I’ve been standing here
On Green Corner
Everyday of my life
I’m watching the masquerade
All them pretty colours
Them like soldiers on parade
So tell me why
Should I change my life
When everyday is a Carnival
Why should I rearrange
When everyday is a festival
Could you picture me in another place
When I’m in the heart of the bacchanal
Would you feed my fire
Would you my flame
The story goes on
Again and again and again and again
It feels good
This comfort nice
It’s been that kind of Carnival. That I could have missed completely.
Everywhere I’ve seen people and they’ve said similar things. They just weren’t feeling the Carnival feelings this year.
I don’t know what it was about this year that made me so completely uninterested in taking part in the festivities.
I guess it’s an overall disappointment. Disappointed by the music, by the costumes, by the void left by Mr. Uncle Minsh that no one has bothered to fill. Disappointed by the hurried paving of roads for masqueraders and promises of heightened security.
Excluded from the exorbitant all inclusives. Left peeping over the fence at so many events that are ram crammed with people spending money that I don’t have. Way too unsexy to dare put on a sparkly bikini.
I guess I must be really over Carnival. It’s as if the greatest show on earth has been exposed to be little more than a five cents play in a badly lit community centre.
But maybe it was always like that I never bothered to notice. I guess being in foreign you tend to exaggerate the value of something, pump up its brilliance in your own imagination as you try to find that thing that makes you special.
Funny I could be at home and feel like I’m in another part of the world. A world where soldiers play a gun mas in down town. And the noise of security helicopters disorients the jumbies.
For real, this Carnival has been an out of body experience.
I could be nearly in the heart of the bacchanal, pan and mas and fetes coming live and direct to my ears from the Stadium and not feel it take possession.
I felt something of the old excitement in Princes Town market on Wednesday night in the crush of people circling a gayelle. There was something in the eyes of those stick men that made me know that I am still alive.
Back in town, St. James is lively under the film of stink. Cockroaches dance round food vendors flanked by sleeping crackheads under the feet of drunk drivers.
Another Carnival, another string band of Carnival babies to hope for better. To boost our population but not our potential.
Because we give birth to the same old newness everyday.
We enjoy this cycle of predictability that isn’t necessarily about upholding traditions. It’s not about subversion or resistance or self-preservation. It’s about added value to the lowest common denominator. Even those of us considered to be cutting edge settle into a comfortable pattern of outspokenness. So even the resistance elements become formulaic and pandering to American phD students and French film crews and avant garde Japanese artists.
I’m seeking truth here, somewhere and find it lacking. Everybody playing a mas, everybody in their section trying to keep up appearances.
It’s as if Carnival is a phantom limb. A bit of our beauty and wholeness that’s been cut off but we still think it’s there. We still go through the motions, for reasons of image or enjoyment or economics.
And we find a million ways to up the ante. To make it bigger and brighter and louder. Pave roads so that bad drivers can play midnight robber. Convince ourselves that it really is the greatest show on earth. Well I guess that’s what Trinis do best. Show ourselves. Play ourselves in front of the camera, skin our teeth and shake our Dexatrimmed backsides and our newly bought breasts. Revel in the stench of our mediocrity, because what else do we know? What else is possible?
The Merry Monarch steupsed and stalked past me. Left me standing on Green Corner hoping for a last minute reprieve. In the heat and silence of my aloneness, I’m not looking forward to the walk home.