Violence shapes

 

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Category: Reflections 11 Feb 07

 

I’ve been 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 drops.

 

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” and “white.”

 

Where was 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.

 

The reason 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 children.

 

State of terror

 

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 terror.

 

The bloodstains we thought were restricted to the bad boys with guns and drugs are raining around us.

 

A 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 violence.

 

There is 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.

 

Then there 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 reality.

 

We can’t 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.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur