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In Memory Of Maria 1909 East Indian Love Affair

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Maria

 

Statue of Maria and the Virgin Mary, Claxton Bay.

According to the legend, in the year 1909 the young woman, Maria, was the daughter of a Spanish overseer on the Forres Park Sugar Estate and she was in love with an East Indian labourer working on the estate. Maria’s parents, especially her father, did not approve of the love affair. It is said that the father saw the two lovers together, realized the relationship and became furious.

That night the father beat his daughter and told her to end the relationship. Maria refused and said that she would rather die. The father then summoned a few of his trusted workers and devised a plan to kill the labourer. Maria heard of her father’s plan and ran to tell her lover. On crossing the road, she was bitten by a snake but driven by love she continued running. Weakened however by the snake bite, she fell to her death from the hill next to the road.

Overcome by the loss of his only daughter, the father decided that he would erect the statue in memory of her. It is said that the apparition, seen running across the highway at night, is Maria trying to reach her lover to warn him that his life is in danger.


 

Photo Credit Jason X Photography
Photo Credit Jason X Photography

I was around seven years old when I first heard the story of the Headless Statue though I’ve forgotten who first related such a story to me. It seemed at the time that everyone who lived in central and south Trinidad knew the story about the statue built in memory of a young woman who had died from a snake bite sometime around the turn of the 20th century. We all knew the story because on a daytime drive from south to north along the ‘new’ Solomon Hochoy Highway, built in 1975, we just had to peer out our car windows searching the rolling hills around Claxton Bay to see if we could spot the decapitated statue. Driving by at night, was a different story. We wouldn’t want to look but did anyway. We couldn’t help looking for her ghost.

For more than a century there have been reports of a girl in white, who walks across the roadway. Legend said that she was looking for her lost lover. Strangely enough, the statue overlooks what many consider the most deadly strip of highway in the country. In the latter half of the 20th century there have been car crash deaths of dozens of people at that very spot. And each time another person dies in that area along the highway, the old folks turn to the ‘lady on the hill’, blaming her again, in what is one of the most enduring stories of supernatural belief in Trinidad and Tobago.

According to the legend, in the year 1909 the young woman, Maria, was the daughter of a Spanish overseer on the Forres Park Sugar Estate and she was in love with an East Indian labourer working on the estate. Maria’s parents, especially her father, did not approve of the love affair. It is said that the father saw the two lovers together, realized the relationship and became furious. That night the father beat his daughter and told her to end the relationship. Maria refused and said that she would rather die. The father then summoned a few of his trusted workers and devised a plan to kill the labourer. Maria heard of her father’s plan and ran to tell her lover. On crossing the road, she was bitten by a snake but driven by love she continued running. Weakened however by the snake bite, she fell to her death from the hill next to the road. Overcome by the loss of his only daughter, the father decided that he would erect the statue in memory of her. It is said that the apparition, seen running across the highway at night, is Maria trying to reach her lover to warn him that his life is in danger.

The estate changed ownership several times over the years but the statue was not interfered with until it was desecrated by a mentally ill woman who claimed it was not responding to the questions she had asked it. In a fit of anger, the story goes, she climbed the pedestal on which it stands and decapitated the statue.

Harry Seedas, a former worker on the Forres Park Sugar Estate (closed almost two decades ago), was the last person to testify about the accuracy of the event. Seedas died many years ago leaving behind the story of a legend that has captivated the minds of many for years.

Information based on Louis Homer’s article in the Trinidad Express, May 25th 2009. 


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