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The storm that never comes
Drying up in conversation, you will be the one who cannot talk
All your insides fall to pieces, you just sit there wishing you could still make love
They’re the ones who’ll hate you when you think you’ve got the world all sussed out
They’re the ones who’ll spit at you, you will be the one screaming out
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
—High and Dry, Radiohead
They say a storm is coming. Another one. Not quite a hurricane but big enough and scary enough to send Trinbagonians scampering for cover. I’m reading the weather forecasts from a distance. I can hear the thunder from Babylondon where the rain whispers but the cold is loud and insistently finding a way into the minute space in your scarf.
What happens when this storm comes? You start to go through the inventory of friends and loved ones, imagining everyone home and safe and not stuck in the gridlock images of traffic. A storm is coming because it’s that time of the year and storms come to countries in the hurricane belt.
Whether or not the storm comes, we are still not ready for rain. We still act surprised and slightly hysterical when a weather system looms. As if God is out for us. And maybe Huaracan really is doing a big dance in the sky vexed that the government still gives no respect and honour to this country’s indigenous ancestors. The storm is coming and whether or not we are prepared for its arrival.
Whether or not the storm comes, it is never guaranteed to change our attitudes to nature and our place in it. And two and half years of change have come and gone and it still floods after ten minutes of rain in Port-of-Spain, in the same way that people’s houses look like J’Ouvert morning in a mud mas band, especially when they are in the foothills of denuded mountains.
And I wonder if two and a half years from now the Minister of National Security’s brilliant super-secret crime plan will be as much of a success. There are so many storms coming that we are still not prepared for. The storms that are decades in the making. That we brew with our indifference and lack of commitment and selfishness.
Coming storms of young crackheads climbing through balcony windows and beating up old ladies who have nothing but shaking hands. Coming storms of planassing rich boys who get separated from the general population of the prison. The hapless acceptance of reality and the disempowerment of thinking that you can’t make a difference is baffling.
We’re always waiting for the storm to come. The storm that never comes is the rage of a nation that has had enough. The storm that never comes is a country rising up against the uselessness of leaders who say one thing one day and then change their minds the next.
The storm that never comes is the one that will mash up all the wickedness hanging over the country like the perfect cumulo-nimbus clouds you learned to draw in geography class. These sorts of storms never come. Clouds appear and threaten but like the hurricanes that pass by, giving us the barest suggestion of their severity, we never have the kind of massive weather systems that we need to knock everything flat so that we can pick up the pieces and start again.
Thunder and lightning shake us like Shango self. And our fear is permanent. But God is a Trini. And even the floods subside and we forget the pain of seeing your car swim down your street. We forget all the pain and the suffering and go back to skinning our teeth at the nightly bacchanal of Parliament.
The storms we need to brew never come. They never come and we are okay with that. I mean who likes storms anyway? They are bothersome and messy. Kind of like running a country. The perfect storm for Trinidad has no well-formed cumulo-nimbus clouds. No low rumbling thunder and winds that howl and make galvanise dance like flags in a soca fete.
The perfect storm is the mass of people gathering in public spaces. The perfect storm is us blowing away those people and institutions that do not serve us. Mash them up fine like chilibibbi. Get rid of them in the perfect storm of democratic assertions. No statistics, no threats against the police or the people or the media by leaders to whom the attribution of moral authority is jokey at best. The perfect storm is one of our own brewing. If we dared.
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