Short Stories: Tacuba – By Geoff Burrowes

 – By Geoff Burrowes

There is a word in the Guyanese lexicon: Tacuba

     I’m not sure where the word originates but my understanding is that it refers to a tree or branch that has fallen into a creek or river and over a period of time the bark and the softwood have been worn away by the action of the water, leaving a piece of almost indestructible hardwood.

In our camping days when we came cross a tacuba we would burn it in the fire overnight and it would burn right into the early hours of the morning.     

    In our terminology it has also come to mean someone who exhibits the qualities of toughness and long lasting life!       

Norma my wife comes from a family ,the Ramphals and the Abdools who are tacubas. They live long and have fruitful lives.

I am also blessed to be a tacuba. Through no qualities of my own but through the grace of a loving God!

As a child growing up I was so accident prone that my aunt Beryl DeFreitas, who is a devout Catholic gave me a St Christopher’s medal to protect me. Did it work? Well I’m still around!

I discovered, as later in life I studied the Bible, that we have a loving God “who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that all who believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!” The Bible also told me “that by His stripes were we healed” and that faith in God can move mountains. I have chosen to believe this and though I have survived a stroke, a heart attack and numerous other ailments I am still around.

I am not  bragging for I had no control over any of this but I do count myself a takuba.

I am also surrounded by strong women. I tended to be misogynistic but no longer! I have seen how the women in my life have stood up to the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ and if I had any doubts about women’s ability to take an equal place in this world that has long since disappeared.

My Burrowes aunts, Winnie Francis and Beryl DeFreitas, were forthright intelligent women who believed in honesty, integrity and plain speech, who graced their families with honour and power and I see the same qualities in my daughter Mary Leigh and my niece Dianna. I would not have survived the trials I have gone through without the strength, loyalty, outstanding capability and love of my sweetheart Norma Patricia, an exceptional person, who could have been the leader of any enterprise or country that she chose to.

When I see women mistreated or denigrated it makes me so angry! There is no place in this world for men who think that women are inferior to them and that women should earn less than them for doing the same jobs! Or worse still men who abuse the women that we who have the strength and the wisdom that God has given us to protect them against all who would seek to do them harm!

Well it’s time for me to climb down off the soapbox but I hope that all the men who read this will treat the women in their lives with the love and protection that they deserve!

Until next time, men of power!!

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Comments

  • brandli62  On 03/03/2021 at 7:46 am

    Wonderful thoughts, Geoff! I too can relate to those strong and intelligent Guyanese women, like my mother, my grandmother and several aunts of the Kranenburg family that endowed me with a sense of respect for others, integrity and honesty. I also share your views of zero tolerance for misogynistic behaviour.

    • geoffburrowes  On 03/05/2021 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks Brandli62
      Our sons Brian and David used to go to Mrs Kranenburg’s school in Bel Air and I knew a delightful gentleman Mr Kranenburg who was the accountant at Marics on Charlotte St.and who used to lend me copies of old Chronicle stories originally written when BG was still a young country.
      Mrs Kranenburg had a great influence on both of our sons and I am delighted to hear from you.

      • brandli62  On 03/05/2021 at 2:32 pm

        Geoff, wonderful that you are reaching out. My grandfather was Cyril Kranenburg OBE, who used to work at the treasury in the colonial administration of British Guiana. My aunt Joan Christiani (née Kranenburg) was the head of the National Library until her retirement. She is now in her early nineties. She still lives on New Market Street, where I used to hang out as a child whenever we returned from Switzerland to visit the Guyanese side of the family. Small world! Keep your short stories coming. They are all little treasures!

  • Stanley Greaves.  On 03/03/2021 at 12:51 pm

    HELLO GEOFF…Tacuba is probably a word from an Indigenous People’s language. They were navigating rivers for thousands of years and would have encountered tacoubas. Coastlanders traveling in boats bolts whether using paddles and or motors carried axes and saws to seal with tacubas.

  • geoffburrowes  On 03/05/2021 at 12:48 pm

    Hello Stanley! I have always admired you. You taught my cousin, Arthur Burrowes and I remember you from the Working Peoples Art Class at QC!
    Thanks for your comment.

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