In one of the kitchens at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Food Network’s World Extreme Chef 2012 Terry French stood before a dish of curried geera pork with a side tray of curried fudge...
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Son of godfather
My name is HD Greaves and I have ten e-books on Amazon.com. I was born in Woodbrook, a very different neighbourhood from when I was raised there during World War II. All of my family are dead now. I have no relations whatsoever. I like to jokingly say I’m a 75-year-old orphan.
I look in the mirror in the morning and ask, “Who is that person?” We often think of ourselves as we were when we were much younger. Now I laugh at it. What can you do? It’s a kind of instant deterioration. You have to accept it and go on.
I have very vivid memories of my godfather taking me to catch blue crabs. Put ‘em in the galvanized bucket and carry ‘em back to feed the chickens. I remember him taking me to Carenage during Hosay to watch the tadjahs being put into the sea.
My father died when I was very young and I was raised by a godfather, who stayed with us. Many of the people I knew growing up were very racist. Thanks to my godfather, I managed to escape that. He instilled in me the idea that all peoples were the same, no matter their colour, race, religion. And I have followed that philosophy all my life.
Upon returning, I myself have encountered a tremendous amount of racism. I’ve been called “white nigger” and “whitey cockroach” to my face. I never encountered that growing up here. The idea that people would be so disrespectful today in what is trying to be a progressive republic is disheartening and saddening.
After the war, my mother married an American and we emigrated to California. I never wanted to leave. I put up on hell of a fuss but, when you’re ten, you’re not going to get very far with that. I kept coming back over the years but would always have to go back to the US because of family and other obligations.
I had just turned 18 when I moved back to Trinidad to live with my godfather. And he died two weeks before I arrived. I stayed with friends of my mother in Ellerslie Park, Trinidadians of that era, who were very racist. Trinidad was trying to be part of the West Indian Federation and they kept saying, “You don’t want to be here when the government changes!” It won’t be a British colony any more! At 18, you don’t know very much. I followed their advice. The one thing I really regret.
I speak with an American accent. If I tried to speak with a Trinidadian accent, I would sound ridiculous!
I don’t get a pension from the States because everything was lost in the recession. So I moved back here, only to find out after arriving I couldn’t get the pension. So things have been very interesting. But I’ve been making do. I have an ad in the Westerly as a house-sitter/long term live-in personal assistant. I haven’t received any word yet.
What upsets me almost more than anything else is the litter. It’s like we’re trying to make this beautiful little country into a garbage dump.
People here seem to think the States is some kind of paradise. It is not. Right now, I need a knee replacement. The nice thing about Trinidad is that medical is free. If I’d stayed in the States, I’d be paying through the nose for my knee.
I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. But I’m sure a lot of what I wrote when I was young was nonsense, really.
I definitely believe there’s an afterlife but I don’t think it’s a Heaven with angels playing on harps. You hear, “Go into the light!” Well, all right, we’ll see what happens.
My idea of writing is to provide some kind of knowledge, some kind of statement about human beings, who and what we are. We need to encourage the reading of good books to help us understand who we are, where we come from. Possibly where we’re going.
I love good old-fashioned calypso like, “The Bedbug.” But I don’t care much for soca.
I haven’t given any consideration at all to mortality. I’ll live as long as I live. Hopefully with all of my faculties intact.
I have always considered myself a Trinidadian because I was born and raised here and love the place.
We’ve desecrated it with ugly buildings and litter but Trinidad & Tobago is a beautiful country.
• Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com
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