Tight belts and Guava Season

Them belly full

But we hungry

A hungry man is an angry man

Rain a fall

But de dirt it tuff

Pot a cook

But de food nuh nuff

Dem Belly Full, Bob Marley

Should we tighten our belts or loosen them? Papa Patos claims the worst is over.

And like an obedient child I desperately want to believe him. I want to believe that sooner rather than later, it will be okay again. Presuming of course that it was ever okay. Presuming of course that politicians don’t just say whatever comes to their minds, because they can, because they feel like it, because they are so high on power that they can say what the hell they want and zaffeh us if we take them too seriously.

My belt remains tight. So tight I can feel it constricting my ribs. It’s the look now anyway. Tight belts. High on the waist. . At least the government is in style.

Even the men are wearing their pants tight. Tight’s alright, Papa Patos. We can deal with it.

The belt is tight. So tight it is strangling our resolve. Tiring us out. Collapsing our internal organs.

Our breath is shallow now. Don’t take in too much oxygen now. Your brain might start to think. Your brain might start to process all the BS.

Mariano Browne says loosen it but not too much. Just enough to pick up the ever so faint stench of lies, half truths, baked facts, massaged figures, manufactured outcomes.

The tight belts shouldn’t stop the fete. The tight belts don’t create a moment for quiet reflection from our leaders. They bray on regardless. Do not bother to disguise their lack of a plan. The tight belts are a fashion statement and little else.

In their tightened belts Trinis lime on the Avenue. The drinks flow like water. Belts are not too tight to take in alcohol. To drink down the bitter sweet inertia of spirits that demand their tribute on the streets in the early mornings.

One morning close to dawn I met a young man with a jaw wired shut from his kidnappers beatings. His belt is tightened to hold him together, to keep smiling in spite of a jaw full of titanium. To go on enjoying life in Trinidad without the fear of someone spilling his insides onto the bloodthirsty asphalt.

In their tightened belts policemen kill their women. Tobagonians murder tourists and the children from up the road curse their mothers as they stone my neighbour’s mango tree.

Tight belts. Tight thoughts. Tight minds that allow us no space to consider our humanity.

But whether the belt is tight or loose it is still the guava season of no guavas. When one zaboca could cost you more than the cost of a trip to the country to pick one from your grandmother’s tree.

It’s Mr. Zaboca and Madame Starch now. The tight belt makes us believe that we are not deserving of such luxuries on small tropical islands. No no. Fruit is a luxury and coconut water is the drink of the nouveau riche to chase their Johnny and chase away their fears of losing their affluence.

Tight belts shield us from a desire to taste ourselves. Tight belts give us a thirst for difference. To not be ourselves. To hold ourselves up to someone else’s standards.

So he says we can loosen them now. And we are so happy for the ease up that we still can’t see through the thinly veiled hysterics.

We are tired from the tightened belts. Malnourished in this intellectual wasteland. Starved of leadership.

But whether the belt is tight or loose we still have leaders who give us bizarre directives. Fill our minds with pipe dreams and platitudes. Make us do a dance of fortune in a time when there is so much misfortune stalking us that we must look like a paw paw tree covered with blight.

Those who have never known a loose belt smile wearily. Those who have suffered in good times and bad, know better than to believe any hype.

They know that tight or loose is the same old khaki pants.