By Pauline Karalus
Gwendalyne Umake (or Wendy for short), having being the first born in a family of seven children, was obliged to stay home and help her mum take care of her younger siblings. She never had the chance to continue her education at the local primary school after she finished elementary.
Daily chores began in the morning with the sound of scraping coconut to prepare breakfast and lunch for her little ones and ended in the evening with the preparation of dinner for the whole family. She grew up as expected by the elders.
At the age of 18 she was handed in for marriage to a boy from another clan. Wendy was ready to face reality, but life didn’t turn out as expected.
She was often brutally physically abused by her cruel husband and it came to the breaking point where she finally decided she couldn’t carry on with the arranged marriage anymore and bravely took off to her parents.
Soon she eloped away with the boy she had fallen in love with during her teenage years. At her new home, she was happy confident that her new marriage would work out but she was worried about how she would support her family financially due to the fact that she has never been to school.
At this time Wendy questioned herself and whether she was good enough to become the mother she had always dreamt of being. Questions popped up in her head; questions she never had answers for.
She couldn’t go back to school again, for it was too late and she now had too many responsibilities. Her main focus had to be on providing the needs for her new and little, but soon to grow, family.
Wendy had so much love for gardening. She would plant new food crops she would get from relatives who themselves got them from places within the province they would travel to.
Her garden never ran out of vegetables and fruits. The love of gardening soon gave her insights on accomplishing things that had seemed impossible.
Eventually she decided to turn one of her husband’s oldest cocoa blocks into a pineapple block. She suggested the idea to her husband who got motivated in helping his loving wife do what she thought was best for her and their family as a whole.
The following day her husband had to load pineapple suckers in a wheelbarrow and take them to the planting grounds. Wendy planted all the suckers and filled up the whole block with the help of her husband in only one week.
Cleaning, weeding and waiting for them to bear fruits the following year seemed to be a very short period of time as she was always busy with work to do. Her pigs to be fed, laundry to be done, new gardens to be made and more.
The Ples Meri now racks money from the pineapple plantation she made some years back. There is really not very good market for it back at Buin, however, she finds transport for her fruits to be taken to Buka and be sold.
When there isn’t any transport available, the ripe fruits are either thrown away to the pigs or her relatives from far come and gather as much as they like and go.