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SECRETS’ CORNER: Cousins in love


rhondathompson, [email protected]

SECRETS’ CORNER: Cousins in love

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by Sanka Price
. . .The years went by, the boy wished he was dead,
He found seventeen girls and still wasn’t wed.
He went to his papa, his papa said “no,
Those girls are all your sisters, but your mama don’t know.
“Woh is me, shame and scandal in the family,
Woh is me, shame and scandal in the family.
“He went to his mama and cover his head,
He told his mama what his papa had said.
His mama she laughed, and said “Go man go,
Your daddy ain’t your daddy, but your daddy don’t know.
– Shame And Scandal  written by Lord Melody and Sir Lancelot.
 
MUSIC, LIKE ART, reflects life – whether it is good, bad or ugly.
An ugly aspect of Caribbean life that has been chronicled over the years through calypsos is the level of infidelity in our society, which led to people not being aware who their relatives were.
This week’s question relates to this. It is this: An elderly relative has returned from overseas and in discussion with you and your partner revealed that the two of you are really first cousins, and challenges of sickle cell run in your family. How should you handle this information since you and your partner would like to get married and start a family?
Everyone who commented via telephone or email said this couple should break off their romance as they were too closely related. They reinforced their views by referring to the prospect of any child from the union being susceptible to the debilitating sickle cell disease.
“Sex between first cousins is like incest. They are too closely related and should break off their relationship,” said one woman.
Another woman said she was not too bothered by the close relationship between the couple, but felt they should split up because the sickle cell trait that runs in their family was a serious thing.
A sickle cell sufferer herself, the caller pointed out that it was a painful disease that she would wish  only on an enemy. She said that though she loved children, she had refused to get any because she would never want to put her child through that agony.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects people’s red blood cells. Sometimes these red blood cells become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels. When this occurs, small blood vessels are blocked. Tissue that does not receive a normal blood flow eventually becomes damaged, and this is why “sicklers” usually suffer with chronic pain. Presently there is no universal cure for sickle cell disease.
Given the aforementioned, it is understandable that people would suggest that this couple should split up. But how realistic is that? When two people genuinely love each other they just can’t stop having these feelings for one another. After all, one’s emotions are not on a tap to be turned on and off on a whim.
Though I am not advocating it, relationships between such closely related people are, not uncommonly, entered into by those who are unaware of their blood connection and they often marry and live happily ever after too.
But as they now know of their close family ties, they need to discuss this issue and decide what they should do. No one else can make this decision for them because they alone will suffer the emotional pain of any separation.
Likewise, it is only the particular couple who can decide if they will have children, given the risks of sickle cell. Clearly, to bring a child into this world to suffer such pain to satisfy their parental desires would be selfish. But again, that decision, as unwise as we may consider it to be, is solely up to them.
The following are edited versions of comments:
• “I am sure that they have already slept together. If I were in that situation, I would have to call off the relationship because there is no way that I would knowingly continue a relationship with my first cousin. It is very important to know your family so that you can avoid these types of situations. The good thing is that they don’t have any kids together.”
• “First cousins are considered too close of blood relations to reproduce . . . . If I were in their shoes, I would first set out to prove if we are really first cousins. If it turns out to be so, then the relationship should be severed. If they decide to go ahead and have children, they should have blood tests to [detect] any illnesses that may develop as a result of the union.”

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