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Dire straits of intolerance
Are you feeling the feelings baby?
Are you getting the symptoms honey?
Are you feeling the feelings baby
Are you getting the symptoms?
Feeling the Feelings,
It could make you more sick than that point in the Bocas when you're on the way to Tobago and the sea starts to do a big dance of confrontation. It is the best indication of the relationship between the two islands and the Caribbean as a whole - turbulent and incompatible. Different waters fighting for supremacy. For the right to make the bigger waves.
You are caught in the middle. With your belly in your hand and the Gravol that you took in the back of your throat. Threatening to reduce you to one of those undignified heaving and moaning people in the bathroom. Like a novice. Like you never took a boat in your life. But your body does what it has to do. That reaction is the truth.
It is not disimilar to the reaction I have any time I turn on the news. Any time they have any soundbites from one of the passengers that came on the Ship of Fools from the far-off land of Political Dinosaurs. Trinbago politicians make me want to vomit more than the Bocas. They have a way of churning up all your emotions with all the unpleasantness of an angry sea. Talking like it's vomit that they can’t control.
Talking like he can say whatever comes to his mind because politicians have a right to do that. Without any forethought or analysis or reflection on how your own party might have contributed to the present situation. If you believed the hype of political meetings you would think that there as nothing happening in this country aside from random acts of bacchanal.
The Ship of Fools did not originate in Calcutta. The Ship of Fools didn't pass through the Ivory Coast. The Ship of Fools was not captained by sea-faring European bandits. The Ship of Fools was born in the dire straits between Trinidad and Tobago. The passengers who came on the Ship of Fools don't understand the real trauma of those crossings that haunt us to the point where so many island people still don't know how to swim properly.
This man doesn't understand that all the stories of our mythology say that the enslaved flew back to Africa. They didn't take a boat. The trauma of the sea being too much for them to bear. The bones of unburied ancestors wailing in the crash of waves on shores that still do not belong to us. This man knows nothing of the depths of the kala pani and leaving a land to which you can never return.
His trauma is so deep he doesn't even understand the weight of his words. He believes an offhand apology to be enough. The responses to his stupidity are as ridiculous. The responses betray a similar lack of sensitivity. A similar lack of understanding of the abyss of intolerance the country is staring into right now.
But political meetings have become the spaces where we say the things we used to only dare say behind closed doors with the people who look like us. In the safety of our enclaves, we fed our fears and then went out into the world and pretended that everything was okay. And if we allowed ourselves to be open-minded for a moment we would realise that our fears were unfounded and we would chuckle, a little embarrassed, a lot relieved.
But they eavesdrop on our conversations and then take those paranoias and amplify them into national concerns. And soon the whole country is terrified of real and imagined threats that are coming. Those who feed the fears are pleased. Their rewards are political.
They omit concerns about other threats. They omit the parts where they are part of the threat themselves. They omit that they are much a part of the problem. That they have no solutions to offer save to make people terrified of the “wrong” kind of difference.
My belly churning for the indignity. For all the beach boys begging white women who come on planes from Germany, not ships from Calcutta. For a generation of Tobago manhood that is found in the wallets of lonely European women.
My belly churning with fear. For the threat of environmental disasters that are real and existing now. The ones that are to come to Charlotteville when the oil speculators turn up. The ones bleaching the coral. The ones who will fall into the same resource curse that has been plaguing Trinidad for so long. The squandermania ships. And the tief-the-money ships. The plundering of all-that-is-true ships.
I wonder when that Ship of Fools is going to come back and pick up this useless cargo and take them somewhere far away from us. So that we can get on with the job of nation-building. So that we can be free of the endless outpouring of vomit that passes as political rhetoric. They are sickening a nation with a disease for which they are not interested in finding a cure.
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