The Return of the Concerned Cedrosian
This letter from my old friend, CC, came by pirogue and water-taxi on August 31, 2012. It is exactly as CC wrote it except for the removal of some salty expressions. There may be some interest in the random observations of a landlocked sea-dog. (KR)
Ah Boy, Keneff
Like is really true. When you big you gross. That is the way of the politician, and now it is your way. Week after week the silver-grey car vooming past the old house, week after week you bleaching on the jetty, burning your bottom black as Miss Edna tired say. She complaining really, but you take it as joke. Up to now you don’t learn that old people need people to talk with them. You passing the old house straight, with the glass up and the tint so dark like a guilty hearse.
You will find out. Old people cant live on a shout from the neighbour who calling out from the road only to make sure that you ain’t dead in your bed or stretch out stiff on the floor. It have no cure for being in the world. But try and imagine nuh, old people especially need family and friend to spend time with them so they wouldn’t feel so frighten and alone till they mind scatter.
I not making any sympathy move, I not as badly off as that. Not yet anyway. Frieda here again, she come back for herself two weeks after she leave. The episode take me by surprise but I cant find it in my heart to blame or reproach. She have a right. Man could torment woman and don’t even know what they doing till they get a shock. As for me, I holding on. I living over the pleasure and the perpetual newness of the books I love, including the books you show me, or lend me and I never return.
For the daily pain, I read through every page of the first newspaper that reach down here. Sentinel, Crack Glass or Fast Train, it make no difference. One tablet is a good enough dose. All of them bound and blige to make sure not to cross-thread with the Government, or the owners, or the advertisers and them. The rule to obey is this: People and Pardners who have power or money, what they do, that is the only news; and the photos to take is party, banquet, function and parade. A man write a book about how, under the old regime, the papers collude with the powers that be and bend our mind. Now I say, as Walcott done say, in them swaddling cerements we still bound.
I know if I vex I loss. Papa Diable cant catch me with his games. Most times I sit in the sad gallery looking over the seawall to the rigs that plant out in the salt water. Gone are the great Cedars that gave the peninsula its name. My whole life, all I want is happiness and I realize that if I tell anybody they will ask me what happiness is, what I talking about. Kenos, I not big like you and I not afraid of my feelings. I miss you. Every Saturday when I look out I looking out for you. Them was happy days. In 1962, you and I know what Doctor Columbus and them start to do.
The beast is streaming in the soul of Bethlehem. All the things the writers say and you putting on the blogs, you wasting your time, you think people want to think? Presumption and vanity. Everybody is a leader of thought and patriotic talk, everybody looking to see if you mention them when you write, everybody is a guerrilla hustling for their self.
You feel you smart and ironic quoting what Mr Carlisle Chang say about the national flag that he self design. Who ever care what any old artist say? Take a side, man. Come to the Party. Join a gang. Let people know what side you on and who it is you come to attack. If you find out you wrong, be strong. You don’t remember the Lamming book where a character announce that he just discover this world is a world of camps and you better find your camp fast and eat a food there?
Why you don’t celebrate the fifty years by coming and spend the Jubilee weekend with Frieda and me? Last week, a short feller with a white cap tie down on his head stand up on the jetty and catch salmon, laray, big catfish and a whole set of sprats. You could come, and when the sandfly hour reach and you wrap up the lines, we could chase babash with coconut water till Frieda mumble we keeping her from her sleep. Since she come back from her search for El Dorado with Cyrus and the shining V8 Pilot ( I choose to believe it when she say “I change my mind before he get chance to touch me anywhere”), things going nice with us.
Stay in town and celebrate fifty years of what? We is the only country in the world with free education ( primary, secondary and tertiary too) but what is the purpose of this education, what kind of belief and ambition we encouraging young people to have, what kind of person we helping them to be, what is the success we pushing them to crave? Success killing people.
The thing start bad. On May 31, 1962 Federation departed this life. On August 31, 1962 the Union Jack lower and the flag of Trinidad and Tobago raise. Just so. The corpse of the Federation was still warm. By that time (since 1959), the father of the nation had already get his wish for Cabinet rule, and he twist the Westminster model to make sure that Prime Minister is monarch of all, more powerful than the Governor of colonial times. Nobody who follow him want to change that.
We didn’t carry out any struggle for Independence that could have burnish us as a nation. And we never see Independence as freedom to create. The vanguard who sacrifice in the 1930’s and 1940’s get jail and ridicule to the final bell. They was the fathers and mothers of what could have been a new nation. When enough time pass and they safely dead you will see, all of them getting posthumous award. Once universal suffrage came, Lloyd Best’s “unresponsible elite” take over, they pay back the underdeveloped masses with universal suffering, and they abolish from history the dreaming men and women who stand up to capitalism and British rule in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Then they abolish the nation and mount in its place a golden idol called the political party.
Fifty years of bread and circuses. Beauty pageant and Shaquille O’Neal. Everybody compiling lists of the achievers of the nation. Everybody choosing the best fifty. In truth, I don’t think any country have so much self-propelling genius and so many individuals who do so much good without constructive help from the political powers. So many unsung and unspectacular heroes too. I proud and glad. But it not adding up. Plenty people but not a people (Lovelace).
How come the nation never learn to grow as a nation from all its peoples and from its individual talents?
And how come the money and the success not giving the happiness we stop longing for?