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Dreaming of J’ouvert
Dem say we mad and we bad
I telling you
Where I from?
I from Trinidad and Tobago
Ise a Trini
Ise a Trini
Proud proud Trini
See me ya. Weeping at the sight of a music truck, all loaded with speakers in preparation for the greatest show on Earth. Look, the truth is, I’ve had a dread J’Ouvert tabanca since Monday. My heart’s torn in two because on one hand I want it to be J’Ouvert right now. But from the time it starts, it will be almost over.
And then I will have to wait another 364 days for it to be J’Ouvert again. It’s just not fair. I wish there was a way for me to extract the essence of J’Ouvert so that it stays much longer than the time it’s actually here. I wish there was a way for me to feel no compunction about walking around in my panty all year around.
This nervous anticipation is the sweetest pain, like when the doubles vendor’s hand slips and you end up with medium rather than slight pepper. But you eat it anyway because the burn is part of the experience. Trinidad makes your mouth burn for days. You could walk around saying “sssstt” to yourself for how this place stays on your tongue like a stinging reminder. The mango sweetness makes the burn alright. J’Ouvert is the reassurance of mango sweetness in too hot doubles Trinidad. See me ya. Trying my best to run around screaming at random people in the street, “is Caneeevaaalllll!” for no reason in particular. The truth is, I haven’t slept for weeks. Who can sleep when you’re dreaming of J’Ouvert?
Oh, the ridiculous obscenity of it all. Trinidad is a mad mad place and while I should be disturbed that this makes sense, I’m not. Really. This is the happiest sad place. The sanest mad place on Earth and that’s actually okay. But that is a lie. But I can tell myself lies on a Carnival weekend. I can believe any version of unreality and be okay with that. Because reason is not necessary on J’Ouvert morning. Neither is decency. Or coherent thought. And all these are natural states in this country. Right now I am putting aside reason and all my other Trinidad nightmares. I am staying awake so that I won’t be haunted by J’Ouvert nightmares.
Suppose something goes wrong? Suppose some imps try to interfere with my J’Ouvert bliss?
See me ya, falling in love with Trinidad again. These two days mean so much to this on again, off again, confusing, frustrating, beautiful love affair. Do you know what Carnival means? No, seriously. I’m not even sure I fully understand why my heart is skipping several beats. See me ya. Poised and ready to go. Waiting not so patiently for the darkest moment before dawn to find myself. I have not spent a small fortune on fetes. I have no intention of putting on somebody else’s version of who I should become in my moments of freedom.
Stolen from bandits who make us hide behind walls and barbed wire while they roam our streets. It makes no sense, this J’Ouvert feeling just under my skin. Doing inexplicable things to my insides. I feel as if I might bleed mud if you cut me. I feel I might grow my own tail. It’s going all Black Swan up in here, except my dance is in the base of my spine rather than the tips of my toes. It’s like first time again. Not that I can remember the moment I fell in love with this thing called Carnival. I feel Mr Uncle Minsh was involved somehow. It is a sometimes startling realisation. That Ise a Trini. Not proud proud all the time. Truly a lot of the times I feel a crushing embarrassment.
Like, how could we be so perfectly amazing but act so consistently mediocre? That is why Carnival must be perfect. That is why J’Ouvert must be the most unattainable beauty and bliss. A Trinidad life without J’Ouvert is a nightmare far worse than change that is more of the same. Far more terrible than falling gas prices and rising murder rates. A Trinidad without Carnival is a Trinidad that I could not possibly keep loving.
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