This is a tale of love, woe and callous officials in government jobs.
Last Thursday, responding to information received, ANN journeyed to an abandon building in an upscale neighbourhood, fronted by pristine blue seas.
Through the maze of corridors and up flights of stairs were two living symbols of love holding steadfast.
To protect their privacy ANN calls them Mr & Mrs Cupid. They are not married in the traditional sense of church ceremony, certificates and such. Instead, as Mrs Cupid said, “this is who I love, I faithful to him regardless to what, I stick by his side because we made a vow together.” This vow was not something either of them took lightly over the 12 years they’ve been together.
Mr. Cupid, a jack-of-all-trade, was lying prone on his back. To move, to eat and to talk his long time love must help him.
A cousin of Mrs Cupid’s effectively slow poisoned Mr. Cupid, feeding him dosages of “red lavender, florida water, spirit of ether …and this thing they call asifehsa [asafoetida tincture]or something so,” under the guise of spiritual guidance.
This was done supposedly because the ‘spiritualist’ cousin accused Mrs Cupid of having “demons on her” which, according to the cousin, was what caused Mr Cupid to be afflicted with a series of ailments real and imagined. The dosage levels of the substances this ‘spiritualist’ cousin administered, adversely affected Mr Cupid and caused him to be hospitalized.
Just before the cousin started her poisonous regiment of ‘medication’ she evicted Mrs Cupid from the apartment that the couple was sharing on her premises. “We were told by the doctor that if he did drink three more glasses [of the asafoetida tincture] he wudda been a dead man. And this is a thing that they give pitbull dogs to weaken them to deal with them,” Mrs Cupid told ANN exclusively.
“A friend of mine look it up on the net and he said it cause pain, headache and all these things and those are things that he’s experiencing slightly,” an emotional Mrs Cupid relayed. Homeless with her lover hospitalized, she sought solace at church where a male member of the congregation offered her a place to stay.
“But he start saying ‘I mus deh wid he, weh I going wid de dead, [Cupid’s] an invalid and when [Cupid] come outta hospital he don’t want [Cupid] by his place. He want me to sleep with him.
Now I cannot sleep with somebody who I don’t love. This is who I love,” she said while pointing to her common law husband. Originally from Green Hill, Mrs Cupid’s life has been rife with abuse. An experience she suffered from her childhood into her adult child bearing years.
She told ANN “when I was more younger if they [mother and stepfather] have any problems he [stepfather] go tell my sisters dem ‘aye wake up da girl deh way she go outside,’ I go have to sleep under the house, she [mother] go have to hide way piece of food to give me and then eventually she send me Bequia to live. I get abused in Bequia with people …. The lady [on Bequia] who I was living with now – after the neighbour see how she treating me she [the neighbour] give me a likko wuk so like when she people dem send barrels and she give me clothes and money, the lady [guardian on Bequia] would took way the money and the clothes and give it to her stepdaughter.
If the lady [neighbour] ain’t see me in certain clothes an’ she ask an’ I tell she, the lady [guardian] would lock me in the bedroom at night and beat me with tambrand whip, wire and all these things.”
She was eleven years old around this time. Fast forward to her grown up years as a gainfully employed mother, the abuse continued albeit from different hands. “Now the abusement really I get from my ex it push me to a limit that I had was to go to the family court to put his name deh. I was with him for seventeen (17) years – strictly abusement. If somebody tell him deh see me on the road, he don’t ask questions he go come and start to beat me.
If I go in town and I stay too long, couldn’t get van, he go lash me. He go wait until I come and he go ambush me, when I catch myself my whole body in pain – cut up,” Mrs Cupid related with tears in her voice. “I was working with Guardsman, I went by a party a night – it was my co-worker’s party and I told him I going to the party because all co-workers invited. I know I opened the gate and I reached in, by the time I reach in the gate that was it. When I ketch meself the morning, and I had was to go to work fo 6 o’clock the morning, when I ketch meself my skin in pain, cut up; beaten wid wire. He knock me out and left me deh.
Rain come and wet me up [in the yard].” That same morning, her out of character late arrival to work sparked some concerns from her then supervisor who upon seeing the inflicted wounds sprang into action. “Is water them had to throw and wet down me whole back to cut off the vest and the bra off of me,” Cupid told us.
This period of abuse was not only physical but her spouse at the time also exercised control over her monies. “I alone was paying $500 – pay light, pay water – rent is $500; still have to send my son school.” All these household expenses, the former spouse made clear, was hers to deal with even as they shared the same home.
“When I was on the hospital bed to take the surgery – I took out 150 gall stones – he came there for money, from me, to buy school supplies for the boy,” a child they share together. The abuse continued by way of threats long after that relationship ended “ in November garn deh, no September last year, he met me in town and tell me if he can’t get me back he will kill me and still fxxk me.
So I went to the family courts and put in the case but just because he [Mr Cupid] did sick I don’t want to leave him so I didn’t go back for the case.”
