Treasure in our Midst
A review of Fr. Clement Jolly's new book
Close your eyes and see; see the sound of the vibrating Lapau Cabrit drum; see the smell of jumping droplets of hot oil leaping from your frying pan as the chicken breast becomes eatable brown; see your lover's heart jump and somersault as you say: "I love you". See what the eye cannot see.
Those of us who can see do not know what we are missing; for all we know persons who are visually challenged may be having all the fun.
I'm talking about people like Nathalie Murphy, the Executive Director of the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities (DAPD).
Now, you can see Nathalie Murphy through the eyes of one of Dominica's most prolific authors, Fr. Clement S. Jolly, C.SsR.
In his latest book: "Treasure in our Midst-the Life and Mission of Nathalie Murphy" Jolly compares Murphy to the famous jurist Telford Georges and to cultural icons Mabel "Sissie" Caudeiron, Elsie Ritchie and Ophelia Olivaccé Marie.
"In their journey through life, they have all three displayed and promoted the empowerment of women. They have shown us the kind use which we should make of their lives," writes Fr. Jolly in the introduction to the book. "I present Nathalie to our people because she provides much-needed inspiration to us."
Like many good writers, Jolly uses simple words; his sentences jump, jump, jump- like a bare- foot child playing hopscotch in a school yard; still playing hopscotch, the words then turn around and then nimbly jump… jump…jump through 20 short chapters.
"Treasure in our Midst" is a small neat book; it is not the tome that behaves like a big book bully, keeping the reader away with a snare and a growl. Jolly's book is just 176 pages long and it holds tightly to our interest with a few black-and-white photographs of Nathalie Murphy's life.
It is not a treatise on blindness by any means but it encapsulates the life of a blind woman whose enthusiasm for living is as contagious as a baby's smile.
I will always remember the day that I saw Nathalie Murphy watching the West Indies cricket team play New Zealand in July 2014 at the Windsor Park Sports Stadium in Roseau. I wondered then: what is she doing here, what could a blind person see at a cricket match? Then I saw and heard her laughter. The batsman's bat had just struck the ball with a solid "clunk" and it sailed overhead into the stands for six. The crowd cheered, long and loud. Nathalie was ecstatic. The blind could see cricket, I realised.
Peter J. William