Revenge of the lost souls


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Category: Trinidad Society Date: 09 Dec 99

War has broken out in this country. It carries with it the classic symptoms of brutality towards the weak. The terrified face of an elderly crippled woman looks out from the TV screens, her eyes revealing the full helplessness and horror of seeing her husband being beaten to a pulp and killed.


The block of flats on Vallenton Avenue where cars line up every afternoon to pick up children from a primary school has turned menacing. Behind its electric gate and concrete walls an elderly woman was, unknown to the drivers on her busy street, trying to defend herself from three men with a fire extinguisher. Not only did they ram half of it down her throat but they beat her mercilessly while she choked to death. Another old woman, this time in St Clair - where each home is a fortress - is kicked around, chopped, branded with a hot iron - tortured to death.


A security guard is fatally shot in a volley of bullets. A newspaper gives the story the subtitle of “Hollywood style”, sensationalising it, making heroes of the blood-thirsty bandits who drilled bullets into several security officers. It was not Hollywood. There were no cameras here. They came to kill.


Men, women and children are smashed up like dogs on the highway. I am putting this in the category of crime since the lawless, rage-fuelled driving on the roads by drivers (from policemen to maxi-taxi drivers) is part of the war.


Schoolchildren walk into assembly to hear that the computer donated to them has been stolen, that their school has been vandalised. Children, the easiest target, terrorised.


“It’s just crime”, some say. “You’ve got to factor it into any country. It’s the inevitable fallout of any open market economy where capitalism thrives. Do you see our new buildings, our rising GDP figures, our new investments? Our currency is strong. If the ruble is worthless today its because the Russians are still trying to catch up with the rest of the world. Even China has opened its doors to trade. Nothing wrong with the system.” That’s the voice of the strong. But enter any elderly woman’s house. Note how she has locked herself in. Note how, instead of being able relax with a book or the TV, she anxiously watches her gate. Note how terrified she is to walk in and out of her house. She thinks after reading about another murder, “that could have been me.”


Younger women, and men, think that too. They fear for their parents and children. We fear for the physically weak, the unarmed, the non-violent amongst us. “Take my money. Take my jewelry. Take everything in the house. Take the clothes off my back”, one woman was saying. “Oh God, but do you have to kill too, and beat, and kick and torture too?” I overheard another. “I fear for my mother. The house is alarmed, but they can always get you at the gate.” The fear, note, is not for the car, or her mother’s jewelry, or the key to the house, but for her mother’s life. They’re coming at the elderly, the women, the children, because they’re weak. They’re coming, not for the money, but for blood, to throttle and mutilate. They are angry. I hear everywhere, people nodding their heads helplessly, “And it will get worse, it will get worse, worse, worse.”


There’s a war on all right. They think they want to “rob up” a person for shoes and gold and a fancy car but what they want is revenge. They want revenge against the father who was never there and when he was around, beat them up. Against the mother who had to hustle with other men, have more children for them so they were locked into their house, hungry and neglected.


Revenge against the school, which kicked them out at as children. Revenge against the financially strong who can afford millions to pave the Savannah, but neglect the uneducated battered products of our country - raging, lost, poor men who walk the streets with no skills. Revenge against a country in which no authority looks out for them, saves them from their poverty. OK, you think we’re criminals. Well we’ll be the baddest.


They want revenge for their souls that died because nobody bothered to nurture them. And they never had a real hero apart from the kick ass, karate kicking, gun firing macho man in the cinema who wins because he kills the most people. So they ape the only hero they know. The unreal screen hero. No one to tell them that those actors in the cinema don’t get rich by wielding guns but by working their talent.


No one to tell them they too can make it on their own. They see the financially powerful accepting bribes, paving the Savannah for millions of dollars, while in their area their mother or sister struggles to find an extra dollar for milk for the baby or an aspirin. They’ve never had a hero to tell them that, yes, some financially powerful people got rich by being corrupt and that the money that is supposed to educate,  and give you a start in life is being squandered. But your revenge is misdirected. Most of your victims are retired, or struggling mothers, and fathers who work hard for what they have. They are decent people who sacrifice for their kids, who love their grandchildren, who enjoy simple things in life, who don’t deserve to be ripped apart by your hate.


I wish I could tell them to have hope, both the perpetrators and the victims. How could I, when they aren’t being given any by those in authority who are hostile even to those who legally stage a protest. Still, I say, let’s support the protests. Let’s give people a vent. Let’s encourage a screaming debate about how we are going to fill in the gap between those who have nothing and those with everything. It’s better than open warfare. I tell you there’s a war on, and the victims of this war have nothing to do with it. But the possible victims, you or I or any one of us, can stop the war.


This Christmas, instead of giving out a hamper, let’s feed, clothe and send at least one child to school for a year. Cost you less than your New Year’s dress, or Carnival costume. You can do it through the non-profit charitable organisation KIND (Kids in Need of Direction) - tel: 624-4559. That’s one less lost soul wandering our streets with revenge in their hearts in 10 year’s time.  

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur