As the Me Too movement gathers momentum, the conversation about the historical exploitation of women and sexual power dynamics has spread to Caribbean literature. This story uses the Poui blossom that flowers in the dry season in Trinidad, an island in the Caribbean, as a metaphor for loss, fragility, renewal, and resilience, to demonstrate how it is impossible to separate these dynamics from the way vulnerable women, still embedded in age-old dynamics, turn to powerful men for protection and healing, ironically from the hurt from other men, leading to further abuse. In this particular instance, Poui before Rain explores the nikah, the Islamic marriage that allows a man living under Islamic law to marry up to three women in a simple ceremony using two witnesses. Equally, he is allowed to divorce by simply repeating Talaak (I divorce you) three times. The nikah is a largely hidden phenomenon in Trinidad (a multicultural democracy where people of all faiths live), but it is far more prevalent than previously believed. Poui before Rain is the story of a woman who is “saved” by a doctor from despair and ill-health after the death of her child and crumbling of her marriage to a gay man who prefers to remain in the closet. The doctor, who does a nikah with her, is on the verge of discarding her when she seeks justice, and in so doing, she finds redemption as well as healing from unexpected spaces.
Poui before Rain
Ira Mathur is an Indian-born multimedia journalist living in Trinidad and Tobago, where she works as a columnist for the Trinidad Guardian. She is the recipient of nine regional awards for excellence in journalism and was shortlisted for the Hollick Arvon Prize in 2013 and 2014. In 2018 she was shortlisted for both the Bridport Prize: Short Story and the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. An excerpt from her novel in progress is anthologized in Thicker Than Water (2018). She is currently on the longlist of the 2019 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize.
Ira Mathur; Poui before Rain. Small Axe 1 July 2019; 23 (2 (2)): 100–114. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7703332
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