Saturday, March 14, 2009

Slipstream

From early on I was pretty sure of two things, I wouldn't do well in a regular job and Trinidad was probably not the best place for me.

For the last month or so we've had some very cool, windy nights and the early mornings are that cool almost cold that make you want to snuggle further under the covers for as long as possible. Wound up from the day, some nights I lie awake listening to the wind rattle the loose galvanise, that low moaning sound as it sweeps down off the surrounding hills; the curtains are always tangled, like a woman's dress removed too quickly and then flung in a corner by an impatient man. Into this, the processor in the back of my mind keeps whirling, going round and round, trying to sort out everything, too much. And yet, there is something haunting, beautiful about that wind, without the usual accompanying rain, a lullaby to soothe you into sleep until relentless pawing by the hound wakes you up again.

It is these relatively quiet moments while the rest of the world outside sleeps that allow me to understand the reasons I stayed here and that continuing to stay, is compounding the fact that I probably need to leave for my own peace of mind. The last five years have been spent, yoked to a job, that while satisfying in some ways, is also extremely challenging and dare I say it, sometimes soul destroying leaving room for little else. The compromises I make every day means I give up a little more of me until I wonder how much is left. Talking to Styles, aka Danielle the other night, we revisited our early days in television when we all had so little money that flip flops and sandals, shorts and t-shirts weren't a fashion statement. that's all we had to wear. She marvels at that I can stomach squeezing myself into four inch heels and a, gulp, suit, every day and I envy that she can pretty much wear the kind of clothes that I'd like to, free and unfettered and that though difficult, she continues to do what she loves in a country that does not appreciate her.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about having a job, it pays the bills and gives me some room to breathe unlike the consulting days when I had to beg, harangue or threaten clients with legal action to get paid for work that I'd done. In these early windy mornings that for me get as close to the feeling I get when I'm in the sea, I clearly understand that a country is the sum of it's people. If we have no manners, if we consistently treat each other badly, if we continue to put ourselves down and see only with blinkers, then even those among us who try to do better will be constantly overwhelmed by the non-conscious mass. Every day now as I go to work, I wonder more and more, why?

Two days ago I was sickened by a letter to the newspaper about the treatment meted out to a security dog that was killed. I won't go into the graphic details but it was horrible. But then, we are country that treat our women and children badly far less for our animals, Every day you read in the paper about missing children and missing young women. Is it any wonder we respond so quickly to the rumour of a container found on the docks with children. It was that knee jerk reaction that comes from fear that what we have all been thinking might just be true. These two constituent groups, young women and children are among the most vulnerable and yet we get no answers. Maybe instead of demanding answers of the news media as to why they carried the story so avidly, the powers that be might have given more thought to the feelings of powerlessness of young and not so young women and talked about investigating disappearances. The blame game is easy, now put your money where your mouth is.

I wonder too if we understand what developed nation status is, it's not about all those tall buildings down by the dock that are reminiscent of Miami Beach. Again, I'm not against buildings but we must also understand that developed nation status means that we honour those declarations and international treaties that we are signatories to, like extended maternity leave for those who have medical issues or the right to equal pay. Mahatma Ghandi said, "the greatness of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated". Well, we all know about that one right. In developed nations, laws are consistently applied, not just the ones that suit the COP on a given day.

In the now there is little any one person can do but still, in the cool of these mornings as I try to sleep I know that as long as I can, that other Ghandi truism will continue to be my mantra, "be the change you want to see in the world." Until the cries to leave get too loud in my head and I too give up the fight and move on.

2 comments:

Gabriela said...

"Until the cries to leave get too loud in my head and I too give up the fight and move on."
Maybe you just don't give the fight... maybe you'll get to continue it somewhere else.
Cheer up!

Kari said...

So right there w/you. This is how I felt a coupla years ago working in Trinidad media.