Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vote of Thanks

No quotes. Just one of a few lines that my indomitable cousin uttered:

‘Always be grateful.’

It is simple and short, like most things uttered in wisdom. But on this Thanksgiving, I really don’t have a choice. Things aren’t perfect but what would life be like if everything were? So here it goes:

Thank you for allowing me to appreciate life so much more. An obscure Sunday evening in November turned into mayhem by an accident that changed so many lives forever.

Thank you for allowing me to appreciate death. You were one of the most generous and genuine souls I had ever met and your death on the eve of Christmas’ own eve made me understand how finite and fickle life can be.

Thank you for being a friend when I thought that I had none. You may not realize it and I have not yet had the courage to revisit that time but your tolerance of me even when it must have been to the point of annoying is something I can never be grateful enough for.

Thank you for willing to be my friend and while I know it has not been reciprocated, it is I who must take the blame for being the lesser person.

Thank you for showing me that I can move on regardless of how bad things get. Your absorption with yourself and the world around you only served as fuel that drove us apart. Maybe it’s too late now.

Thank you for not calling when you came. It allowed me to assimilate things in a different perspective.

Thank you for calling. It was the one call I least expected but was most appreciated since it was one of only a few I received for my birthday.

Thank you for making my life that much more difficult because it brought out a courage in me that I didn’t realize I had.

Thank you for being the selfish, pretentious, untrustworthy snakes that you turned out to be. There can be no excuse for what the three of you did. You are bound to a higher standard. Now, I can recognize insincerity from a distance.

Thank you for listening to my venting.

Thank you for trying to make me be true to myself. It will come in time but you are responsible for starting the ball rolling and helping me to disregard the expectations of conformity from others.

Thank you for being there during the hardest time of my academic life. Your support and concern were not unnoticed and it is partly because of that that I can appreciate fully where I am now.

Thank you for putting up with a far from perfect son. It is almost automatic that you are taken for granted, but it could never be right.

Thank you for your words of wisdom. Never would I have thought that two simple lines would have such profound effect on the way I live my life.

Thank you for putting up with my less than bearable antics. I could have been a much better brother.

Thank you for believing in me. You seemed to be the only one that did or cared.

Thank you for giving me something to believe in. If not in 2007, then maybe in 2012.

Thank you for nothing. You taught me that I should work for what I want most and not expect instant gratification. Now I appreciate it so much more.

Thank you for being my partner in crime. We may be taken advantage of or trampled upon. But our intentions are always true and if one person is genuinely grateful for every ten that walk all over us, it still makes it worth it.

Thank you all for everything that has happened in the last year. It has made me who I am today and while it could have been better, as all things could, I regret not one day of it.

Thank you for life. It is only by your grace that I opened my eyes this morning and will do so tomorrow.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Vive la Revolucion

‘Remember, Remember the fifth of November’- Guy Fawkes Night

Come what may, November 5, 2007 will be remembered in the history books as the day that the electorate of Trinidad and Tobago took a stand. Whether or not history will record that it was the right one is left to be seen. About 700,000 people will let their voices be heard in what could be the most important general election ever to be held in this country.

The incompetence of the PNM and the bacchanal of the UNC-A has not caused, on the face of it, to have eroded their respective bases significantly. It speaks volumes about the maturity or lack thereof of the voters of this country. It makes you wonder whether the poor Laventille grandmother who has had children murdered or the destitute Barrackpore father without an avenue for escaping poverty will have any hope after tomorrow’s election and if in fact, they will be contributing once again to the vicious cycle of electing representatives to prop up a government that does nothing to address their needs, on a personal and national level.

All the crowds were impressive. All the supporters seemed committed. The true test will come once every finger is stained. Then we’ll know whether the country is steppin’ up, having an orange revolution or just movin’. Maybe it’ll have to be a combination of those three but for the second time in our history (other than 1981) T&T will choose from three very strong parties. The only difference is that for the first time, the ‘third force’ may actually win some seats. If that happens, it will have Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini turning in their graves for democracy would have won. And T&T would have grown just that little bit.

The sun creeps above the horizon as the deathly silence is pierced only by a few awakening fowls. This is the calm before the storm. The nation waits with bated breath. The majority of those who I speak with will stain their fingers for the COP, the party representing, to them, the best chance for some semblance of proper government. They represent a new hope. And while they have their fair share of geriatric members, they have also been able to capture the imagination of the youth, a notoriously difficult segment to corner. I, too will be staining that right index finger for the COP. I moved with them on September 10th 2006 at the Centre of Excellence when they were launched and I moved with them on November 3rd, 2007 at their final rally. On November 5th, thousands of us will be moving with them. We will be making a statement, starting a mini bloodless revolution and when the accountants of the election return their report, if the people of this nation have made the right choice, we’ll be moving to the Red House with them.

For too long we’ve searched the barren desert for the ilk of the COP. For too long we’ve clamoured for the strength of a third force to rule the land with a sceptre of equality and justice for ALL. For too long we’ve waited for a party to serve as a responsible guardian of our future. Come what may tomorrow, the COP is that manifestation. And if unelected, the people of this nation must examine themselves and ask why. Why did they let the chance to elect good men slip by? People get the government that they deserve and tomorrow will be no different.

Whether the hunger of the poor, the pain of the sick or the cries of the wronged will be arrested by the party assuming office on Tuesday is left to be seen. But until 6pm tomorrow, the nation waits in hope. And I, for the first time in a very long time, turn my head to the heavens and ask a favour of God. It is one of the hardest things to accept that despite knowing what is good and right, people will let mere animal instincts dictate their voting patterns.

We stand 24 hours away from the opening of the floodgates. All systems are go. The sun will provide the lights, the media the cameras and the citizens the action. And when the editing begins and the final cut is screened, let us hope that we get an Oscar worthy cast rather than a disappointing horror flick. I be movin’ so will at least 51% of the electorate if we are to see our hopes translated into reality. A reality that would have been borne from the frustrations of our people with the hands that they have been dealt in the last 50 years. And come tomorrow night, if I do cry, it would not be because the COP would have lost. It would be because my people would have once again let themselves down by not recognizing that governance should not be measured by who can throw the best picong or concerts. Governance is serious business.

Life will go on. I will be at the hospital on Tuesday even as friends finish up their degrees or start lives in other countries. Change will remain constant and the universe will continue to conspire to give us that which we most desire. But at least, for a little more than a year, the passengers and driver of the COP vehicle gave this not so little boy the hope that we could have done it.

Whether the dream ends tomorrow or a new wave of euphoria washes over T&T as the COP assumes even a single seat in the Parliament, I can say that for once, I have supported a political party and was not, in the least bit ashamed to say so.

Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, and I beg the good people of T&T to move with me and the Congress of the People.

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’- Edmund Burke