strains of an old Christmas carol escape out of a radio somewhere as a
family assembles a tree. By the time the final bauble is put on, with tiny
blinking lights, darkness grabs at the day. This time of the year the
night swallows our customary languid orange and pink twilights, carrying
cool breezes from the sea onto our faces.
abrupt darkness is a signal, as if in a theatre, to look at the show, to
look around at the lights on top of trees and buildings and verandas. To
look up at the silver slice of the moon. To look down at the yellow car
and lamp lights reflecting off gleaming wet roads. To see the rain, light
as mist blurring the hills and trees abstract painting.
is looking. So there you are. Alone. Raw. Stripped. Just you and the moon
and the multicoloured lights, the flash of emerald bush, of red
poinsettia, rain, light as mist, a timeless moment, hollowing you out. You
are the show.
space in your head normally reserved for the non-stop lists we do now
ticking them off, “tree, presents, food, people, lights, drinks, jobs,
children, logistics, relationships, cards, decorations” emptied out.
emotions thrash about in the little hollow normally occupied with the
unforgiving harsh light of our tropical lives, the reckless driving,
everyday body bags, loud sexy music, bad time keeping, littering,
navigating through jobs, relationships, turning a dollar, the crazy crime,
politics also our dappling sunlight, the shoving bustle in our streets.
dusk in December cradling us with a collective gentle cheer forces us to
be still. To confront the debris the tide washes up around us. To shed our
masks, of businessmen, CEOs diplomats, pubic figures, salesgirls,
in the rain, raw in December we have stripped. Slipped off our masks.
are swimming naked in silky water stopping to look at our debris. Everyone
feels the same in the water, regardless of the house they own, the car
they drive, the people they look down on, the numerous ways people use to
feel good about themselves.
debris could be a confrontation with time, a wondering sense of loss.
did the decades vanish, when did the atrophy start, where did that
laughing light in my friend’s eyes go? The more time we spend on earth
the more there is to mourn, the more people go away, die, change.
I think of children, of the enormous space they take up in our lives. I
hear a jolly Christmas carol. There is something else What?
The charity concert I went to earlier this week for the organisation Pour
l’Innocent, which has been keeping children with HIV/aids alive and
healthy for years in Trinidad. The concert was held in Blue Range, at
someone’s home, overlooking a valley, blinking with lights, where
professional singers rustled in silks of jewel colours on a veranda, where
a priest dressed to the nines belted out an Irish carol, where people’s
eyes streamed with tears at the loveliness of human voices.
that gracious home, which made you think of one of the Camp Campins cards
of colonial times, of wine being drunk without burglar proof under
chandeliers, a woman stood and spoke of the sick, needy children around
us. At that moment the shacks in the valley and hills opened their doors
to us. There are real people in there. Old forgotten people, young
neglected children, poor undirected teenagers waiting to be seen to.
That’s the pearl the tides always bring amidst the debris of loss. The
balm of giving back. Everything passes but reaching out endures, and
endures and endures.