Pearline McKenzie, London, UK 

Pearline McKenzie, London, UK 

Homage to the Mothers

My mother’s grandparents were Hindu’s, they were brave and poor enough to have travelled from Gorakhpur, North India, across the seas from Calcutta to the Caribbean island of Jamaica, in order to seek their fortune as indentured servants.  After indentureship, both my great-grandfather and grandfather had been in retail businesses, and had large families to support. 

Sitabia Anderson, Jamaica

Sitabia Anderson, Jamaica

Elizabeth Brown, Kingston, Jamaica

Elizabeth Brown, Kingston, Jamaica

My mother Pearline, like me, had also been the eldest daughter of her family, with all the weight of responsibility it takes to be the first born of ten children, bearing down on her until the day she died in London in 2012. 

I remember that as I grew up, Mum always referred to the elusive figure of my grandmother, whom at that point we had never met, as "mama". Whenever the subject of "back-home" or her childhood would arise, "mama" was a significant figure. Like her "mama", my mum was born in Jamaica and held a profound pride for both her Jamaican and Indian heritage. I was also thrilled to discover on my relentless questioning, Mum's stories about my Great-grandmother Sitabia "a proper Indian, with long skirts".