Mrs Cupid also told us of her efforts to rectify her housing situation which started long before they took up residence in the mosquito infested abandoned building. She solicited help from successive politicians to secure, at least a small plot of land, on which to construct a dwelling place to no avail. “Ah try til I fed up,” she said of her efforts to impress the urgency of her need, upon the politicians she claimed to have voted for.
“The first representative I know was arhm… I think he dead now from Sharpes, I don’t remember his name anuh. Ah think he dead or he blind, something so.
I try he, which I did vote for him… he was on Labour side. Second one, Elvis Charles – he tell me do ah estimate. Ah didn’t get no lan’ as yet be he tell me do ah estimate cause ah did full out ah form for Agriculture for a piece of land. Up to now, he mus’ be some Minister of something else, I ain’t get chu. Ah full out again for another representative, nothing.” Her search continued with discussions held with a Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Surveys official she named as Mr. Murray.
“I tell Murray all sort ah things. I say ‘Murray I am homeless. Where I was staying the people an’ dem want they place. I need help just help me with piece of land.’ Up to now nothing, nothing. Everybody else is getting help, nothing.
He telling me no lan’ deh; the same lan’ he tellin’ me none ain’ deh, he give a girl – she house bun down an’ he tek it back from ah rasta guy he did give and put in the girl next to my sister.” Homeless but not witless Mrs Cupid who has quite the job experience resume, even as a primary school dropout, has also struggled within recent years to be gainfully employed. “I applied for so many jobs. I have ah application I full out by the Sultan Restaurant, I full out one foo the Guest House going up Girls’ High School up deh…
I wanted to apply for a security job but ah say no because ah almost lost me life with the security thing. A guy try to rape me.” Mrs Cupid recounted a harrowing tale of being held at knife point by a man who was demanding sexual pleasures from her at a site she was assigned to secure one late evening in 2008. Luckily her preference of an ice pick instead of the issued baton saved her from what could have been a brutal rape and possible murder.
“He start bucklin’ down my clothes but I usually use a vest underneath and a tights under my pants, so when he using his hand to buckle out an’ ha de knife by my throat I eventually stab him in his neck with the ice pick and then he ran and I call the police…” Police apprehended the assailant at the Accident and Emergency department of the Kingstown hospital.
This same ice pick would factor greatly as she sat contemplating suicide on the morning of this interview. “To be honest I was going to kill myself this morning with an ice pick,” the frustrated woman said as she recalled the callousness with which a social worker treated her case as recently as that same day.
Thankfully Gary James, a young Samaritan who hails from Greiggs, has been their one man support system since they were forced to move into the abandoned beachfront building, a place they used to camp out in happier times. James was the person who brought their plight to the attention of local Social Services.
At his initial contact with the department he was guided to the person in charge of the East St. George District.
James, who knows Mr Cupid for quite some time, went looking for him after chatting with Mrs Cupid and hearing that they were staying at the abandoned property.
Upon seeing Mr Cupid’s helpless condition he called the police who then immediately ordered an ambulance to remove Mr Cupid.
At approximately 11:30 that same night Mr. Cupid, too weak to walk, was discharged from the hospital. The following morning it was James, himself a dad in waiting, who financed their taxi fare so that they could travel back to the abandoned property that was their only housing option, located a ways off the passenger van route.
Running through his list of options, he then interceded on the Cupid’s behalf and showed the Social Worker video footage of their situation. That video motivated the Social Worker to visit the location in person. She is reported to have shared her disbelief that “people ah live like that.”
That was Monday. On Tuesday the Social Worker invited James back to Kingstown to “check out a place to rent” for the Cupids.
James recounted the subsequent search for housing, the idea being that the government would foot the rental bill. Motivated by this promise as advanced by the Social Worker, James traversed from Belair to Sharpes and back to Green Hill even over to Kingstown Park, in his search of better housing for his friends. On Wednesday, James said, “I carry she [the Social Worker] to a lady and the lady said she have a place up in Belair but it will cost $550 – ah think is $550 or $500 – per month but the place don’t have water or light.
[The Social Worker] say like this ‘I don’t think Government go want to pay that’.” James, in his interview, described how he continued to petition the Social Worker with a reminder that “way they deh, them ain’t get no water or no light but it [would be] somewhere where they could get to sleep properly.” To this, James said, the Social Worker’s response was to encourage him to keep looking. His further search turned up another potential location in Calliaqua.
The prospective landlord had one stipulation. A letter must be sent to assure him that the tenants would be relocated within a four month period. This was due to pending renovations to the property, James explained. On Thursday, James continued to explain, he returned to the Social Welfare department with word of the potential solution and the attached condition.
To this the Social Worker replied “I ain’t going to write that letter because me ain’t going to put myself in nothing,” according to James.
The Social Worker is said to have also added to that response “don’t study them people deh. Take your money and buy pampers for your pickney.” This callous response propelled James, who was also providing the Cupid’s food out of pocket, to reach out to ANN.
In happier times Mrs Cupid, a self starter, would cook, crochet and craft handmade jewellery from sea corals and turtle shells “I pick up a lot of those. Varnish them, spray them in different colours and sell them…
I just need somewhere to settle in so I can cook and get a job so I can handle meself properly.”