“When I was twelve years old, I got the chance to see a real life Obeyah-woman (a West Indies 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 excitement from head to toe, imagining all sorts of dark magic scenarios. I had heard so many stories from my relatives and parents about possessions, spells and the evils of Obeyah, but I had never imagined that I would be able to witness it for myself.
Once we reached our destination, my mood shifted when the adults went inside a small wooden house and us kids were left outside to entertain ourselves. I waited anxiously as afternoon turned to dusk, my eyes glued to the house.
Finally, the door opened and my aunt and mother re-emerged. I pulled my mother aside and asked if I too could see this soothsayer. I tugged on her arm and pleaded. Luckily, my aunt sided with me, and in helping me coax my mother, she reluctantly agreed.
I followed her back into the house and up a short set of stairs, brushing past a curtain of wooden beads and sat among 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. “You can ask me anything.”
The woman was nothing like I had imagined. She didn’t brandish a long, crooked nose. Her face and hands weren’t covered in warts. She looked… 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, instead she asked a question of her own: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I smiled sheepishly, almost embarrassed.
The Obeyah-woman closed her eyes. “I see a lot of travel in your future, good for telling stories,” she said. I waited for the verdict. Seconds passed like minutes. She reached out, held my hands, her eyes meeting mine. “If you want to be a writer, you will be a writer.”
I left the Obeyah-woman’s house perplexed. Her open-ended answer and the memory of that visit grew to haunt me. For years after, I took the woman’s words with a grain of salt, thinking the visit a bust. It wasn’t until recently that I began to realize the wisdom in her words.
Our futures, our dreams and wishes, lie solely in our own hands and no one else’s. We are the answers which we seek.”
Christina Persaud was born in Ohio. Her alma mater is The George Washington University where she studied International Affairs and has since built a career in the non-profit sector.
Today, she resides in Maine with her husband and a ferociously sweet Yorkie named Kaiju.