Table Mama – Betel nut vendor

By Raychelle Cassey Redi

An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

A hardworking person,
A family backbone,
An early morning bird that wakes up
To go buy betel nut in bulk,
Set up her table and resell them,
To earn some cash to put food on the table.

She’s the bread and butter for the family.
She struggles to earn a toea
But family doesn’t appreciate her sweat.
She gets scolds from an angry father
Who only thinks he’s the boss
And punches when he’s drunk

She sacrifices time at her table market
To earn something to buy food for dinner
But all she receives are bitter words
Spat out from an ungrateful mouth
She humbles herself and moves on.
Holds no grudges against child or husband.

She risked her life from the city police
Who go around barking at vendors
Overthrowing their tables,
Stealing their betel nut
Taking their other possessions
Their bilums and their money.

After a long day at her table market
She still gets the house in order.
She cooks food and feeds her family.
Tidies her home and goes to bed late.
She accepts her family needs
Are more important than her own.

She never learnt economics
But she makes best choices to sacrifice herself
To gain something for her family.
Truly she’s a house manageress.
Making good decisions. Knowing how much to sell.
Knowing how much to make that day.

She uses the scarce resources, to meet her family’s needs.
Never learnt Management but knows to produce for family.
Her priority is her family’s satisfaction.
Truly she’s a heroine.
I off take my hat to a hardworking table mama
She deserves to be honoured.

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