Her smile, like that of most island women, has to be coaxed out to shine. Life is not easy for the female gender here. Momma is the head of the family. Momma brings up the children alone while Daddy "moves on'". Momma works where and when she can to provide for her brood of babies. Momma disciplines the boys, scolds the girls and makes what she can of a life for them all. Single partenting in this matriarchal society, amidst third world poverty, in a nation in recession is deplorable. Cherry's children are grown and living independantly in Nassau now. She and her husband live together in a staff cabin, on-island where they work. Her lot is better, by far, than the norm.
That day, Cherry sported her regular uniform: docker pants and a marina logo tee shirt, stretched tightly over her ample frame. Discounting her gold rings, braceletts, necklace, she is almost androgenous. If one is from off-island and doesn't know who's who, one could easily mistake this harried woman for a man.
"Hello, Cherry!" She swung round to face her caller. Her eyes flicked over the tourist hailing her. "Our mutual friends send their regards." hmmm...... "Do you remember me? (it's only been 3 years and you see hundreds of tourists a year)."
The corners of Cherry's lips lift marginally. "Yes, yes. I remember you. How you doing?"
Finally, a small smile, together with a hand pressed under her left breast. "Are you in pain, Cherry? Maybe you should take a coffee break and rest a bit." Having been up since before the sun, she had had no time for herself.
Two weeks later: "Hey, Cherry! Are you feeling better?" Today she is wearing a bright yellow shirt and her hair is newly done. She has a spring in her step and takes a break for a lengthy chinwag.
Big grin. "I'm good, thanks." The sunshine of her smile blazes on me gloriously. Another day in paradise, another encounter of island hospitality, another beautiful smile--a joy to the heart.