by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 12 Jan 2006)
Kaieteur News printed a letter to the editor on Monday (January 9) by one Sharda Singh that asked four particular questions about me. Now I know full well that this person is only up to mischief since Sharda was clearly not asking these questions just to get to know me better, but I have nothing to hide and I thought it would be fun to tell Guyana more about Stella Ramsaroop.
(Question 1…I can’t believe Sharda actually numbered the questions)
I was born in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States to a very poor woman who raised my two brothers and me (one older and one younger – in case you wanted to know that too, Sharda) by herself. My older brother had Muscular Dystrophy and died when he was only 15 years old (I was ten).
My home life was very difficult because my mother was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive. I had friends who constantly threaten to turn my mother in to the authorities when I would show up to school with more bruises or whelps. However, I would always beg them not to do so because I was afraid of leaving my mother’s home, even though I was also afraid to stay.
(Question 2) I met my husband Paul, a native Guyanese, when I was 15 years old. I fell instantly in love with him. He would listen to talk about my sufferings and he would comfort me when I just couldn’t be strong any more and would break down and cry.
We married young, I was only 16 and he was 19. Now I would never encourage anyone else to do this, but it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me at the time. I had finally found someone who loved me unconditionally and expressed that love in a gentle and caring way.
Needless to say, when I got married, I did not know a thing about cooking, relationships or life. However, my husband’s parents took me under their wings and loved me like I was their own daughter. His mom taught me how to cook, so the first dishes I learned to fix were Guyanese dishes like chicken curry and rice – a staple in the Ramsaroop family. I thoroughly immersed myself in my husband’s culture and enjoyed it completely.
Eighteen months later, we had our first daughter and the next year our first son. Shortly afterwards, we left the States and lived in several Latin American countries for varying lengths of time. While living in Panama for a few years, we adopted a four-year-old Haitian boy and a newborn Panamanian girl.
We had always wanted to adopt and since both of my pregnancies were extremely difficult, we were grateful for the chance to bring these two children into our home. As you can see, Sharda, we are a very racially diverse family.
(Question 3) We came back to the states in the mid-nineties, yet we still move around a lot because of my husband’s career. Together with Peter Ramsaroop, my husband’s brother, and another partner, the three started an Information Technology company a few years ago and made it successful. Peter sold his portion of the company last year so he could focus on his endeavours in Guyana.
I am a freelance writer and have also had business dealings with Peter to help with some of the communications aspects of his business and I edited one of his upcoming books. However, we have no current business dealings.
(Question 4) The picture next to my column is about five years old. I am 36 right now (my birthday is February 12 if you want to send me a card, Sharda), so that picture was taken when I was about 31 or so. You are right that I do not look my age.
In fact, the other day I was picking up some makeup remover – a bottle for my oldest daughter and one for myself. The girl at the counter asked, “You have a daughter old enough to wear make up?” I responded, “I have a daughter in college.” The youthful appearance comes from good clean living. Therefore, I’m sure you look young for your age too, Sharda.
You are also right that I need an updated picture. The problem is that I am just not photogenic at all, so when I get a decent picture I tend to stick with it for a while. However, just for you, Sharda, I will try my best to get a new one made as soon as possible for the column.
Now, what else is there to share with you about myself? Oh, I know. My personality is very similar to my columns; there are days when I am full of feisty attitude, days when I am ticked off at injustice and days when I tend to be more academic. However, no matter what the mood of the day, I always like to have fun. It is how I keep my groove.
I am 5’6” with blonde hair and blue eyes, but don’t believe that old stereotype about blondes being dumb, because I can argue a point up one side and right back down the other before many people ever get a word in edgewise. Do you like to debate, Sharda?
My own husband doesn’t know how much I weigh, so I suppose you can do without that information as well, right dear? I am an avid reader. I love all the political mumbo-jumbo of life and I am a HUGE history buff. I like flowers, chocolate and I would like to think that I am Joan-of-Arc reincarnated, but my friends tell me that I could have never submitted to even a king.
I guess that is about all there is to tell about me, Sharda, and I believe that I have answered all of your questions and then some. I hope you got what you were looking for. See, I know you (and your cohorts) think the people of Guyana will not want to read my column anymore when they know that I am not a native Guyanese (a fact I thought was common knowledge already). However, I think you are wrong about them.
I know first hand how Guyanese can open their hearts to someone regardless of race or nationality – just like my husband’s family did. Further, my sincere love for Guyana cannot be doubted, even if I was not born there. I have no hidden agenda, what you see (and read) is who I am – through and through. Sometimes it is brilliant and sometimes I need another five cups of coffee before it makes sense, but it is always fun.
Sharda, someone told me that this is just another case of attacking the messenger instead of dealing with the message. Are they right? Why don’t you prove them wrong by telling me your life story now? Since I have told you all about me, why don’t you tell me about yourself and then we can become best of friends. What do you say, Sharda? Who are you?