Not much to Celebrate

Everybody run run run
Everybody scatter scatter
Some people lost some bread
Someone nearly die
Someone just die
Police dey come, army dey come
Confusion everywhere
—Sorrow, Tears and Blood, Fela Kuti

Dear Aunty Kamla,
Not that you asked. But I’ll tell you, I’m not terribly happy about the state of my country right now. It’s not just the failed-state stench that’s hanging over us like La Basse smog on an early morning. It’s not the Flying Squad bacchanal or the out-of-control crime. It’s not even the vacuum of radical, fearless leadership that’s going to be left in the aftermath of Hugo Chavez’s death.

Give jack his jacket, he did things that successive governments have failed to do and will continue to fail to do—like using our oil wealth to lift certain segments of our society out of poverty. It’s my uterus, Aunty Kamla. She’s got a mind of her own and she thinks you need to get some vulvicular fortitude. March, they say is the month of women. Women making strides. Women doing wonderful things. Yippee you say. My uterus and I had a chat and we think there isn’t much to celebrate.

We’re still one of the few countries in the western hemisphere to have a woman in charge. Well, if you call what you’re doing being in charge. My uterus gets the sense that you aren’t, really. My uterus thinks that you are just as clueless as the rest of us as to just what the hell is going on and how to solve the many problems.

My uterus is shouting bloody murder because she thinks that this cluelessness will last another two years until election season comes around again and suddenly you will have all the answers to the many questions we have. Where, oh where is the gender policy? Where, oh where is the child protection legislation? Why is the Children’s Authority still non-functional?

To tell you the truth, I think my uterus is kind of bored of it all, Aunty Kamla. What about you? Are you bored as well? Bored of having to make excuses for your Cabinet? Bored of having to sidestep demands to probe the issue of the day? Are you bored, too, of columnists like me who don’t understand what it’s really like to run a country? The cautious anticipation I felt at the beginning of your time in office has become a dull and ever present headache. I keep waiting for you to come up with a cure.

You don’t seem to have one and that makes me terribly sad. Those who say you are the mother of the nation must have had the sorts of mothers that wail on television when their children behave badly. Those who say you are the mother of the nation must be needy orphans. My mother is a lot of things, including an excellent cook and a little mad. I know if I had a headache she would probably feel it before I had a name for the pain. She would also move mountains to ensure that I no longer had a headache.

My uterus is a little gun shy about producing any future Trinis because she thinks that the foundation that you are laying for a future T&T is no future at all. My uterus wonders why your government ministers are rushing to help one family when so many children are at risk, everyday, every minute, all over this country.

My uterus wonders if your prime ministership is more gimmicky than the national telephone company that spends endless money talking about how awesome their technology is but the frequency of dropped calls is faster than the speed of mobile internet access. My uterus wants you to know that she’s kind of pissed. And it’s not hormonal imbalances. It’s not misplaced angry black woman outbursts.

My uterus wants you to woman up and do your job instead of constantly reacting to situations. My uterus wonders if you remember your own birth pangs. Who was there to hold your hand? Who prepared you for that day? Why aren’t you holding this nation closer? Why aren’t you preparing us for what is to come?

My uterus is angry and weepy, Aunty Kamla. My uterus wonders if anyone, including you, will care. My uterus wonders if your uterus also churns with distress. My uterus wonders where the mothers are. The mothers who give birth to the abusers. To the killers. To the police. To the politicians. To the thinkers and doers and musicians and the artists. My uterus wonders what is going on in their insides.

She wonders when women will understand that without them change is impossible. Without them demanding it, instigating it, forcing it, pushing it, the change our communities so desperately need will remain an unfulfilled desire. Bleeding out of us and into our flooded drains. Like so many dead children. And so many dead dreams.

First published in the Trinidad Guardian March 9, 2013

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Time to Kick Back

He isn’t true
He beats me too
What can I do?
Oh, my man I love him so
He’ll never know
All my life is just despair
But I don’t care
When he takes me in his arms
The world is right, alright
What’s the difference if I say
I’ll go away, when I know I’ll come back
On my knees someday
For whatever my man is
I’m his
Forever more.
My Man, Billie Holiday

Gangsters and wannabe gangsters killing each other is bad enough.  In this time of war when warriors know nothing of fighting for a reason, loving the battle, defending anything more than their fragile manhood.  We are shocked enough about it to sit around talking.  Some of us are relieved that they are killing each other.
War is war and maybe there is nothing that the rest of us can do about it.  Maybe.
But what is love when it makes you kill your four year old son?  What is devotion when you the only way to resolve family conflict is death?
For some reason we still haven’t found a way to deal with this kind of madness. Maybe because we still are so permissive about violence against women and children.  It’s the way, because men are head of the household, blah blah blah.  Even though are sometimes most men contribute less emotionally, financially and physically.  I don’t want to be one of those jaded bitter women who complain about men and how they’re no good, but Jah, it is difficult.
Not that I could possibly manage to be more unpopular among Trini men, but there is something wrong with too many of them.
We all talk about it, with varying levels of hysteria hidden in our nervous laughter.
Still, I desperately want to believe that this terrible monstrosity known as the Trini man is really a front and the good men are hidden somewhere hidden, in a secret good man lair, waiting to unleash themselves on the female population, when we’re ready.
I want desperately to believe that there are good men out there. I know a few that try very hard, in the face of domineering women, the sperm jackers and the money spenders who only look for a mooks of a man to manipulate.
Yet the headline on Guardian following the tragic murder suicide was ‘I Never Horn Him’.  As if a woman horning a man is some kind of justification for any kind of violence.
But I’ve heard so many comments in the past few months about women saying that another woman deserves to get her face re-modeled for even entertaining the thought of another man, that I wonder why we have so many double standards about men and women’s sexuality.
Women still think their bodies and lives and the bodies and lives of their children belong to men, and the police are trained to reinforce these misconceptions, but not, apparently to mediate man and woman problems.
Four years old, I imagine a sweet little boy who touches everything and has an assortment of sassy comments. Words he doesn’t understand, aped from the adults around him or from television.
I wonder if men got pregnant and went through labour, would it be so easy for them to kill?
I wonder too if love can make you hate so much that you can kill your child, why are we all so obsessed with finding it?
And in the same way that our government is obsessed with owning as many new and shiny useless things as possible, our men are also obsessed with possessing women in ways that nobody should ever feel they have rights to lay claim over another human being.
And it doesn’t matter if you live in the country or in a nice suburban townhouse, you still have a right to collect some slaps, eat some licks, swallow some cuff.
And as the men on the streets of our fair city remind us everyday with their not so wide range of uninspired courting, it doesn’t matter if you’re a whore or a bank girl, you’re just a piece of ass.  And what is an ass but a not to bright beast on which to ride?  I live in hope that one day the beasts get fed up and finally start to kick back.