Molly Allen is laughing. It’s a rare moment of levity for the mother who has become a lightning rod for controversy in the past month, drawing both praise and criticism from the public for her relentless quest to seek justice for her daughter, while ruffling the feathers of various government officials. On this day she shares a childhood memory of her own mother from whom she appears to have drawn her tenacity, if not her moxie.
“My mother was very strict. You don’t want to meet my mother. I remember once I took 25 cents when I was a little girl. In the seventies 25 cents was a lot of money. When we used to go to school we used to have a pencil and it would have to last you the whole month. You had to write your name on the pencil. So because I lost mine I decided to steal 25 cents from her. She had her little business and then she was working for government. I said she will not know, not knowing she used to count her money every day.”
Allen’s mother came to the school and pulled her daughter out of class citing a family emergency. Then asked her daughter about the missing money. When Molly feigned innocence, her mother meted out her own brand of punishment; a trip to the district police station. Even the officers were taken aback by the brazen move but her mom was out to make a point. She left her daughter in the custody of an aunt for 25 days; one day for each cent stolen. But it wasn’t long before her heart thawed.
“Before the 25 days was up she came looking for me saying she wants her child,” she recalled.
Allen admits to being equally as tough on her own offspring which includes two daughters, 14 and 10, and a 12-tear-old son. Her oldest resides in Guyana with her mother.
“Everybody knows i’m very strict with my children. I’m very serious with them. I’m not going to spare no rod and spoil no child. Because my mother didn’t spoil me and the old fashioned way stayed with me.”
So who is the woman under the wide brimmed hat?
Allen was born and raised in Guyana where she once ironically tried her hand at reporting.
“We just used to do it during our school time for work study. That’s how the government provided a lot of stuff for us. So when school closed we always had some money.”
She had no plans to come to St Lucia until she got hit by cupid’s arrow thirteen years ago.
“I wasn’t really going to come here, it’s just that I met my children’s father, thought things would have been different but my life took a change. I cannot look back at the past and what happened.”
Undaunted, Allen decided to carve out her own path, despite the concerns of several people close to her who feared her deportation.
“People were saying well since you don’t have your documents you cannot work. I say let me tell you something, my father is a soldier, my stepfather is a hunter. When you go to the jungle you have to know to survive. So if you go to another island you have to know how to survive. I can’t just sit there and say I don’t have this. I don’t have that. God bless each of us with a brain. It’s how we use it.”
She has been employed in several households as a housekeeper before venturing into her own business of selling local juices. It’s work that has helped her build a modest home in the Corinth area. But despite her limited resources Allen is at peace with her situation.
“I show my children vanity is not all. The main thing is contentment. And that is how I was raised. My mother showed when you have contentment you can move forward in life. When we keep looking at things and people we can go bankrupt, steal, because we want more than what we can chew. Even if it’s a small piece of bread, I always give my children what I have.”
It’s a softer side of the woman that is self-admittedly aggressive and loves challenging the status quo. Allen has started attended services regularly and has frequent talks with her pastor. But don’t think this lioness will be tamed anytime soon.
“You see me? I show it raw. I tell you how it is. If I have to cuss you, I cuss you. If I done telling you whatever I have to tell you, I finish with that. If you want to put it in your heart forever, too bad for you. I done reach down the road and come back up. That’s who I am.”