Electrical linemen descend from helicopters, balancing on steel girders 90 feet high on transmission towers in the mountains of central Puerto Rico, far from any road.
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The beauty of the writing beast
My name is Kevin Jared Hosein and I won the Caribbean Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
Me, I’s a man who hail from Central. I’m an only child, but I have family enough to rent a maxi to have a family outing in Manzanilla.
Portia, my girlfriend, and I try to rationalise: do we want a baby or a swimming pool? It have a lot of babies coming into this world, but not so much swimming pools.
I was shy back in Enterprise Government. Didn’t feel like I coulda connect with other children much. In UWI, the administration didn’t even have a seat for me at my own graduation. They had to scribble in my name after X, Y and Z gone. I remember people watching like, ent “H” come before “Z”?
Reading wasn’t my thing initially. I was more of a videogame child, them Japanese role-playing games, always quite story-heavy. I learnt bout time machines through the Super Nintendo game, Chrono Trigger, before I even hear bout HG Wells.
I was a cute boy [but] I’m a beast now. My girlfriend will never attest to it, but I ain’t shame.
Being lonely and beastly had little to do with getting into writing. But the solitude did help. As well as the misery through secondary school. I had plenty anger to get out. Thank God it didn’t have Facebook back then, else I woulda waste all that anger and emotion, scouring for ‘likes’ instead of moulding it into creative writing.
A big part of my late teenage years was finally forsaking religion. I ain’t gon’ stay on the topic long as it have another Kevin who can elaborate much better than me. I ’fraid to even put this out there. “Atheist” is a cuss.
I have scenes from my stories in my head, and whatever fits the soundtrack to them scenes, is my playlist. From Tears for Fears to ‘Sugar Bum Bum’ to Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar score to Dvorak’s Symphony N. 9 in E Minor, 4th Movement. Lights off, me on my bed, floating in this black ocean of sound, with images dipping in and outta it, like bright buoys. Most of my writing, I picture cinematically.
I can’t watch David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr without feeling a knot in my stomach. I feel like it have genius everywhere and I can’t find much other people to care about it with me. Nothing is wrong with Fast and Furious but I usually watch the movies where there might only be ten people max in the cinema.
I borrow The Catcher in the Rye, the first “important” book I read, from the school library on a whim in form two. I read it three times a year, until lower six. The card only had my name on it—the librarian did find that funny. It influenced a lot of my early writing. Influence? I downright used to steal the voice from it.
I entered the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2013, the same year [Trinidadian] Sharon Millar, had her big win. Didn’t get through. The next year, I tailored a story I thought they woulda gobble up. Not even the shortlist, dammit! Last year, I just went, okay, eeny-meeny-miney-movie - King of Settlement 4. Click. Submit. Then thinking right after, ‘Boy, you hadda be mad to submit this disturbing thing to these people.’
Winning the prize put two thoughts in my mind. The first: “Great!” The second: “I feel this judge is a madman!” I’m always unsure of my own work, but knowing one of my stories make it that far was validating.
At school, I teach biology and physics. I don’t regard science and literature as opposite ends of the spectrum. Sometimes I just bus’ open some add maths and do nuclear fission equations to get my brain jogging. Is all neurons and synapses.
A Trini is someone who does live in all parts of Trinidad. For many substantial, uninterrupted portions of their life. I’m glad we clear that up.
Trinidad is my home, my habitat. But invasive species, crime lords, corrupt Cabinets and cunning creatures of the night, run rampant. We need to curb this parasite. Else we’ll end up losing it all.
Is hard for me to speak positively bout Trinidad sometimes. We’s a broken country and a broken people. I ain’t excluding myself from that, but I trying to put the pieces back together.
Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com