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Caribbean Story Part 2: The Navel String

Caribbean Story shares memories of a Caribbean writer, including bits on parenting and other lifestyle aspects influenced by the culture.

Main Characters (Along with Miranda Davis)

NamesRolesRelation to Miranda

Lulu Davis

Pregnant teenager


Janie Davis

Lulu's mother

Maternal grandmother

Manny Spooner

Becoming a father


Mattie DavisSpooner

Manny's mother

Paternal grandmother

Caribbean Story features the nurture and influence of Miranda Davis' grand-mothers. Part 1 introduced Lulu's pregnancy and Janie's declaration that there was no room for a baby. Fast forward in Part 2 to Miranda's return home after many years abroad. She recalls conversations with her mother and grandmothers about what transpired before she was born.

Going Home

Photo by Venkat Mangudi

Photo by Venkat Mangudi

The Return

Caribbean folks credit the pull of their navel string (umbilical cord), usually buried near their place of birth, when they have a strong urge to return home. The beautiful light-brown, fifty-year old Miranda believed that a supernatural force beckoned her back to Seaside Village. It had to be more than the mysterious peace that surrounded her when she visited the graves of her mother and grandmothers.

The Sealy Posturepedic on which she lay was a far cry from the contraption which her mother and grandmother called their bed. She could toss from side to side on a level surface. She could look up at the clean white ceiling and see that there were no centipedes waiting to fall. She only had to stretch her hand out to the lamp on the nightstand and turn on the light. There were symbols of comfort all over the room, comforts to which she had become accustomed.

Amid the sound of traffic in the rebuilt Seaside Village, Miranda heard the quiet of the past. Through the window came the cool night breeze bathing her body, the scent of the lemon grass clearing her mind and a shower of contentment flooding her soul. She closed her eyes and the sound of the crickets chirping faded into the tender voice of her nurturers sharing some memories of what transpired before she was born.

Granny Janie's Idea

Leaving home at seventeen when she became pregnant with Miranda was not a consideration for the slender, average height, serious face Lulu. She was an industrious homebody, who talked little but was trustworthy with her siblings. Her mother Janie needed her to help keep fourteen-year old sister Josie and twelve-year old brother Henry in line. Her siblings found new freedom when she went to work in the sugar cane fields because they no longer had a house police to monitor them after school. Still, when she was present, she was the best asset to discipline in the house.

Female Workers in the Sugar Cane Field

Photo by Berit from Redhill/Surrey, UK

Photo by Berit from Redhill/Surrey, UK

Grandma Mattie's Story

Mattie Spooner hurried outside the church as soon as they said the last amen. She wanted to catch up with Janie.

“What a sermon, eh Miss Janie! I can't go home from church before talking to you.” Mattie approached Janie and hugged her as she talked.

“I was thinking that you couldn't come to church before talking to me.” Janie smiled. “Since Monday you promised to get back to me.”

Just then Daisy Morton, the corner store grocer walked by. After three hours in church, the scent of her orange-fragranced perfume was still strong. “Hey Miss Janie! Lulu missing today again? She still under de weather? Is she okay?”

“You done say it Miss Daisy. She still under the weather.”

Mattie *stupsed. “Don’t say too much to her, you know. What she don't know ain't happen yet, and what she know, everybody else know."


- the action of sucking air through pursed lips...It is an action often used in populations of African and Caribbean descent to indicate that something is annoying, irritating, or a bother. It may be a reaction to an action or comment, particularly an unwanted or unwelcome action or comment. - Bajan Mike

Lulu looked directly at Mattie. “So what is the story? What did Manny say?”

“I asked him if he was the father. He didn’t say yes, and he didn’t say no, but he begged me to give Lulu whatever she ask for. That’s enough for me Miss Janie. I'm not stupid. My grandchild will get whatever I have."

“So when Manny coming to look for Lulu?” Janie quizzed.

“He tell that she don't talk to him. She don’t really talk to me either, so it’s just you and me for now.”

“Not you and me. The pastor said that we should help people bear they burden; he didn’t say that we have to take the burden from them."

Mother Lulu's Hope

Lulu was three months pregnant when she decided to begin prenatal care. The night before her first clinic day, Janie broke the news to her younger daughter and son that their big sister was expecting. They already knew. Josie said that some of her friends also knew. Lulu felt a little relief when the conversation was over.

Navel String on a Three-Month Old Fetus

Credit: IL_Admin

Credit: IL_Admin

The Public Health Nurse asked about her living arrangements to see if her family was eligible for a move which was being organized by the Worker’s League. They had been elected on their campaign promise to improve housing for the sugar estate workers, and they intended to prove themselves credible starting the next year (1947) when the baby was due. Social workers were scheduled to visit village residents to determine who would comprise the first batch to move out of the thatched houses into government-owned prefabricated buildings. She promised to submit Lulu’s household, but warned her not to get her hopes up.

Still, both Lulu and Janie hope. Janie began to sing when she heard the news. She even promised Lulu that after the other clinic days, she could stay at home and not bother to come to the fields afterwards, as she had done that day. Lulu felt deserving because if they got selected to move, she could be responsible for the family's good fortune.

However, "Don't get your hopes up," seemed to fit the rhythm of the barking dog from the yard next door.

More Where Those Came From

The sound of the crickets surfaced again like a surround sound. Miranda slipped away from the mood of uncertainty in the past to the joy of contentment in the present. There were more memories where those came from. The following day, and on many other future days, she would walk a quarter mile to where her navel string was buried and recall other stories she had been told.

