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I CONFESS: Ugly side of Bajan society


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BARBADOS IS A beautiful country and a great place to live and work. There are few other places in the world where the people are as friendly and accommodating as there are here. This alone makes it special for me.As a resident, and, later, a citizen for more than 30 years, I consider myself a Bajan. It is a badge I proudly wear whenever I return to my country of birth, and I’m constantly asked what it is that keeps me tied here now that my Bajan husband has passed away and our children are all grown.The truth, and what I also tell my relatives, is that I love living in a country where people recognise me by my car number and would toot their horns at me whenever and wherever they see me.I tell them that Bim is a place where people call and enquire about you when they don’t see or hear you for a few days.I tell them, too, that this is a country where you don’t have to be scared of everybody that you see. Sure there is crime and violence, but it is not to the extent that you have to lock yourself behind chained doors and barricaded windows cowering in fear.Sure, there are things that would improve life here if people tried to get them right – like our level of customer service, being more time conscious, and striving for greater productivity on our jobs. On this score, I am heartened to see people willing to talk about it more, though they are slowly moving to address it.The only thing I do not like here is the way women like to gossip and be judgemental of others. They don’t have to know anything about the situation, yet they form an opinion and come to a conclusion just so. It is really sickening!I was reminded of this one undesirable aspect about Bajans by some of the comments I saw on in response to the article Women Lie And Cheat Too. The comments painfully brought back to me some of the nasty things said about me by other women after my husband had passed. People I called my friends used to call up each other and decide how they should treat me given that I was now single with three children to support. They took this position because they felt I might try to live with or steal their husbands.From this episode in my life I learnt painfully two things about Bajan women: 1; they fear single women, especially those who have good looks and a pleasant personality like mine; and 2; because they know what they would have done or were capable of doing, married women get together to destroy attractive single women’s reputations to make them seem undesirable to their husbands.As this all took place in an upper middle class environment, it told me that no matter what women achieve, they will sink to the lowest depth to protect their interests if they feel threatened.Imagine, I was in mourning and in turmoil over my husband’s sudden illness and death months later, but all those women could see was me leaning on their husbands’ shoulders and eventually bedding one of them.The first thing they said was that I had a man on my husband when he was bed-ridden and that hastened his death. Then they said I was going mad because I was on anti-depressants. But worse than those things, they said my husband died from HIV and not cancer as we said, and I may have it too.I only found out what was being said weeks after when one of my husband’s good friends suggested that going overseas was best for me and the children as we could have a fresh start. When I said I preferred to stay here amongst friends, he told me I had none and revealed what he had been hearing.He not only told me what was being said but who was saying it. Then he laughed and told me that two of the wives behind the talk had affairs on their husbands and named the men they were involved with. Apart from that, some of the husbands were involved at one time or another in extramarital affairs that their wives later found out or suspected.He reasoned that because of all that, those married women were just protecting their interests by smearing me as I was no longer one of them. That’s when I fully understood their motivation and saw the ugly, underside of Bajan culture. I hated it then, and still despise it today. As that man in the article said: “Bajan women need to be told in no uncertain terms that they are selfish, unfriendly and suspicious; they gossip too much and believe everything they hear, even without compelling evidence”.More people need to speak out about this attitude because it is like a cancer eating away at this society, and is doing no one any good.