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People’s Bowel Movement
Y’Boy on a beach in Barbados, watching Facebook pictures of South Quay flood out like the Orinoco Delta and the new Port-of-Spain Retention Pond, also called, “Lake Savannah,” and Y’Boy wondering if all of Trinidad pull deep on the ganja Jack Warner swear was on the Prime Minister’ windowsill.
What you could say about, or to, a people that, for the half-century since the British abandon we to we own devices, never fix nothing except they own pocket? Since Independence, Trinis doing whatever the Hell they want and firetruck away with anybody who raise an eyebrow or a warning finger.
Between the people who supposed to be the leaders of the society, who cut away more mountains every year, to build mausoleum mansions, and the pigeon peas entrepreneurs, Port-of-Spain’s mountainsides, which used to slow down the rainwater, now, concrete or bare dirt, rapidly accelerate it. Five minutes of rain in St Ann’s/Cascade and the Savannah roadway is reduced to one lane at the top of Cipriani Blvd. Add a rising tide to rain falling and all of Town know the water taxi to Sando could pick them up in the Croisee and that the line of cars at a standstill between Kapok and Kirpalani roundabouts will occasionally actually be submerged.
And, every year, for the 53 years Trinidad & Tobago responsible for itself, everything gets worse, from traffic jam through flood to governments—all the natural and unnatural disasters plaguing the place.
Y’Boy sitting on Pebbles Beach, watching the sun go down on him and the West Indies, and hearing David Rudder flinging his soul, not on a reel of tape in a sterile studio, but pelting it large with no restriction to a national stadium and a whole firetrucking nation that can listen over-and-over without ever once hearing: “How do you tell a nation its head is bloody/Short of beating it over the head?” Y’Boy want to beat he own head, or somebody else one, or just beat something hard, either bobolee or rum. Come fast, Single Barrel Reserve, before Y’Boy start to look for a double-barrel solution.
And Y’Boy study that what he should beat now might be a retreat.
And Y’Boy chuckling to heself becaw hear David chanting in he ears like a madman now, as Y’Boy iPod shuffle to a next live album track: This is it, this is it, this is it/ I’ve been hit/ But no time to give up, Brother/ No time to quit.
The sun almost gone and Y’Boy still don’t know where to go and what to do with this Trinidad and these West Indies. Darkness Visible, A Memoir of Mandness is the name of a slim book Y’Boy now read, by William Styron, the Sophie’s Choice fella. On the back of the book, quotes from Newsweek and the Chicago Sun-Times blend to describe Trinidad today: “As short as a hangman’s rope and nearly as arresting… a chilling report from a mental wilderness into which one in ten Americans disappear.” And Y’Boy studying how, in Trinidad, the ratio got to be higher. This is not a fete in here.
The surest sign of insanity, according to the bumper sticker, is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Y’Boy recall the story about the woman complaining to her friends about a stupid dog who dig up the same rose bush 30 times. And all her friends fall silent, except for one, who voice what everybody else thinking: “I’m not so worried about the dog—but who replanted the bush that many times?”
On Monday, Reggie Dumas and Michael Harris, two of Trinidad’s few independent people, and a handful of others who might care more about the place than their advancement in it, launched RESETT 1962, and bent over backwards to explain they were a civic group, aligned to no one, but seeking the national interest; before the ink was dry on their statement, the paid sycophant-bloggers—the lowest form of apologist, who genuinely don’t realise they are partisan—were labelling them apologists.
And Y’Boy think about the Death March, spearheaded by Stephen Cadiz—now perhaps the most dyed-in-the-cane UNC MP—which all of Trinidad dismissed effortlessly, thoughtlessly, as “a white people thing.” And how all of Trinidad and Tobago dismissed the bloody 1990 coup as a squabble between Abu Bakr and ANR.
And Y’Boy remember then T&T PM Eric Williams’ sublimation of the tragedy of the collapse of the West Indian Federation in 1962 into schoolboy comedy when, pulling Trinidad & Tobago out after Jamaica left, he said, “One from ten leaves nought”. And Y’Boy know that, if Trinidad had to account to Barbados and St Kitts for how Federation money was spent, Jack Warner could never have taken US$1M from the Treasury to do a US$5K job. And Y’boy understand how easily Trinidadians slip through their own wisecracks, how a people desperately in search of a national movement can find only a bowel one. Trinis reach for the stars and grasp gobar.
And Y’Boy remember Earl Lovelace’s book, Salt, which ask the first question any place with our history had to ask, and the last one the Trinidadian will ponder, because he ‘fraid the answer will incriminate him: “Four hundred years,” wrote Earl, “it take them to find out you can’t keep people in captivity…But now they had another problem: it was not how to keep people in captivity. It was how to set people at liberty.”
If you don’t extricate yourself from it, you will always be in the shiretrit.
BC Pires is fiddling with his typewriter while Port-of-Spain floods but exhorting others to help RESETT 1962
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