© 2018 Dora Weithers


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 22, 2020:

Cynthia, thanks for sharing that "stupse" incident with your doctor. It made me smile, and also glad that I helped to lessen the negative feeling. So much we do not know about each other's cultural habits.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on July 14, 2020:

Ms. Dora,

I love all the details in your story-- the way you build in the current situation embedded in the history of this family.

I also appreciated a definition of "stupse". My doctor is from Africa. The last time I saw him I tried to slip in one last "issue" which was a rash on my chest. He is a busy guy and "stupsed" when i gave him a quick peak at the rash. Your definition takes some of the shame out of his response (that I am going to think of as his being under a lot of stress).

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 26, 2020:

Thanks, Jack. Your comment is so encouraging. You made me smile.

Jack Shorebird from Central Florida, US on April 26, 2020:

Maybe, I've commented before, but I find the first parts like fine wine, to sip slowly. Think, imagine. Then the latter parts, the hook to keep me wanting...

Sad...I know it will end...

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 25, 2018:

Thanks, Manatita. They young man reveals more of himself and his attitude toward the baby later on.

manatita44 from london on March 24, 2018:

Told in a Caribbean way. The young man didn't own up to the child, eh? A touch of superstition added in. Nice!

Sam on March 09, 2018:

The stupse got me laughing. Good one!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 02, 2018:

Thanks, Shauna. Continuing to write for supportive readers like you. You encourage me.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 01, 2018:

Dora, congratulations on your new corner dedicated to story-telling!

I was pleased to see you've continued with Miranda's story. Your talent really shines through in this genre. I love that you write your dialect in the form it's spoken, rather than grammatically correct. It makes for a genuine recount that really grabs this reader.

I look forward to more in this series, Dora!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 21, 2018:

Thanks, Mary. I ha embraced this challenge and am beginning to enjoy it, hoping that cherished readers like you always will.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 21, 2018:

I can't wait to read the next part as I have not followed this after the first one. It is interesting to know a story based on an area I am not familiar with.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on February 17, 2018:

Hi, Dora. Not only is the story grabbing and meaningful, but educational, too. Thanks for putting up the definition of the word stupse. I love the sound of crickets, especially in surround sound. I can't wait to see where the next installment goes.

DDE on February 17, 2018:

I learned something new from this hub. This installment sounds interesting and most gripping. I hope you continue to the third one. As far as I am concerned you know how to keep your readers reading on.

Tim Truzy on February 17, 2018:

Ms. Dora,

Wonderful details. I can't wait to see what happens next. I like the way this story is unfolding. These characters are realistic and almost tangible.

Thanks again for sharing your gift with story telling.



Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on February 17, 2018:

This is an interesting story and I'd like to hear more. Thank you for creating it.

Peg Cole from Dallas, Texas on February 17, 2018:

You are truly a born storyteller, MsDora. I love this second installment of your Caribbean Story. And I learned a new word!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 17, 2018:

MsDora, you're like that pack of cigarettes' logo.. you come a long way baby.. I like the emotional escape this story brings and like Flourish stated I'm waiting for more.. so keep pulling me inn

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018:

You have kept the interest intact. I liked it that you introduced the characters in the opening paragraph. It will help those, who missed the earlier chapter.

Thanks for sharing!

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 17, 2018:

You have me hooked and definitely wanting to read more. I like your writing style.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 17, 2018:

This is an interesting story, Dora. I'm sure that I'm going to enjoy following the tale of your characters and their lives.

Nell Rose from England on February 17, 2018:

Great story Dora, and like the other comments I learned something new, Stupse!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 17, 2018:

My wife always just assumes that Jesus will provide like we hope Lulu will, unless He has a better plan.

I do Stupes. Comes from years of breathing meditation. It seems to me that when the boys were arguing about who would sit next to Jesus He did some stupes. Sighs and stupes fill us with hope.

Thank you so much for piece it sets a tone for the rest of my day.

Kathy Burton from Florida on February 17, 2018:

I love how your ending circled back to the beginning and I too learned a new word. Thanks for including the definition too. It was a great read.


Gypsy Rose Lee from Riga, Latvia on February 17, 2018:

Fantastic story. Enjoyed.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 17, 2018:

That was a fun read, and I learned a new word. Loved it!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on February 17, 2018:

Great storytelling here, Ms. Dora, for this historical fiction. I never heard of stupsed before, but thanks for sharing the meaning for it. Great work.

Jackie Lynnley from The Beautiful South on February 17, 2018:

I am familiar with that "stupse" sound Dora! Hope I can remember that word. Will have to come back to reread and refresh my memory.

Great story telling and I will certainly keep up with it!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 17, 2018:

Caribbean Story Part 2 was previously posted on another page, and following (upward) are the original comments.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 17, 2018:

Thanks, GlenR. Planning to keep you interested and to share more of the Caribbean culture from the 1940s onward.

Glen Rix from UK on February 16, 2018:

Very entertaining, Dora. It’s fascinating to read about different cultures, especially when well-written.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 16, 2018:

Frank, trying hard to attain to your level. I've been learning from you. Thanks for your example and encouragement.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 16, 2018:

MsDora, this part again was richly imagined and outstanding piece of writing...

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 15, 2018:

Thanks Kari. Life for these people is improving, but still far different from yours. Glad you are enjoying the story.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on February 14, 2018:

It is very interesting to me to see how others live. I'm enjoying this story. :)

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