Caribbean Story Part 2: The Navel String

Updated on April 26, 2018
CaribTales profile image

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)

Names
Roles
Relation to Miranda
Lulu Davis
Pregnant teenager
Mother
Janie Davis
Lulu's mother
Maternal grandmother
Manny Spooner
Becoming a father
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 | Source

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 | Source

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."

*stupse

- 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 | Source

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Dora Weithers

    Comments

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      • CaribTales profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        7 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        8 months ago from london

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

      • profile image

        Sam 

        8 months ago

        The stupse got me laughing. Good one!

      • CaribTales profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        8 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        8 months ago from Central Florida

        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!

      • CaribTales profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        9 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        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.

      • profile image

        William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA 

        9 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        DDE 

        9 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        9 months ago

        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.

        Sincerely,

        Tim

      • profile image

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia 

        9 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Peg Cole from Dallas, Texas 

        9 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Frank Atanacio from Shelton 

        9 months ago

        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

      • profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India 

        9 months ago

        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!

      • profile image

        FlourishAnyway from USA 

        9 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada 

        9 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Nell Rose from England 

        9 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. 

        9 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Kathy Burton from Florida 

        9 months ago

        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.

        Kathy

      • profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee from Riga, Latvia 

        9 months ago

        Fantastic story. Enjoyed.

      • profile image

        Bill Holland from Olympia, WA 

        9 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio 

        9 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Jackie Lynnley from The Beautiful South 

        9 months ago

        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!

      • CaribTales profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • CaribTales profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • Glenis Rix profile image

        GlenR 

        9 months ago from UK

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

      • CaribTales profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        9 months ago from Shelton

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

      • CaribTales profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 

        9 months ago from Ohio

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

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