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Pressure In The West
When you see the band come down
Flowing all over the town
Bussing like a Wasa line
Full pressure when we start to wine
The agony of flooding. The ecstasy of the first Olympic gold medal in 36 years. In one day, like any other in Trinidad, we experience the extremes. In the midst of the celebrations, I get a sense of a terrified people. The pictures are from some apocalyptic horror movie and the brown wall of water has a face and a personality. The brown wall of water has a feeling and it is anger.
In the midst of the jubilation comes a name most of us haven’t committed to our consciousness yet. In the midst of the mud left behind and the empty promises of ridding the country of flooding that are floating in someone’s inundated living room, Keshorn’s miraculous javelin throw is happening. In Babylondon a spontaneous party is erupting and I have a moment of conflict and I start to go through my friends in the West data, hoping that none of them have been affected. Hoping that the damage is minimal.
But it isn’t. It is bad. The angry wall of water does some damage. The angry wall of water brown with the blood of our raped and naked hills destroys everything in its path and then some. I am hoping that it is not as bad as it looks. I am hoping this is another example of Trinis’ fond relationship with hyperbole. The comments suggest that it is as bad as it looks.
But before I have a chance to despair, before I have a chance to get blasted vex that Jack Warner actually had the temerity to say that the flooding was an act of God, Trinis gave me reason to pause. I saw people start commenting about the neighbours who came to help. About the woman down the road who made a pot of pelau. I saw people offer their homes as collection points for relief supplies. I saw big pots of soup and I saw hearts opening to the possibility that we can actually help ourselves.
I’m not sure if I am being overly optimistic here, but it made me happy to see people so openly willing to help. The cynic in me wonders how much of it has to do with the conspicuousness of helping in the view of all your friends, who can like your photos of you being a good citizen. The damage is not the focus. What happens after is what matters. How we treat each other in the aftermath of a disaster is the true test of citizenship.
I wish the energy of last weekend could be carried into other things. Like I wish we could get together and replant the hills. Take them back from the people who destroy them. I wish we could take our streets back from the criminals. I wish we could take our country back from the soul-sucking nature of this government.
And in the aftermath of the floods, they call a holiday to throw a fete, dragging us back down into a morass of distractions. Giving us a fete for the problems at hand so that they can look as if they’re doing something for the country. The flood is an act of clearing mountains and taking away mangroves. The flood is an act of unchecked planning. The flood is an act of us humans who just don’t get that our actions have consequences that directly affect us.
The flood is an act of neglect that is 50 years in the making. The flood is an act of contempt on the part of the successive governments and callous land developers and doh-care squatters. Our response is the real act of God. How we treat each other is an act of God. The flood is the catalyst we might need to start to confront our selfishness, our lack of community, our fear of each other. The flood should be the thing that separates us from dotish leadership. That cuts us off from those who do not have our best interests at heart.
Finally some of us are starting to see the connection between ourselves and our the environment. Finally we should start seeing that promises without action lead to death. And do the necessary to protect our lives from those who should know better than to invoke deities to explain their own incompetence.
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