Loving hands hold us together


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Category: Trinidad Society Date: 25 Sep 05


Every year, when the poui bursts with glorious blossoms against the burnt, patchy hills it’s a sign. It’s a sign that asks you to make a choice. Will it be the charred ugliness in our landscape, the self-destruction of fire, or will it be a ballet pink and vibrant yellow waving against a cloudless sky?


We look up. We look down. We weigh heavy destruction against the fragile loveliness of life. We take stock. We decide to go back. We decide to stay. We decide to accept. We decide to change. But whatever we decide, in there is hope, sometimes a timid thing emerging out of human suffering—illness, disappointment, betrayal, death of a loved one. Or bursting with youthful expectation. Or resolute for change.


But wait you say, it’s not that time of year. Where are the burning hills? Where is our tropical spring?


It’s here. Everyday. Because now, every single day we have to confront ugliness, the self-destruction. Every single day we have to be alert, take stock. Can we live with this or not? Can we hope? Can we stay or should we go?


Destruction is not happening in the hills by a careless match or a callous farmer. Instead, its match has been lit by politicians and criminals—we hardly know the difference between them. By politicians who have left half of us illiterate, half of us living below the poverty line, churning out, as one talk show host put it, “voting zombies,” raising food prices, neglecting our infrastructure, neglecting our non-oil sector.


Soon our water supplies will dry up, roads mash up, our electrical and sewer and garbage systems collapse, our industry dissolves.


It’s getting harder to catch a cloud, when a 19-year-old beloved son is snatched, when a 35-year-old father and nephew is wounded and carried off amid blood stains.


Where do we look?


It’s impossible to think of the hope a yellow blossom represents when a National Security Minister, even in the face of a record rate of murders (the second highest in the world for a non-warring country), waves a newspaper about and says, “We are not alone! Murders in the UK, too!” That makes it okay? The Minister either hasn’t done his homework or he thinks we are stupid, or both.


As C4Tap points out, “the difference is that the UK Government is distressed with 1.4 murders per 100,000 persons, but the Trinidad and Tobago Government does not see a problem with 19.9 murders per 100,000 persons.”


It sums up the attitude of this Government and its supporters. People in other places murder, why not us? People in other places kidnap, why not us? People in other countries are illiterate, poor and dependent. Why not us? They never say, “Singapore became a First World country, why not us?” or “Barbados has no oil, only tourism and yet that country is much more developed than we are because they invest in education and health? Why not us?”


When the charred ugliness, bomb threats, blood get too much, where do we look? Not at the Opposition that is splintering, squabbling, instead of banding together so that it can play its role as the nation’s watchdog and act in our interest.


Last week, after a reader reminded me there are loving hands in this country, holding it together, I began to see again what she meant: Don’t look at the Government. Look at our people, at our landscape. Acknowledge why you love this place. Why you’ll have to be shoved out to leave.


Sitting in the golden twilight watching the sun and breeze caress trees and hills, glimpsing a prayer meeting in the savannah early in the morning, seeing an old man carrying his tiny grand-daughter’s lunch kit, I am grateful for our people, the artists, the runners, confident women, purpose-filled businessmen, teachers, doctors, people who care for the vulnerable, the old, the babies, the poor.


In these times, as we take stock everyday, I salute the people of this country.


I see loving hands holding us together. We are the sky, the blossoms.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur