‘Oney’ pushes ahead despite loss of arm
What was a scheduled regular trip to Knox College for then 12-year-old Fitzroy Montaque turned into tragedy after he fell from a bus and subsequently lost his left arm more than 40 years ago.
"A deh so me life mash, man, cause me drop off the bus and me stop go school from that," he said.
Montaque, 56, told THE WEEKEND STAR that he was standing on the step of the bus when the vehicle took a sudden swerve around a corner and he fell.
"All me foot did bruck. A terrible thing me go through. All right here so, the driver say a the bus wheel drive over me. A the wheel mark this," he said, pointing to a scar on his belly.
He said that he spent a year in hospital being treated for his injuries.
"Me not even like remember it, Jah know. A in a hospital mi wake up and see me hand cut off," he said.
"The first thing me say was that me nah go get no girl, that was the first thought that come to mi," he laughed.
Montaque however, said that he found new hope when he became a father 31 years ago. But as if life was not already difficult for the one-arm man, Montaque found himself saddled with the humongous task of raising his three children, including a four-year-old, after his common-law wife died. He now had to find ways to take care of his family.
The single father had to double his efforts to cater to his family's needs. His intermittent job on construction sites was not enough to sustain the family. He began doing several other odd jobs, including offering his services as a handcart driver, assisting vendors and shoppers with their heavy market loads.
"A handcart send my youth dem guh school, enuh. One a me friend make a cart give me, because me did just siddung naah do nutten," he related.
PERFECTED HIS CRAFT
He said he initially struggled to steer and control the cart, but managed to perfect his craft after many years of practice.
Montaque currently is a vendor, selling carrots and beetroot in May Pen, Clarendon's capital. Though life as a vendor is no easy feat, especially with a disability, Montaque says he refuses to give up.
"Me nah mek it trouble me 'cause me still a fi move. From me can find me food me alright, and begging is not my style. Me is a man weh cyaa stay a yard cause nutten nuh deh a yard. When the load heavy me just put down and rest," said Montaque. He shared that he is able to make a living by saving money via a partner plan.
Montaque, known as 'Oney' throughout May Pen, says he has never felt disrespected in public -- a common woe expressed by several disabled people. And as for his moniker, he loves it.
"Me just work with Oney. In a May Pen a just Oney them work with and me nuh have a problem. A one hand me have, enuh, so me couldn't guh have a problem," he joked.
Asserting himself as hard-working, Montaque said, "Me nuh see nutten weh me cyaa do. Me all wash and dem supm deh. Me use me hand and foot and brush 'til me daughter buy me a [washing] machine."
But he lost all his belongings in a fire that gutted his home four months ago. He says he is working assiduously to purchase a cell phone, and to buy building material to rebuild his home. But Montaque is adamant that he will not be deterred by his disability.