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Teeth and Tongue must Meet!

Susan was suddenly awakened from her Saturday afternoon nap by a continuous banging on the front door. She wanted to ignore the knocking, but the pounding was getting louder and, even more, persistent. She sat up tiredly on the queen size bed and tried to steady her shaking feet as she got up.

The past week was a very stressful one indeed. The baby was sick with the flu virus then he passed it on to each member of the family including herself. She was now advanced in pregnancy and having the flu with her already sluggish state was no picnic.

Thank God the children were now feeling much better, and so her husband decided to take them to the park for a breath of fresh air and to allow her to get some rest. Yes! In spite of their turbulent marriage, he had his moments when he was considerate for her feelings. Today was one of those days. “Bang bang…” another heavy banging shook her from her daydream. She quickly slipped on her slippers and shouted. “I am coming.”

Only one person could be knocking so persistently, and that was Aunt May. “Open the door Suzy I know you are inside,” Aunt May shouted from the front porch.

Susan sighed. She was not in the mood for aunt Maye’s company today. Somehow she suspected the reason for her presence. She pulled opened the door, and Aunt May quickly pulled her into a tight embrace. The smell of earth and spice assailed Susan’s nostrils, but it was a warm and pleasant smell, and Suzy enjoyed the comfort of it.

“What are you doing here so early in the day Aunt, Maye? Is market over?” Suzy asked her as she ushered her into the living room and gave her a chair. Aunt Maye was a stout, strong lady in her late sixties but if you did not know her age you could not tell. She did not look a day older than forty. Her round face was shiny with sweat, so Suzan quickly gave her a towel while taking the heavy market bag from her arms.

“That is for you, Suzy,” Aunt Maye informed her. Suzy peeked inside the bag, and it was filled with ground provision – yam, bananas, potatoes, pumpkin, plantains, onions, scallion, ackee, breadfruit and even a jelly coconut.

“Thank you so much, Aunty. How do you know I needed that food?” Susan gratefully hugged her aunt again. Her kitchen was bare because money was small as it was the middle of the month. Payday was approximately two weeks away.

Aunt Maye lived in hills off Manchester. She had a couple of acres of land that she farmed and raised pigs. Every Saturday morning she took her provisions to the market in downtown Kingston to sell.

Several others usually accompanied her from the village travelling with their goods on the market trucks. It was a difficult life, but they seemed to enjoy it and looked forward to the same routine every week. It was only four in the afternoon, and Suzy knew that they usually left for home at six o’clock.

Down Town Market - Image by Jamaica Gleaner

Down Town Market – Image by Jamaica Gleaner

“So what brought you here so early aunt?” Suzy repeated her question. Her aunt was now fanning herself with the towel. The afternoon was steaming hot, and the overhead fan in the living room only stirred up the hot air from the concrete ceiling. They need an AC, but they could only dream about it for now.

Before her aunt could reply Suzy quickly went into the kitchen to pour her aunt a huge glass of fresh lemonade from her newly bought refrigerator. As she pressed the lever to receive the small chunks of ice in the glass she smiled proudly to herself.

She remembered the commotion that the fridge had cost, but it was all worth it. The huge fridge dominated the small kitchen, but the beauty of the stainless steel gave it a luxurious look.

“Awe mi dear child town is hot, hot!” Aunt Maye shook her head and sighed as she took the glass from Suzy’s outstretched hands and began to sip the cold liquid. Suzy knew that ‘hot’ did not mean the weather but the temperament of the people “Some trouble was brewing so we decided to call it a day!”

“What kind of trouble?” Suzy asked concerned.

“Oh, the usual!” Aunt Maye waved her arm in the air as if to blow away the problem. “Forget them. I did not take a taxi to come all this way to Red Hills to tell you about trouble in town. I came because I heard that you are having marital problems.”

Suzy was startled by her last remark, so she quickly sat down on the nearby sofa. “What trouble aunty.” Suzy laughed nervously. “Mark and I are having only a little argument now and then.” Her face felt hot with annoyance and embarrassment. She did not have to guess who the informer was.

Every time that they had a quarrel, her husband would call her parents, aunt, cousins, sisters and everyone connected to her to complain about her indiscretions. She was a very private person and hated when everyone seemed to know her business. She pursed her lip tightly she was going to let him have it when he returned home!

“You sure it is only arguments, Suzy? He’s not hitting you. Is he?” Aunt Maye queried.

“No, no!” Suzy answered quickly. That was true at least.  In spite of their heated exchange, he never lifts a finger to hit her.

“Well if it is the only argument then that is nothing. You know what they say in the country ‘teeth, and tongue must meet.’ If ‘yuh want good yuh nose afi run’ so you just have to ‘stand on crooked and cut straight’ and ‘tuff it out’ until better come.”  Aunt Maye quickly finished her lemonade and handed the empty glass back to Suzy. She sat back contentedly in her chair.

“Oh, Aunt don’t bother with those silly old time sayings. They don’t mean a thing, and I don’t believe in them anyway.” Susan stared silently into the distance. She knew exactly what else was going to proceed from her aunt’s mouth, and she was preparing herself to block them from her mind.

“You know you young people don’t like when old people give you advice, but you will soon find out! ‘Young bud nuh know storm!” Aunt May continues her lecture on the stubbornness of the young people and the instability of the modern family. By this time, Suzy’s mind was far away.

She did not know why Aunt Maye believed that she was qualified to give marriage counselling. Was it because she was married three times? But each of her husbands was dead. She outlived them all. Was it because of her domineering temperament or was she just bad luck. Suzy knew that she and her husband needed counseling but from a professional. Not Aunt Maye.

How can their marriage survive if every time they have a problem the entire community has to know about it? Where was the confidentiality? Should her husband gossip about their marital problems?

They seemed to argue about every silly little thing. Is this a normal part of marriage? Teeth and tongue must meet indeed! Anytime teeth meet with the tongue it will cause pain. And they are indeed reaping the reward of all the clashing.

Suzy read many books and articles on the internet on marriages. Many of them claimed that conflict is a natural part of a relationship. Is it really? Is there anything positive about conflict? There must be a better and happier life for them. “Lord I need help!” Suzy shouted aloud.

Suzy and Mark are young married couples in their early thirties who are experiencing a tremendous crisis in their marriage. How can we help Suzy see what God said about obtaining peace, love and unity in marriage? Your input is welcome.

If the birds can find true love and happiness why can’t humans find it in each other.


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