ongle to discover, Precious did done find di website. She dida look fi help. By di way, mi hope some a unu did hear Debbie pon Rev Clinton Chisholm ‘Morning Watch’ radio programme pon Love FM Thursday gone. She good can’t done. An she a come on back 7 c’clock tomorrow morning. Mi a encourage Debbie fi come a Jamaica fi gi one workshop fi straight spouse. Mi a go help her look sponsor. If any a oonu have any contact, oonu can email me.
Later down inna di week, mi get one lovely email from Precious. She go down a Comprehensive Health Centre pon Slipe Road an do di HIV test. God be praised, it negative. An she a go back go do di rest a di test dem. Mi a hope an pray di whole a dem come out negative.
An mi a wonder bout all a di odder Precious dem out deh, weh know from di bottom a yu heart seh yu man naa play straight. Yu fi follow backa Precious an lef di man pon di down-low. An lift up back yuself. Ongle yu can free yuself from mental slavery.
A so uol-taim piipl se. An a no suo-so faam wok dem dida taak bout. A man an uman bizniz. Evribadi av fi dem uona mach. Uo an stik wi fain dem wan anada.
Bot tingz an taimz chienj. Ina dis ya taim, an a lang taim nou, a no ongl uo a luk fi dem stik; an stik a luk fi dem uo. Stik a luk fi stik; an uo a luk fi uo. An som stik an uo a luk fi stik, uo, front-en luoda, bakuo, aal kain a faam tuul fi du di wok, wid an ahn mashiin!
A no no prablem fi mi if di stik an di uo dem jain op azkaadn tu fi dem prefrans. Mi no bizniz. A fi dem bizniz. Di big prablem a wen di stik an di uo ich aan pan wan anada an dem no mach. Laas wiik Sonde, mi get wan dischresful iimiel fram wan uman. Mek mi kaal ar Precious. Shi did av wan bwaifren fi fuortiin ier. An shi kom fi fain out se im dida stik aan pan wan neks man. Shi neva nuo se fi im stik neva waahn no uo.
Mi fiil it fi ar. Precious se wen shi riid di kalom, ‘Straight’ Wives At Risk’, a di fos taim shi baal sins Iepril 10 wen shi mek op ar main fi lef di man. Shi se, “I cried because you put into words what it feels like to know in the gut that he is on the down-low, but his logic, rhyme and reason play down every instinctive intuition I had.”
Pan tap a dat, iivn duo Precious did sospek di man, shi neva disaid ar main fi go du no HIV tes. Shi fried. Shi neva waahn nuo se shi kech enting fram im. Yu si, dat a wan a di big prablem wid di luo-dong, dong-luo man dem. If yu no kierful, dem wi kyari yu dong wid dem. Yu gaan aanda kova an yu fried fi diil wid riiyaliti.
Eniou, mi tel Precious fi baal. Dat wi elp wash aaf ar aat. Bot suo-so baalin nat enof. Mi waan ar se shi ha fi go du HIV tes. An a no it wan. A nof more: erpiiz (1 & 2), epataitis (B & C), gonariiya an sifilis. If yu tingk bout aal a di diziiz dem yu kyan kech fram seks – schriet ar ben op, wid ar widout kandom – yu maita no bada at aal, at aal.
Den, mi put Precious in toch wid Debbie Thomas-Brown fram di South Florida Connects sopuort gruup. Ongl tu diskova, Precious did don fain di websait. She dida luk fi elp. Bai di wie, mi uop som a unu did ier Debbie pan Rev Clinton Chisholm ‘Morning Watch’ riedyo pruogram pan Love FM Torzde gaan. Shi gud kyaahn don. An shi a kom aan bak 7 aklak tumara maanin. Mi a enkorij Debbie fi kom a Jamieka fi gi wan wokshap fi schriet spous. Mi a go elp ar luk spansa. If eni a unu av eni kantak, unu kyahn iimiel mi.
Lieta dong ina di wiik, mi get wan lovli iimiel fram Precious. Shi go dong a Comprehensive Health Centre pan Slipe Road an du di HIV tes. Gad bi priez, it negitiv. An shi a go bak go du di res a di tes dem. Mi a uop an prie di uol a dem kom out negitiv. An mi a wanda bout aal a di ada Precious dem out de, we nuo fram di batam a yu aat se yu man naa plie schriet. Yu fi fala baka Precious an lef di man pan di dong-luo. An lif op bak yuself. Ongl yu kyahn frii yuself fram mental slievri.
That’s what the old folks said. And they weren’t talking about just farming. It was sex as well. Everybody has a soul mate. Hoes and sticks will find their fit. But things and times do change. These days, and it’s quite some time now, it’s not only hoes that are looking for their sticks; and sticks looking for their hoes. Sticks are looking for sticks; and hoes are looking for hoes. And some sticks and hoes are looking for sticks, hoes, front-end loaders, backhoes, all kinds of farm tools for manual and mechanical work!
It’s not a problem for me if sticks and hoes connect however they choose. That’s not my business. It’s theirs. The big problem is if the sticks and hoes get stuck and they’re not compatible. Last Sunday, I got a distressing email from a woman. Let’s call her Precious. She’s had a boyfriend for all of fourteen years. And she’s just discovered that he’s gay. She didn’t know he wasn’t into women.
I felt her pain. Precious said when she read the column, “‘Straight’ Wives At Risk”, it was the first time she cried since April 10 when she made up her mind to leave the man. She said, “I cried because you put into words what it feels like to know in the gut that he is on the down-low, but his logic, rhyme and reason play down every instinctive intuition I had”.
And even though Precious did have her suspicions about the man, she couldn’t bring herself to do an HIV test. She was scared. She didn’t want to know if she’d been infected by her partner. That’s one of the big problems with low-down, down-low men. If you’re not careful, they will carry you down with them. You go under cover and you’re afraid to deal with reality.
Anyhow, I told Precious she should cry. It’s therapeutic. But crying isn’t enough. I advised her to get tested. And not just the HIV test. There are many more: herpes (1 & 2), hepatitis (B & C), gonorrhea and syphillis. If you were to think about all the sexual diseases you can contract – doing it straight or bent, with or without a condom – you probably wouldn’t bother at all.
Then, I put Precious in touch with Debbie Thomas-Brown from the South Florida Connects support group. Believe it or not, Precious had already found the website. She’d been looking for help. By the way, I hope some of you caught Debbie on Rev. Clinton Chisholm’s “Morning Watch” radio programme on Love FM last Thursday. She was excellent. And she’ll be coming on again at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning. I’m encouraging Debbie to come to Jamaica to do a workshop for straight spouses. I’m going to help her find sponsorship. If any of you have contacts, you can email me.
Later in the week, I got a lovely email from Precious. She went to the Comprehensive Health Centre on Slipe Rd. and did the HIV test. God be praised, it was negative. And she’s going back to do all of the other tests. I’m hoping and praying they’ll all be negative. And I keep wondering about all of the other women who know in your heart of hearts that your man isn’t playing it straight. You should follow Precious’ example and leave the man on the down-low. And lift yourself back up. Only you can free yourself from mental slavery.