The Tragic Life of Mary Dickson

Mary's Reflections on Amarte's letter

Mary was ecstatic to receive Amarte’s response, she read it again and again, she understood it all, but the ending made her uncomfortable.

She wondered if it was Amarte’s polite way of saying goodbye to her.

“Do not come to me because your body yearns for mine as I know mine will always yearn for yours, even as I write to you now I long to hold you in my arms, still though I yearn for you as I am sure you are yearning for me, feel free my Mary, to pursue your dreams, strive to discover that which I cannot satisfy in you even if that will mean our paths may never cross again.

No matter what may unfold along the paths we tread, you will always be my Mary, and I hope that I will always be your

Amarte”

In her heart, she knew everything he said was right, but she did not want to believe that their relationship would end, that was too high a price to pay for she was not even sure what.

Since the death of her parents which she only found out about two years after they died, she never really thought of herself as an orphan, maybe that was because she never really thought of her mother and her father as her parents.

Except for Aggie, she did not have any friends, growing up in Jamaica, most of her life was spent on the estate, only Aggie was allowed to come and visit her.

She could not go to the river or any event unless Aggie was going with her, she would lie to her father that she and Aggie were going somewhere, then she would secretly meet Amarte at an agreed to location.

One of the best times for her to leave the estate was when her father had just finished smoking ganja in “the big room” and was what the workers would say “Misa Aris Chaage”.

She was allowed to go riding on her horse “white face” if Ned who took care of the horses went riding with her, she loved riding, and Ned would allow her to sneak off and meet Amarte, she knew that even though he never said it, Ned hated her father and he would never “tell on her” if they were out for a long time because she spent too much time with Amarte, Ned was very good at making up stories about where they went and what took them so long.

After she turned 18, she started to “put her foot down” and openly defied her father, one day she overheard him telling her mother “I am going to send her to school in America, if she stays here I am going to end up shooting that boy or pay somebody to kill him” that was what made up Mary’s mind, she agreed to go to America, money was not an issue, her father had lots of money.

When she was leaving for America, the only three people she missed were Amarte, Ned, and Aggie.

In California, she did not make any friends; she did not want to make friends, especially after she was called a nigger the first time.

Mary was carrying so much pain and hurt inside her; she wanted no close contact with anyone, she did everything alone, she had lots of money from her father to live in a beautiful apartment, eat out if she chose to, go to theatres and plays.

There were heartrending secrets buried so deep inside her which she could not let go of; she lived with an emptiness she could not overcome. Mary wrote poems and essays, read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gibran, Neitzche, and Kierkegaard. She was an outstanding student with an undivided focus on her subjects.

The only time she felt happy was when she received letters from Amarte and Aggie, all the money that her father kept sending her did not make her feel loved or appreciated, what he cared about was to keep her away from Amarte, and maybe to ease his conscience if he had a conscience.

The more money he sent her, the more she despised him, her mother never wrote to her or called her, but she understood because, like her, her mother was just another pawn in her father’s hands.

Mary Writes  to Amarte

Mary’s mind was so filled with thoughts of Amarte; sleeping did not seem to be an option, her conscience was assailing her with thoughts of the years she left Amarte in New York and went to the Orient.

She felt an urgent need to write a letter to him.

“My Dearest Amarte,

The love of my life, from Aggie’s house in Mandeville Manchester I write to you tonight.

I miss you now more than I have ever missed you. I long to feel the soft touch of your hands caressing my skin, making my body tingle with delight.

I miss you, the seducer of my mind and the conqueror of the passions of my body, what would I not give tonight to feel your soft lips covering mine, while I surrender to the rhythmic movements of your body as you hold me in your amorous embrace.

So magical it would be to feel the fragrance of your breath upon my face as my lips lovingly taste yours.

O Amarte, dearest Amarte, love of my life, my days are short but my nights are long, at nights I lay in my bed wondering where I went wrong, how I rue the years I went away from you, pursuing my dreams which never came true.

During all the years away from you, being unfaithful to you was never an option that even crossed my mind, before you came into my innocent childhood life, I had never willingly hugged another man, you are the first human that I have from my heart truly loved, you are maybe the first human that ever truly loved me. I lament the years when because you loved me, you endured my father’s hate, that should never have been your fate.

When our youthful love, passions, and desires raged and made us yearn for each other, my father successfully kept us apart, now that he is no more we are still apart, only this time we are apart because of the choices we have made.

Choices yours or mine, do not still my longing to be with you or my anxiety to be reassured that I am yours and you are mine.

Yet though so much I desire to have that assurance, as I write to you tonight my heart is torn, and my mind is travailing with many thoughts of things which makes me feel unworthy to be your life’s companion. 

Let me hasten to say to you dearest Amarte, the love of my life, my lover and my best friend; I have never forgotten the words you shared with me from a poem you wrote on a sunny afternoon while we were sitting on the rocks at Campbell’s Blue Hole in Stewart Mountain.

Mary When people stay together for reasons other than the mutual desires of their hearts, that relationship becomes a trap, unhappiness sets in, spirits become despondent, and the yearn for freedom more often than not leads to infidelity”.

Wise words they were and tonight they ring loudly in my ears and pierce my conscience because there are things which you do not know about Mary, if revealed to you, you may desire not to be with her.

Tonight my dearest friend, I have not the strength or the moral fortitude to bare my all to you.

Tonight the water seems to be higher than the bridge; I have chosen to wait until it subsides before I attempt to cross.

Amarte my dearest friend, I know that the complexity of my mind and the burdens I carry, have always been a challenge to you, for that I have no apology, I cannot separate myself from who I truly am.

