By: Olivia Kona
Devi Di Guida felt an urgency to self-publish her first novel, The Cayman Hustle, for her husband Joe’s 60th birthday this fall. The project became a family effort as everyone rushed against time.
“It was touch and go,” Devi said. “I started to tell Joe stories about our family life. I wasn’t sleeping during this time. I was afraid to close my eyes in case he wouldn’t be there when I woke up so I took that energy and redirected it into writing. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.”
Her book was written during the countless hours she spent in the hospital while Joe was undergoing chemo for pancreatic cancer.
“I wanted it to be from a multicultural point of view, it hasn’t really been looked at. What happens to couples in mixed marriages? What choices do they make? How do they benefit from the mixture of traditions?” she said.
Her own children are a blend of four cultures: Italian on their father’s side and a mix of three cultures on their mother’s — European, East Indian and Arawak, which are the first Indians in South America. Some of her children’s social struggles as a visible minority are fictionalized in her book.
“The one who is very dark was treated differently from the one who is very fair so they had their own stories to tell as little kids,” she said.
Devi, a technical writer for 16 years at her husband’s company, Plasticor, grew up in Guyana without electricity or running water. As a young girl, she walked two blocks each way for drinking and cooking water and carried it home in buckets every day after school.
“We had fun. Halfway, we would stop and play marbles made from baby coconuts in the sand,” she said.
Her husband once told her that she always woke up with a smile. With a resilient inner strength, Devi lives by her favorite proverb — A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
“I’m one of those people who got up and was happy. No matter what. It’s mind over matter”, she said. “I shut things out temporarily, but when I do think about something, I do it very strongly.”
Devi Di Guida’s book, The Cayman Hustle, is dedicated to her husband and children and in memory of Wesley Bauer, her son’s friend who was killed in Kirkland in 2001.
All proceeds from the sale of her book will be donated to cancer research in Canada and foundations that fit deaf children with hearing devices in underdeveloped countries to “make their world a better place”.