MAY PEN, CLARENDON — Monday evening wasn't the first time Dorothy Morgan allegedly set fire to a house she shared with her husband Llewellyn, but this time all is gone.
Now homeless, Morgan on Tuesday begged for help, saying that after years of trying to live with his mentally ill wife his entire family has suffered as their matriarch wrestled with her illness.
"Is mi wife burn down the house; she light the mattress and say a shoulda me burn up in deh. She nuh so hundred and mi can't control her, and she talk all the while say she a go burn down the house," the elderly man said, adding that although they shared the three-bedroom house, they occupied separate rooms.
He said he was at work when he got the devastating news that their house in Ebony Grove, York Town, Clarendon, had been gutted by fire. It happened sometime after 6:00 pm on Monday.
"She was at home by herself when the incident happened; a somebody weh can move about and wash her own clothes and look after herself," he explained.
His wife, who is in her 60s, is on medication, he said, but she sometimes refuses to take it.
"Her daughter carry her to the doctor and she get medication and sometime she take it and another time she nuh take it. Even when we mix it in her tea there are times when she nuh drink it either. She have a head problem more time; a good time she have it, many years now. Sometimes she alright and sometime she nuh alright, more time she gwaan like a she rule. Even the pickney dem try talk to her but everybody 'fraid a her," he lamented.
According to Morgan, their daughter had scolded her mother when she saw her lighting a fire on Monday. In response, the elderly woman told her "the Saviour" told her to set the fire.
"Mi daughter out di fire and give her dinner and mix her tablets in her drinks and she drink it. By the time my daughter reach home she light the mattress and say she want new mattress and house and mi shoulda burn up inna di fire," a weary Morgan told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.
They have lost everything. Now in the 70s, he said that at his age he knows how hard it will be to rebuild his life. He thinks it will be easier if he does not have to worry about what his wife will do next.
"Mi a old man, mi cyaan manage her, mi just can't manage no more. Everything burn up — TV, fridge, bed, radio, stove, bicycle, wacker — everything burn. Only the suit on mi back mi have. Mi fix bicycle and wacker in a room and everything gone, every single thing, down to the spoon gone," he said of the destroyed dwelling.
Now he is worried about what will become of him as he tries to find somewhere to live, without his wife.
"I have nowhere to sleep. I slept on the floor at one of my daughter's house last night, but she nuh have the space because she have her children. So now mi a contemplate fi go sleep a mi next daughter yard. Mi nuh know how mi a go manage because she nuh have it either and she have her pickney dem too. Mi just nuh know how mi a go manage," he said, obviously frustrated.
He said he had thwarted his wife's previous attempt to set their house on fire.
"One time she light the house and mi a try out it with a drum a water, she use a knife and stab after mi. Mi haffi throw the water pan her and wet her up and push her down; a so mek mi coulda out the [fire]. Is a good ting mi did come in early from work or else it woulda burn down years ago. It rough pan mi and mi a old man. Mi over 70; mi nuh young boy and mi cyaan manage di argument and the drama and run round house business. Mi cyaan manage it no more so mek government tek her," he appealed.
He wants his wife institutionalised so she can get the help she needs and he can get some relief.
He also alleged that whenever his wife misbehaves and he attempts to reprimand her, she defecates in the house.
"The stench is unbearable and mi cyaan manage, mi just cyaan manage no more. A long time mi a bear with her but mi can't take it no more," said the frustrated senior citizen.
The Clarendon Fire Department confirmed that the Morgan house was destroyed by fire on Monday but has provided no report.
Morgan's tale of the struggles he has had with his wife has been confirmed by Councillor Uphell Purcell (People's National Party, York Town Division) who says he has known the couple for years.
"She try to burn down the house before and sometimes when she ready she leave the yard and gone fi days and nobody knows where she gone. She is a sick lady," he said.
The Clarendon Poor Relief Department has started to help Morgan with food, putting together a care package for him on Tuesday, and the Red Cross is mobilising its resources to help him as well. Anyone who wishes to offer additional assistance may reach Morgan at (876) 505-6576 or (876) 339-8659.