Jamaicans are primed to contend with all who speak ill of their country. As someone who grew up and lived in Jamaica until my midtwenties—although I now live in the US—I understand how the culture reacts to criticism.
When I first see Sherene, I can’t help wondering why a teenaged girl is hanging around the clinic on a Saturday afternoon. She is slim, compact, and wears an extremely short denim skirt and a red wool halter-top but seems youthfully uncertain about her body. Her dark shoulders gleam with a hint of sweat from walking to the clinic, though her light makeup is still intact. When she speaks, she announces that she has been in the support group for five years and that she had been living with the virus for six. She tells the story of her three children—the eldest, now eleven, living with her father in Kingston—and the struggle to raise and feed the other two. I’ve misjudged her age completely.