March 17, 2013 by admin

When I was a little girl being raised in Maroon Town, which is located in the mountains of Jamaica, electricity occassionally visited us. I remember even at the age of 8, spending many hours preparing for the "common entrance," exam, which was an exam taken at 10 years old, administered by the government, and used as a deciding mechanism by high schools for their selective process, for the upcoming entering class. In JA, at that time, high school began around age 10 and you had 3 chances to take the exam and should one fail, another option of schooling was available. This pressure to do well on this test was great as the results were posted in the national newspaper and families, like the morning of an election result, would eagerly await and rush to get the papers at the crack of dawn. One of the many nights when I was studying, the electricity did its disappearing act, and I lit the lantern as usual. Like many late nights before, when my paternal grandma stayed up with me as I pushed through the night studying, I heard the words she always uttered, "the heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, marched on upward through the night." I was sick of hearing that and I was sick of preparing for this exam while other kids outside our cottage endured less. Nevertheless, I passed on the first try, went to Mt. Alvernia High in Montego Bay and left 2 years shy of graduating as I migrated to America at 14. I continued with my studies all the way through law school. Law school wasn't without its challenges. I was told by one of my writing professors that it wasn't personal, but my time would be better spent trying to become a paralegal as opposed to an attorney, especially because "my people," didn't know anything about writing and english and could have only progressed so far. I didn't know which category "my people" fell in as I represented the woman, the immigrant, the underclass and the African American. I went to her for clarification and she clarified that it was in fact the immigrant. Unlike the American Bar Association rule of 20 hrs working weekly, I was doing 40. Work, library and the classroom became my only life. Thereafter, I studied 14 hrs a day, 10 weeks straight in preparation for the NY Bar, the 3rd hardest in the country. On June 20th, 2001, the immigrant took her oath as an attorney before 9 Court of Appeals judges. Surrounded by friends and family, something was still missing. One night, my husband and mom arranged a celebration for me at home. Reggae was pumping, curry goat, oxtail and jerk chicken and laughter filled the year. Then there was silence and I heard the words that had subconsciouly carried me through the years, "the heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companion slept, toiled on upward through the night." I looked around and I saw my grandma, the woman who have stood by me and planted in me a seed of perseverance. Unknown to her, many sleepless night I toiled, she was with me. She doesn't remember me anymore, and as I write this, I do so with great difficulty as I can't hold back the tears. If she could remember, only if she could, I would remind her of our lantern nights and let her know the light that I carry in my heart is always hers? Whose light do you carry?

One comment on “Whose light are you carrying?”

  • its good when we can look back on our childhood and realise, that the things that use to annoy and frustrate us help to our benefit..its called a famous phrase says”when i was a child, i walk, talk and understood as a child until i became a man””..well not literally but you get my drift..i carry the light of my mother..who woke my butt up to pray before going to sleep, who taught me to always work and dream even when people doubt and never to let opinions of others dominate my life..i persevere for her..for me and jus because i can never do any less…so i soldier on

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