“Jamaican women,” he’d told her, “are the most beautiful in the world, and I can always spot them—at any distance.” It was for him a matter of nationalistic pride.
Anaya met the famous writer seven years earlier during Carnival in Trinidad. Her modeling agency had hired her out to a rum company. Her job was to be beautiful, to smile, and to hand out drinks to dignitaries and specially invited guests. The Poet was there at the behest of the Trinidadian president. She imagined that—in her hot pink bikini covered with crystals, a cerulean carnival headdress with rhinestones and feathers dripping down her back—she looked like the waves of the Island that tied them together.
She knew Jamaica. She knew Jamaicans. She was them, and she was also not them. It hadn’t been the first time she’d heard the line about Jamaican women. Their bodies were—her body was—a conquest of Empire. Her dark skin and aquiline nose, her inky hair running down her back yet kinky at the roots: all testified to a history of violence, of subjugation. Of not consenting.
She knew these things. So how could she have been reeled in with a tired line like that? Wasn’t everything in her DNA recoiling from him, telling her that he and his pale skin—ruddied by too much sun, nearly matching the pale, pink guayabera he wore—represented the last vestiges of Empire she couldn’t escape?
To read the rest of this story, please purchase a print copy of Story #4, Spring 2019