having a recurring dream these past 13 years. A dark living room with
curtains drawn against the scorching light. A white ceiling. At first there
is just the one drop of red, a dot. It spreads out like a child’s drawing of
a circle, unevenly, until the ceiling is red and we are running from red
Dreams are a
reflection of our lives. The news story of the event that is imbedded in our
collective national psyche went like this: On July 11, 1994, housewives
Candace Scott and Karen Sa Gomes were murdered at Scott’s home in
Westmoorings. The women were attacked by two men, who raped them, along with
the maid, in the presence of their children. The women were stabbed and left
for dead. A number of household items were stolen and the perpetrators
escaped in a car belonging to one of the women.
At the time
there was a huge protest at the attention these murders got from some
quarters alleging that the media only cared because the victims were “rich”
the outrage, people asked, when night after night young boys got shot in
Laventille? It was a trick question with no correct answer because it showed
up how carved up we are, economically, racially, politically as a country.
It was a question of perspective.
it haunted me, as I suspect it did many women irrespective of race or
economic background, was the brutality with which a quiet domesticity, an
afternoon on a regular weekday could be shattered.
It made us
all feel horribly vulnerable. When boys or men, bandits, or kidnappers are
shooting at one another we can say it has nothing to do with us, collect our
children from school and shut it out like a mini tremor that sent us running
under tables for two minutes but then its over.
The stain on
the ceiling has been spreading, its blood made up increasingly of women and
In the past
few weeks in separate incidents a 14-year-old girl looked on as her father,
a kidnap victim, was shot dead before he was able to testify; a kidnapped
woman spoke of her shattered life; a female police officer was shot dead;
two children played in their aged murdered grandparents’ blood; two toddlers
were shot in crossfire between police and bad boys; tots in Couva had a gun
pointed to their heads while a frightened mother looked on in her home; and
businesswoman Vindra Naipaul’s disappearance remains an open blank state of
bloodstains we thought were restricted to the bad boys with guns and drugs
are raining around us.
15-year-old child returned last week from a public speaking class with too
much reality in his head. He heard another boy speak of the phone call that
led him to a flat where his sister was found strangled. He heard a mother
weep over her 14-year-old daughter who was raped. Our children are shaped by
life about us. I saw a beautiful girl, at the hair salon, getting ready for
her wedding today; a man sitting on the pavement singing an old calypso with
drink and roti in hand; a girl signing up for a costume; a young man driving
to work, music blaring; and we gape at the pull of this country with its the
endless play of light, shade, breeze, throwing leaves at swaying bamboo, a
ballad between trees.
is this dream. It is no longer a nightmare. Because a nightmare is something
from which you awake, gratefully taking in the comfort from a warm hopeful
forget the dark anymore. The stain on the ceiling is spreading. The tremors
are turning into earthquakes; isolated menacing footsteps at us have turned
into a stampede.
There is no longer any distance between
ourselves and the story in the news that drips from a spreading bloodstain
from the ceiling while children watch and fall.