Something's rotting in T&T

 

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Category: Trinidad Society Date: 14 Nov 04

 

I have lived in Trinidad long enough for my heart to lurch at the sight of the Northern Range on a plane home after a trip abroad.

 

And marvel, yet again, that this is the only country in the world where you will get an invitation to attend a Hindu Ramayana in a Muslim home where Christians and Hindus have been invited to share in the breaking of the Ramadan fast.

 

I may have joined the Cascadura band of people who don’t intend to leave in a hurry, but perhaps it is because of that, I feel I can openly voice the ennui, the nausea this place produces, because nothing changes.

 

Like some rotting cadaver, it just gets worse. You don’t have to read Naipaul to recognise that this is a small, insular country, which claustrophobically, resolutely looks inwards.

 

It’s as if we are part of the mechanics of an old wind-up clock. Each year, the rituals are the same, the Carnival is the same, the parang is the same, the Divali and Eid and every other celebration are the same.

 

Except it’s not the same. We are a rotting cadaver. Sameness eventually fossilises.

 

The Guardian has been keeping tabs. Our murder rate is at its record high.

 

Men are getting angrier. They are not only killing one another over drug money, but in their bestiality are turning against their own, hacking the mothers of their children to death.

 

The brutishness is apparent everyday on the roads, as cars swerve, cut in, break lights crazily making innocent drivers and pedestrians into dead meat.

 

We know the root of this murderous rage. Ignorance, an education system that has spectacularly failed these people, a non-existent training or job market.

 

Successive governments are as culpable as the slave masters we abhorred, with their crappy education, for stripping an entire generation of people of their humanity, denying them of their potential with their “make work” policies, creating not just the wild student monkeys in the public library who use it to fornicate, rather than read, but also throngs of cold-blooded murderers.

 

They live amongst us—human dogs, who eat, sleep, drink, grab and die. When you leave same alone, it gets worse.

 

So here we have a record year for murders, politicians flinging cups of tea and invectives at one another like the truant schoolboys, openly spatting over the people’s treasury, which they clearly consider their spoils and this, too, conducted in the most terrible, ungrammatical English. (The colonial times at least ensured some standards).

 

Yes, oil keeps us floating, others high in penthouses we haven’t earned honestly. We have multinationals here. We have investors. But this type of globalisation, combined with an utterly useless government has, like a tidal wave, swallowed the vast majority of the population, making hundreds of thousands invisible, voiceless, powerless, covered with the seaweed of neglect.

 

This rhetoric is propped by harsher university statistics—600,000 people can only read newspaper headlines, 250,000 people can’t read and write at all, and each year we churn out 9,000 students who join the absolutely illiterate, and a shocking 500,000 people live below the poverty line.

 

If you look carefully you see the invisible people everyday, the ones who only count once in four years to hoist greedy people to power.

 

A weeping hairdresser summed up the plight of hundreds of thousands for me when she told me how she had to beg, scrape and borrow money for extortionate private healthcare for her daughter who’d had her head cut in an accident, ending her account with the flat statement that “In this country if you don’t have support systems you are less than a dog.”

 

Nothing changes.

 

Shubh Divali, Eid Mubarak, happy band launching and all that jazz!

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur