In search of the chained teenager By Kim Lucas
Stabroek News
November 3, 2003

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The bizarre story of a teenager, who was chained to a bed in a house at Nabaclis, East Coast Demerara, astounded many readers recently. The police had gone to the house in search of a fugitive, but instead found a mother of one chained by the right ankle and padlocked to a bed.

The Police Public Relations Office stated afterwards that the 17-year-old, who was reportedly found without much clothing on, had returned home late the night before and was being restrained by her reputed husband. The man was at work when the police made the discovery.

That same day, Stabroek News set out in search of the teen. Checks through the little paths of Nabaclis and along the main road turned up empty. A day later, this newspaper decided to search, instead, for the teen’s relatives in nearby Golden Grove.

With just the girl’s name to go on, Stabroek News covered all the streets in the village, asking anyone who might know. Eventually, one resident thought that an elderly villager might be the teen’s grandmother and that she might have some idea.

We found the grandmother sitting on a horse cart, parked in front of a dilapidated house. Beside her sat two young children who appeared to be under one year old. A man lounged on the cart next to her. On a small wooden ‘tray’ nearby was an assortment of items for sale - some bananas, a few packets of biscuits, and some other snacks.

When the car stopped, I greeted the woman in my most friendly voice and told her that I was looking for a woman named ‘Rohani’ or something sounding like that. That was the name of the teen’s grandmother that the villager had given me.

“A who dah?” she snapped and cast suspicious eyes down at the occupants of the car.

So I changed tactics. My suspicion had not yet been confirmed that this was the grandmother, but I pointedly told her that I was looking for her granddaughter. Still with a wary eye on me, the old woman wanted to know why I was looking for her granddaughter, so I told her.

“Me ain’t know way dat girl deh...She nah deh hey. I can’t tell when las me see she,” the woman stated nonchalantly. She told Stabroek News that the last she had heard of her granddaughter was that she “went chain up or something”. She pointed to a baby boy sitting alone on the back step of the house and playing with several buckets of water. That was the teen’s baby and apparently following the police raid, the teen’s mother took the baby to Golden Grove. As the grandmother lamented the teen’s lifestyle, a young woman passed by the yard and announced that the teen was “up de road”. So I asked the young woman to call her.

“A wah yuh want with she?” the girl asked. Not waiting for my reply, she began to shout for her friend who was some distance away.

Eventually the teen appeared smiling. At first she appeared reluctant to say anything about the incident, but after a not too gentle prompting from her grandmother and the inquisitive friend, she very quietly began to recount what had happened before the police found her.

Apparently, she and her son’s father had had a misunderstanding the day before the raid and the man told her to move out, which she did.

“He tell me I must move out and I tek me clothes and go pun de line top and he come and say he want deh back with me.”

The teen said she refused at first, but the man convinced her to return home with him, to “talk”. But the following morning before he left for the city where he worked, the reputed husband decided to secure the teenager. The young lady said it was the first time she was chained. When the man left, his mother turned up and decided to cut the chain with a saw.

“While she [the man’s mother] trying fo cut de chain with de hacksaw, I hear de police come and rap at de door. I didn’t answer them first...then they kick down de door and run in and ask ‘Way Culp deh?’ I say me ain’t know way he deh. I tell dem dat I deh with de lil brother and that Culp child mother deh pon de line, let they go deh and ask she and they [the police] say they gon lash me in me head with de gun,” the young woman told this newspaper.

The police had said that they had gone in search of a wanted man when they came upon the young mother. It appeared that the girl’s grandmother took the opportunity to be briefed about the incident while the teen was relating the story. The girl’s son, had, by this time, made his way from the back step, to the roadway, but a sharp yell from his mother, sent him scooting quickly back in the yard. Soon the grandmother’s attention was taken way by the screams of one of the babies who had fallen from the horse cart.

From all indications, the teenager appeared to lack any sort of guidance from her relatives. At no time during the interview did she express any abhorrence at being chained to a bed. To her, the relationship with the child’s father was not an abusive one, since, according to her, the man never hit her. Just “one, one times we does get a lill talking,” she said.

As this newspaper left the teen behind, her son trotted down the access road barefoot and clad only in briefs. He ran up to a group of young men hanging out on the street and offered to touch one of his tiny fists with theirs. He was learning fast.