“My Story” Chapter 08

“My Story” – by Randall Butisingh.

(Reminiscences during my life beginning 1913)


My mother was also a fighter.  To say that she was fearless was no exaggeration.  She was involved in several fights and never lost one.  Because of my father’s complacency and tendency to take things easy when there’s need for action, there were occasionally verbal clashes, my mother being the aggressor.  I was about three years old when I witnessed during one of these verbal assaults by my mother, my father made the mistake of slapping her.  Thereupon, she seized a cutlass and attacked him.  He, however, a strapping two-hundred- pounder held her hand with great difficulty, but could not extricate the weapon.  He began to plead with her, to calm down, begging her like a child going to be spanked.  She, after a while, relented.  Never again did my father try to hit her.  I believe she would have used the cutlass.

On another occasion, the altercation was with her brother.  My mother and her only brother were mortal enemies.  In fact, my mother never got along with her siblings, except one sister who had a son a little younger than I with whom I was allowed to play.  We lived near my uncle and something happened between my younger sister and one of his boys.  This sparked a quarrel and my uncle came in a rage with his two eldest sons, each carrying a pin- stick (a stick about six or seven feet long and an inch in diameter, used at sea for pinning the nets).  One of the boys hit my sister with it.  I challenged him to hit her again. In the meantime my mother had my uncle held by the collar and pinned against the wall of our house.  My younger brother ran in the house and fetched a cutlass and handed it to her; there and then she inflicted a wound on his forehead.  Fortunately, the cutlass was not sharp or the wound would have been serious.  The matter was taken to court.  The outcome, I cannot recall much, but it did not go hard against my mother.  I recall my uncle saying;  ” e tek me head mek wata coknut”.

On another occasion she had a fight with a carter.  This man lived not far from us.  He was slight in built but was able to carry a bag of sugar weighing two hundred and forty pounds on his back to a nearby shop.  When he drank, for some reason or the other he would curse my mother.  This happened often.  One day he came out and challenged her saying in the foulest language what he would not do to her.  My mother who herself was slight in built came out barehanded  and grappled him by his collar and with hardly any resistance from him, had him on his back on the ground with her foot on his chest.  My father and my aunt’s husband came to the rescue. My father weighed over two hundred pounds; he was one of the strongest men in those days, and my aunt’s husband who used to challenge Africans to fight,  took much effort and their combined strength to release her grip on him.

My mother once told us a story about something that happened when she was a girl sixteen years old and pregnant with her first child, my half sister.  A friend had asked her to accompany her to a neighbouring estate to meet a relative.  The journey was not far and it was early evening.  She said that when they reached the luggage track they met a young man about nineteen or twenty years old.  Seeing what he thought were two defenseless girls, he held on to the hand of her friend.  The girl was in great fear and began to cry.  Thereupon my mother held his hand and pulled it away saying, ‘loose the gyal’.  He released her and held my mother’s hand.  The girl left and ran away.   But my mother had taken with her a small penknife which she always walked with, with one blade open in the pocket of her skirt.  Quick as lightning, she stabbed him on his throat, the blood spurting and getting on her clothes.  He immediately let go of her hand and ran all the way home.  She said she walked home, washed the blood from off her clothes and went to bed.   The next morning the news went around that two Baron (Beterverwagting) bai (boys) stab X and if the weapon had gone in a pin point more, he would have died.  Many years later, I came to know a man, intelligent, a humourist and in good society who bore the name of X.   I cannot say that he was the same man, but he had a scar on his throat.



  1. Vi said,

    Thank you for a good laugh. The cutlass is a smybol of all out war and when you see it you better run.

  2. Helena Martin (DaSilva) said,

    I am laughing so hard reading your wonderful stories and can just see it all because I have also experienced (watching of course) some of these incidents. I love your mother without having to meet her!! Thanks for the laughs!!

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