Fools in the Temple

Love if you’re there come save me
From all this cold despair
I can hang when you’re around
But I’ll surely die
If you’re not there
Love come quick
Love come in a hurry
There are thieves in the temple tonight

Thieves in the Temple, Prince

The smashed faces of gods I do not worship made my soul feel sore and tired.

And I spent several days trying to come up with the right words to voice a sense of deep regret and disappointment, without admitting to a guilt that is not mine to bear.

And in a way that didn’t have that insincere feel of the government jumping through hoops trying to distance themselves from what had happened.

And there is an eerie calm that has come after the events of last weekend when some angry men thought that the best thing for a fragile and wounded country was to go and destroy a temple.

I just don’t get it. I just don’t understand what gets into a man’s head.

I assume that most women have neither the time nor the passion to engage in such crass stupidity. But these days you can’t be too sure. Without betraying the sisterhood, there are lots of women out there internalising the bigotry of less enlightened men and making all sorts of dotish pronouncements in public.

As if we needed any further proof of what Indian commentators have been saying, that there is a deliberate plan to undermine the Indian community.

I don’t know if I’m actually allowed to acknowledge that, seeing as I belong to the other persecuted group and the common feeling in Trinidad is that we must all hold our respective corners and never recognise that there might actually be other people in our midst that are hurting.

Because of the state of relations between Indians and Africans I feel I should be apologising. Never mind I can’t bear such barbarism. There is guilt for crimes committed by little black boys, and guilt for the obscene dotishness of the PNM and guilt for not knowing how to solve our problems.

And I know that no matter what I write, it will be construed as insincere or racist and some angry person, African or Indian will write me some venomous email. And I guess that’s okay because I have a delete button and enough of a sense of humour to let people hold on to their anger if that is what they feel they should do.

Maybe what we all need to do is acknowledge that we, all of us, whether we like it or not, have some level of inherent racism.

The thing is, we all enjoy the picong until we become the subject.

And our racism is the retarded little brother kept in a cage in the mad house.

Maybe we need to spend more time healing our wounds than bringing attention to their sizes and depths.

Occasionally I mistakenly hope that if I live my life a certain way, if I see Shiva as much as I see Shango, then perhaps, other people will see things that way too.

But when you’re on pure hate, you see neither. You see your own anger and your own powerlessness and your own sense of redressing balance. You spend all your time engaging in the politics of resentment and paranoia.

Like pro-smelter black people saying that anti-smelter activists don’t want black people to strive. Or anti-smelter activists saying that Patos building a smelter to kill Indian people.

Jah knows, I am so bored of it all. I’m bored of dotish black people thinking I’ll agree with them when they bray about not letting the Indian and them come back into power. As if this so-called black government ever do anything for them.

And I’m bored of all the online discussion forums in my inbox going on and on incessantly about which Indian is more right and whether UNC or COP have undermined the Indian vote.

All of these things weighed on my mind as I tried to get my head around the murti massacre.

And I wonder if the gods are as attached to those material manifestations as we are.

I don’t know how much those who have not taken in the history of this place have a sense of ancestral memory. I don’t know how long it will take for us to understand just what went on. Beyond the clothes and beyond the dances, I mean. These are the frills, the surface manifestations of deep and dread stories of resistance and constant struggle.

And every smashed murti is as much of an insult to my ancestors.

And I wish I could find those fools and explain to them that the murtis are not the material things we should be smashing. I wish we would turn our attention away from gods and smash the misguided policies of our leaders. We should busy ourselves with smashing the high walls we’ve built between each other. Burn down all the edifices of our self-contempt instead. And find time to pray to whatever gods we see fit that one day we will wake up and realise that It’s the land and not the buildings that are sacred.

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