 Should the ambiguity and uncertainty of my mind cause doubt in your mind and your heart, and you no longer desire to be with me, I say, first be truthful to yourself and then be truthful to me, I will love you no less than I do now.

If we are truthful to ourselves, you and I, we will never use that powerful and ineffable feeling we call “love” as a palliative to ease the pain we fear the truth will cause each other, that would be like a physician who gives a dying patient a placebo with an assurance that he or she will get well soon.

I have never identified with the “privileged, fair-skinned, pretty girl with good hair, the daughter of a rich man, who could send her to “a good school”, buy her anything she needed, send her to study in America,” except for yourself and Aggie Sharpe, that was the version of me that everyone else around me saw.

No one could see that I was slowly dying inside, I was living with a father who treated my mother like a whore and a slave, I was living in a community where 90% of the people were black with a father who hated black people and would lambaste me for having a black friend.

Yes Amarte, no one could have seen how unhappy I was and how much I was suffering inside because of things I cannot speak of even to you whom so much I love.

Before you came into my life I did not know what it was like to be loved; my father believed that showing love was a sign of weakness, my mother as my father’s submissive slave, never once hugged me or comforted me even when I was crying, to comfort myself I would go to my room and flood my pillow with my tears.

During those years, I could not even identify to myself who I was, there was the Mary Dickson who was really Mary Aris, living with a father who did not allow his daughter to carry his name, sometimes someone would ask me what my name was and I said “Mary Dickson”, the person would look confused and say “but aren’t you Percy Aris’ daughter?” I could only answer with silence.

There was the illusory Mary created by the community; there was the sad and lonely Mary who had no friends except for Aggie Sharpe, who passed my father’s skin colour test.

There was the “crazy Mary who talked to herself and trees; there was the Uppity Mary who thought that she was white and better than the dark-skinned boys who made passes at her.

Then there was yours and Aggie’s Mary who was the only Mary that ever existed.

My father did not send me to study in America because he loved me, he sent me to America to keep me away from you, I did not go to America to be away from you, I went because I did not want my father to have you assassinated and I would also get away from him.

When I came to be with you in New York, there was so much confusion and pain bottled up inside of my mind, commingled with my unfulfilled desires and maybe even lust for you.

I was in a suppressed volcanic state where eruption was safer than containment, I gave my all to you, you subdued all my desires and my passions, you truly released my body from its stress, but I confess to you Amarte, there was a part of me which you never touched or satisfied, that was the part of me that drove me to leave you in America and to travel in the Orient and Europe.

No Amarte, I did not find fulfillment, in Tibet, China and India, I practiced meditation and learned how to calm my mind and enter my inner consciousness, I learned how to subdue my passions and to detach my mind from situations which cause me stress.

No, my friend, I did not find peace, the same things which haunted me then haunt me even more now.

It was you who showed and gave me what we call “love” when I needed it most, the words you spoke to me about my racist father who even threatened to kill you, were ever-present in my mind during my years in the Orient, from the day you spoke those words, I kept them in a notebook and always read them aloud to myself:

 “We can choose to see beyond the colour of our skins and appreciate that the colour of our skins do not limit what we can achieve, the limitations to what we can achieve are created by ourselves”.

Our minds are neither black or white, there is no black or white love there is only love, there is no black or white kindness, there is only kindness, there is no black or white hunger there is only hunger, there is no black or white illness, there is only illness, there is no black or white friendship, there is only friendship, there is no black or white death, there is only death.

If you recall Amarte, my short response to you was “we cannot always let ignorance win” when we accept injustice or unfair discrimination, we do let ignorance win, within those few words my friend was a promise I made to myself but that promise to myself I no longer need to keep because ignorance died without me having to raise my hand.

Your words spoken to me partially out of anger and an assiduous resolve to fight injustice were what gave me courage and strength to endure and stand up to racism at the university in California, my fair skin and so-called good hair” like they did in Jamaica, did not protect me form racial discrimination, in California, I was just another “nigger”.

In Jamaica, I was angry with the hypocrisy of the system, the church, my parents, all the boys except you, who despised me because they could not have their way with me.

I was angry that the colour of my skin was both a privilege and a handicap all rolled up in one, I traveled to America nursing that anger, in California, that anger became even more intense but your words gave me strength, they motivated me to like you said “We can choose to see beyond the colour of our skins and appreciate that the colour of our skins do not limit what we can achieve, the limitations to what we can achieve are created by ourselves”

Those words Amarte, inspired me to excel in my studies, I chose Comparative Religion because I felt that somewhere within the obscurity of religious doctrines there were answers to many of my unanswered questions, like why does God allow so many atrocities to happen in the world, why do religions which are supposed to come from God create so much division, wars and confusion in the world and seemed to lack the cohesive capacity to unite even their own followers.

In psychology I was trying to discover the reasons for some human behaviours, and to understand myself and my relationship with my fellow human beings.

Your words followed me to the Orient through the capitals of Europe; they were my inspiration to build on the foundation which you set for me to climb on.

My years in the Orient taught me to see the world with a new mind, through yoga and meditation, I released some anger from my mind, I even learned to control my body from wanting you and my mind from pining over you, which does not mean that I loved you any less than I ever did.

Coming home after my parents have been dead for more than two years, I am overwhelmed by a plethora of ineffable emotions, the closest to a feeling I can describe is what Roger Waters of Pink Floyd called “Comfortably Numb” no “my hands” do not “feel like two balloons” that classification would be more applicable to my mind and heart.

Tonight here I am missing the man I love, I will not control my body from wanting you or my mind from pining over you, because missing and wanting you tonight feels too good to be wrong.

May the Great Spirit  protect  and  keep you safe for

Mary”.