Searching out the bubble


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Category: Reflections Date: 16 Feb 03

Amidst the slash and dash of daily life, last week in moments of unexpected respite I found myself alone on a rooftop at dusk. The skyís fading light, streaked with orange, was already dotted with familiar shapes of stars.


There was the familiar sense of the rustle of the sea, warm, whipping breeze, the horizon melting into the dark.

Like us all, I needed that.


It had been a typical week in our islands ó the hopeless churning of a rotting wheel, whole cobs rusting and falling: You can see it in peopleís driving ó taxi drivers, young, old, young, poor, women, men, adolescents gliding or hiccupping past, emitting noxious fumes, mouths set up, smiles stuck aggressively claiming the road as if it were the only passport to a measure of control over their lives.

Each one hanging on a rusting cob.


Here, the wealthy businessman sweating over the kidnappings, over his failure to restrain his teenaged children after years of over-indulgence; there, the hustling taxidriver racking his brains to see how he could pay the bills, keeping an eye out for passengers who could rob, even kill him on his beat; here again, a working mother tossing like a pendulum between her sick child and demanding job; there, the unemployable youth who couldnít go to school because he was taking care of the younger siblings while his mother worked and his father disappeared. Now heís liming on the block angry at being turned away from employers and tempted by the beckoning of the pushers.


Everyone trying to make things better for themselves, banging their heads against impossible odds.


The macro picture of stabbings at fetes (not one, but 20 in a single fete over the weekend), the aggression of young men who now kick women who wonít ďwineĒ with them, the careless brutality of road deaths, the wanton drunken driving, the empty response of the Government speaking of terrorism bills when people need to hear about health and jobs and literacy, is reflected in all our inner, private lives.


Some may be more cushioned than others from lifeís random blows ó illnesses, deaths, disappointment. Add poverty, on to that and generalised anxiety belongs to all our people.


So there I was, standing on the roof, when from the green darkness of the back garden of the house next door, a childís laughter rose, followed by bubbles, in profusion, marble-sized, large bubble gum-sized, floating up in uneven curves, randomly rising, circling, reflecting gold, crimson, making light of deep shades, drawing my gaze upwards to Orionís belt, three evenly spaced stars, and suspended from it, a curve of dimmer stars, Orionís Sword.

So this is what it comes to. Dashing and crashing through life, private tribulations in hot, lost islands ballooning with fear and ignorance, in a world making ready for war. But there are always the bubbles. The ones that pop but remain fixed in your memory.


Iím not talking of solid achievements like getting the promotion you want, or buying a new car. Neither am I speaking of the quick moments of astonishment when hope is restored, at the sight of a flaming immortelle or an Afro-Trinidadian instinctively taking a blind East Indian Trini by the hand to cross the road or the wholesome and timeless sight of a woman throwing a bucket of water to clean the front of her premises at dawn.


Iím talking of the ones that leave you floating, without any context, where the world is shut out and you are enclosed floating both with a feeling of permanence and with a sense of sheer luck of having cheated time, of stamping out the million of humdrum, angry, betrayed, disappointed moments we have all had to endure in our lifetimes.


So in one hour, on evening, one day, one week in your bubble you have snatched back all the sense of marvel you know yourself capable of feeling.


Bubbles take place more often than not with someone you love, someone who reminds you of effortless happiness, or of a time when you were very young when all of life was a bubble punctured only occasionally by reality.


We all have one or two bubbles when we were suspended in time that we examine perhaps in solitude in our little sanctuaries. I examined mine now, looking at the Regal star, gleaming blue and white and the heart was lifted. I had to be careful, though, not to examine them too often, or they burst.


Bubbles are very private. There may be one of the memory of an afternoon in a room flooded with gold light streaming in tiny dust particles, and an unforgettable face. There may have been music involved, or an ocean. There may have been an occasion where miraculously disparate pieces of our lives fell smoothly in place and the world was yours for a day.


I humbly examined mine because the worst thing to give into is despair, whether itís over a country or over oneís circumstances. And the Beetle Juice, a large dying star with a diametre 800 times larger than our sun, gleamed back. A bubble or two lazily floated about.

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur