Dear Aunty Kamla
Believe it or not, I’ve recently developed a fondness for nail polish. This is a bizarre new world for me, since I haven’t been interested in nail polish since the nineties. It was one of the things I gave up in my more idealistic radical teenage vegan days.
You see nail polish, contains some rather nefarious chemicals and I couldn’t justify polluting Mother Earth just so that I could feel better about how my toes look in slippers.
Last summer in Babylon-don I briefly toyed with the idea of buying some organic nail polish, but it was £8 a bottle and again I couldn’t justify spending £8 on nail polish when I could use the money to save the earth by going off to another environmental protest.
But I digress.
My sistren Ria who is determined to make me cute, and doesn’t mind that she is fighting an uphill battle put some polish on my finger nails the other
night. It was so weird to have hands that look nice for a change. To have my freakishly long fingers come to a pretty end was kind of a refreshing
change from how they usually look. Which is writerish – short nails, fingers permanently bent in a qwerty direction. I stared at my hands all night but then took it off after a few hours because it felt too much like someone else’s hands. They looked cute but my hands are mine and I kind of like that they reflect who I am and what I do.
Anyway, Ria made another attempt with the nail polish on New Year’s Eve and this time I ended up with orange toes.
A week later, I still have orange toes and this is where I’m getting concerned.
Aunty Kamla, I kind of like it. My toes look so cute that I want to keep this look going for a while. But unfortunately Ria is not only my nail polish pusher but one of the brightest women I know and as such she has gone back to her big sawatee job in Babylon-don.
You’re probably wondering Aunty Kamla, why on Jah’s green earth am I confessing this to the nation’s Prime Minister?
Well I’m not really sure but I have a hunch that my new fascination with my orange toes is kind of like your not quite having come to terms with the fact that you’re really the Prime Minister and you’re so caught up in the trappings that you just can’t seem to get settled into actually doing anything.
And perhaps it’s sexist of me to use nail polish as an analogy for you and your government’s apparent incapacity to actually get anything done. I am falling into all the age old gendered ways of seeing women and their roles.
The point is, my orange toes are causing me a lot of distraction. I watch them as I walk. Sitting at my desk. I’m even thinking of buying proper shoes
in which my orange toes will be properly displayed. I want to go out and buy more nail polish, but a) I can’t actually put it on myself b) you can’t buy
organic nail polish in Trinidad and everybody knows the track record we have in terms of our landfills.
But I’ve figured out that the problem Aunty Kamla is that I, unlike Ria and my Didi and also my relentlessly fabulous mother, have not been able to master the art looking fabulous while being undistracted by my fabulousness.
But this is not a threat to the future of a nation.
Sometimes I see you, Aunty Kamla and I think you are suffering from I never thought. Which is an easy affliction to suffer from in Trinidad. Because we are so violently allergic to change and difference, when the change actually comes, we get terribly confused. We start to suffer from paralysis, a kind of analytical tootoolbay.
You see you very much look the part. But the look isn’t enough. To tell the truth, I’d be happy if you looked the way you looked before your campaign
image consultants made you over into well put together Prime Minister lady.
Because all the tweezing and teasing and trappings did not prepare you for how to deal with seven murders in four days. Or Ministers who’ve started to act like Animal Farm piggies. Or a coalition that is at best shaky.
I watched you a few weeks ago on the Promenade with Aunty Verna and Aunty Ella. I could sense you wanted to break away. To let the drums shake
you to your core. But that’s not Prime Minister-ly. So you smile and try and hold yourself together.
But this is not a time for women to hold themselves together. To separate themselves from their emotions. To be distracted by nail polish and hair
spray. We’ve had enough of that soulless leadership from the many men who have failed us.
And certainly if all the trappings and trimmings and girdling and high heeling distract you from the job then I say get rid of them altogether. I imagine I will grow bored of nail polish by next week. I cannot imagine that you will get
bored of looking like well put together Prime Minister lady any time soon. But please don’t forget the job is real. The people are real. The country is in real crisis and appearances will not, cannot save us.
Dear Aunty Kamla