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Category: Trinidad Society Date: 18 Nov 01


Who needs intellectual stimulation if you can be entertained?

 

When a bright, popular, wealthy professional like Tim Gopeesingh a superb medical practioner, (his wall to wall certificates demonstrate a rigorous perusal of his profession) is seen with handcuffs, you canít help but feel a pang over the waste, of this manís intellect, charisma, ambition.

 

I hope his name is cleared for the sake of our country because if it isnít then we will know that the rot has gone too deep.

 

We are not too surprised by the others, Dhanraj, and doctors walking into court with a sheepish bravado - they appear to be the sort of men Naipaul parodies endlessly. I may be pilloried for this but I believe the Tim Gopeesinghs of this world are victims of the limitations of the society in which we move.

 

They make money, are professionally driven and successful, have access to cocktail and political parties. Then what? Where do they go? Where do they vent their intelligence in a society that is limited to two things that chew, spit and feed off one another like an endless round of cud. They are 1. Money. 2.Popularity/Power.

 

Money seems to crave popularity, and its first cousin, power, and the object of the second seems to

return to wanting more wealth. The result is corruption. And worse, all life in between, introspection, curiosity about themselves and the world around them, empathy is swallowed up in a fog.

 

The process is conducted at great cost to the players. In public, they climb ladders, say the right things to people who are in a position to push them up a notch, crowd around people in positions of power like so many obsequious court jesters. They are usually ostentatiously religious, self righteous, self sacrificing, so perfect that you can hardly believe they are human.

 

Having a double life doesnít allow us the freedom to be honest with ourselves. We fall out of touch with who we really are. We are in strait jackets publicly, afraid to acknowledge our weakness. Our private lives because human weaknesses will, when repressed, turn into poison. Better to be outrageous but yourself, real, in public.

 

A relative of VS Naipaul who grew up in Nepaul Street said even now, when he visits Trinidad, he is happy to talk to ordinary people who are not trying to be what they are not, gardeners, vendors, taxi drivers. She said: ďItís the Valsayn types, who are affected, superficial, bent on climbing the social ladder with their bags of money, at the expense of being true to themselves or afraid of looking too deeply, and analysing the world in which they live including its poverty and ignorance, that he canít bear.Ē

 

In this context this relative of Naipaul wondered at the relentless and limited quest for money and power by doctors now being examined for fraud. How could they in positions of power, comfortably off, looking at the suffering, poverty, and wretched circumstances of people wanting to use hospital facilities, even think of siphoning off funds for themselves?

 

VS Naipaulís loathing is/was not so much for people who hadnít the opportunity to pronounce words properly but for those who had, and do, and donít give a damn about it or anything else except for money and power. If Tim Gopeesingh lived in a society where language was important, considered a passport to articulating ones own soul, the intellect encouraged, people read for the sake of reading, where we lived in the huge context of a complex ever interesting world, then perhaps it would have opened up other worlds for him, given his talent a vent.

 

Even if Naipaul didnít achieve the acclaim as the finest living writer in English, his Knighthood or the Nobel, he was even at 17 or 18, rebelling against the limitations of a one dimensional life which destroys the soul because it is fake.

 

Instead, Naipaul wrote about the aspirations of many people, of sewers and poverty, absurdity and corruption of many continents. It was his way of engaging with the world. It could not have been easy reflecting or writing on this. It is certainly not the same as reading ďHow to make a million bucks in ten days,Ē or ďHow to manipulate and influence people.Ē

 

Self help books like that only harden the walls around our core, around the immeasurable worth of the gift of a free spirit that comes from looking deep inside ourselves.

 

I hope the rot is not malignant, that itís not too late to be sufficiently courageous to face ourselves and begin surgery on the rot within us.

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur