is an e-mail I received following last week’s column when I suggested
compromise as a way out of the current stand-off between the Prime
Minister and the President.
the hell don’t you go back where you came from? Pity you weren’t there
during the earthquake! Can’t believe ONLY 13,000 died!” (The person
revealed their identity but I am withholding it).
they didn’t like the fact that I said the President has once before put
country before self and should once again do the right thing; that the
Opposition leader must follow his first instinct and be a gentleman in the
face of his defeat; or that the Prime Minister was polite in his personal
dealings with the President for weeks after his Excellency’s refusal to
appoint seven Government Senators.
PM’s address in Parliament was thunderous, but for God’s sake, what do
you expect from a Prime Minister who, a month and a half after leading his
party to victory, was being treated like little more than a puppet by the
President, and unconstitutionally at that?
was an e-mail I would normally delete, empty trash and forget. It is my
belief that when people are vindictive, racist and angry with other people
it’s always because they are unhappy with themselves. Too insecure, too
frightened of other people to convert their ignorance into understanding.
as the days wore on, it came back to niggle at me for several reasons. A
little of it had to do with the fact that it was hurtful, when you have
lived in, worked in, had children, delight in, participate in, are
continually absorbed by the country you have come to love and consider
home, to be told to ‘go back’.
course, my roots are Indian. I was born there and I would be lying and
without character if I didn’t have strong patriotic feelings for my
it doesn’t preclude my love and patriotism for my adopted country. My
husband of Indian decent is so patriotic he has a map of Trinidad and
Tobago tattooed on his body. He felt so alien during his sojourn in India,
not understanding the language, finding the food too spicy, the culture
unfamiliar, that he wanted to come home to T&T within 24 hours.
heard similar stories by Trinis of African descent who couldn’t wait to
come home to their doubles and dumplings, their picong and pan, which has
nothing to do with Africa.
children were born here. To deny my citizenship and allegiance to this
country would be to cut myself off from my own flesh and blood.
again, we’ve all come to this new world from somewhere, in the last few
hundred years - Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe. Having a sense of
history, of where we came from, gives us our sense of self. It is
essential to allow our still tender shoots to take root, to interbreed if
we want, to create a multi-continental landscape in our little backyard.
statement niggled not so much because of the personal insult to me
(writing is like cooking, if you can’t take the heat get out of the
kitchen), but because of what it said about the state of our country:
Among us, there are people like my poison-pen writer who are prepared to
hate someone, wish them dead because of a difference of opinion and
because of their race.
many countries in the new world, we are an interwoven people. Like it or
not, whatever fabric we have created for ourselves, descendants of
masters, adventurers, slaves, indentured labourers, we have knitted
jointly - plain and purl, calypso and chutney, doubles and dumplings,
cricket and picong, Indian and African, China and Europe, Middle East and
Philippines. If one thread sees itself as the dominant culture and wants
the others out the entire thing will unravel into an ugly knot. To cut
threads off would be like cutting off our own hands and necks and feet.
hurt me, because how could anyone be glad that 11,000 (as I write 100,000)
are feared dead in an earthquake in India, that 200,000 more are trapped,
that 500,000 are homeless, that children and mothers and grandmothers and
sons and husbands and friends and parents are separated, frightened,
suffocating slowly to death; that people are burning their dead in
alleyways, that unclaimed bodies are being claimed by animals.
commonality of the human spirit runs deep. The crackling of air between
peoples - that invisible pulsating life-vein of laughter and music, of
celebration, of shared grief and love and discovery, remains. Even when it
goes, the collective memory of that remains and our children carry it on.
our knitted world - despite the politics, despite the men who will
cheerfully sacrifice us all to maintain personal power. Skip the hate,
purl, skip the politics, plain, and so we keep on knitting the landscape
of our new world, we will not unravel, despite them.