“When I was twelve years old, I got a chance to see a real-life Obeyah-woman (a kind of Caribbean witch doctor). My aunt had taken my mother and I, along with some cousins, for the excursion one afternoon as if it were no big deal, like going to the mall or the movies. I remember I was tingling with uncontrollable excitement from head to toe, imagining all sorts of dark magic scenarios. I had heard so many stories from my relatives and parents about the black spells and witchery of Obeyah, but I had never imagined that I would be able to actually witness it for myself.
Once we were at the Obeyah-woman’s house, I became sorely disappointed when the adults went inside to see the Obeyah-woman and us kids were left outside to entertain ourselves. I waited anxiously as afternoon turned into evening dusk. There was no way I was going to let this opportunity pass me by.
After seemingly forever, the door opened and my mother stepped out. I quickly pulled her aside and asked if I too could see this magical woman. I tugged on her arm and I pleaded. Reluctantly, she finally agreed.
I followed her back into the house and up the stairs, brushing past a curtain of wooden beads and sat amongst heavy books at a table. A young woman sat on the other side, a kind smile across her face.
“What would you like to know?” she asked, almost immediately. “You can ask me anything.”
I didn’t let the instant disappointment of our surroundings distract me. The girl was nothing like I had imagined. She didn’t carry a long, crooked nose. Her face and hands weren’t covered in warts. She looked so normal.
I swallowed my disenchantment and asked the only question burning in my twelve-year-old mind. “What will I be when I grow up?”
The Obeyah-woman did not answer my question, instead, she asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I smiled sheepishly, somewhat embarrassed to admit it.
“A writer,” I said.
The Obeyah-woman closed her eyes. “I see a lot of travel in your future, which is very good for a writer,” she said. I felt overwhelmed with hope. She reached out, held my hands, and looked me in the eyes. “If you want to be a writer, you will be a writer.” I left the Obeyah-woman’s house perplexed that day. The open-ended answer was not what I was seeking and the memory of that visit grew to haunt me. For many years after, I took the woman’s words with a grain of salt, thinking the visit was a bust. It wasn’t until I was older that I began to realize the wisdom in her words. Our futures, our dreams, and wishes lie solely in our own hands, and to obtain the answers that we seek, only we can turn them into realities.”
Christina Persaud resides in Maine with her husband and a ferociously sweet Yorkie named Kaiju.