AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Annette Sirju and this month makes it four years since I’ve read a newspaper or listened to the radio or television news.
People sometimes are surprised when they hear my surname and then see me.
But you know, we live in a callaloo culture: everything is mixed up.
The day I met my husband, he told me his first name was Parasuram. I was, like, “Para-rara-rara-rara-what?” My family and all my friends and I call him “Sirj.”
Once, I took up a hike in Tobago with a large group, 20 people. I had to hustle to get to the docks after work and (the hiking group) saved a seat on the boat for me.
This man reading a book looked up to see who they were saving the seat for and then put his nose back down in the book.
The A/C was right above me and I asked him if he would switch seats. He nodded.
I asked him if I could borrow his Reader’s Digest. He nodded. Silence throughout.
In Tobago, by the time I’d unpacked and showered, everyone else but him had left for dinner, so we walked out the road together.
We couldn’t find the group, so we sat and chatted for hours. You’d swear we knew one another for a long time. After the four days there, we exchanged numbers.
My first husband is East Indian as well. People always tell me I have “a type” and that might be so – but I know they’re attracted to me!
My 28-year-old daughter, Chantal, does Indian dance and had a Divali show coming up.
On the boat back to Trinidad, I (invited) Sirj. Then he invited me to a show at NAPA. I didn’t know the NAPA A/C was so cold! I didn’t have a sweater, so he took my hands in his and rubbed them together to get them warm.
I thought that was so sweet, but I had no interest in him romantically.
We became very good, supportive friends. He lived in Curepe, I in Diego Martin. He doesn’t drive, I do. So we’d meet and go have pudding.
That man has so much patience. I’d ramble on and he’d just listen and throw in his two cents now and then. He’s very quiet by nature.
One time, we ended up spending a whole night together, just chatting, and I felt so pleased that he showed me full respect. In the morning, I asked him if he had a girlfriend. I was surprised he said no because this was a very nice man.
I initiated the romance from there because I felt, “This is a really nice catch!”
Big woman like me, I was so nervous to tell him how I felt. He said, “Let’s try.” And this month makes it nine years we’re together. We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary in July. He gets along very well with my son, Kevin, too.
We don’t quarrel, we don’t fight, we don’t cuss, we live so good together. And he still don’t drive. I tell him it’s a good thing because these roads are so crazy.
I can’t make roti. But I make a mean curry.
I do not feel very patriotic at this time. Sometimes I don’t even want to say it’s “my” country.
There are a lot of positives about it – but there are too many negatives.
So many people pray for the country. I don’t feel it. I even question God sometimes.
On the front page of every newspaper, all the time, it’s crime, crime, crime. Top story on the news always crime.
Persons have to know themselves, and I know myself. I realised that, from reading sad things happening all the time, I started getting very depressed.
Reading the news, hearing the news, even looking at a newspaper, I felt sad. I couldn’t sleep very well.
I decided, for me to function day to day, I had to cut out reading papers and all forms of news.
People say to me, “What? You don’t read the papers? You don’t watch the news? How you functioning?”
Well, I’m alive and I’m going about my business without feeling sad. Mentally, I’ve been far better off this last four years.
Everyone at work knows I don’t read the news so, when I get to the office, they don’t discuss bad news in front of me. Sometimes, not frequently, they will say, “I know you don’t want the news but I have to tell you this story.”
And it does still sadden me.
I’m not living in a fantasy land. It’s not that I’m pretending that all that bad stuff is not happening.
It’s that I need to be able to function. I have to protect myself.
I look at comedy and game shows. If I have to read, it’ll be some joke book. I’ve deliberately incorporated these light things in my life.
Four years ago, I got cable TV and, once that came on, I never looked at local television again.
I don’t look at foreign news, either. I look for (uplifting) stories about people and documentaries. I’m never up -to date on whatever horror is happening in Syria or Afghanistan or wherever this week.
I think it’s important to hold on to some sort of hope. We go to the free shows the ministry puts on at NAPA and I say to Sirj, “Why don’t they highlight that?” There’s so much beautiful talent in Trinidad! Why isn’t THAT on the front page of the newspaper?
So much good news, it’s just so amazing.
I wish the country could be kept cleaner than it is. You go to beautiful sites in Trinidad and see garbage. Why would anyone carry a KFC bucket into a river?
When you work, work hard. And when you play, play hard. And NEVER mix the two!
A Trini is freedom.
I love TT. But right now, Tobago is at the top of my list. Not as much violence, beaches, food, relaxation. I want to retire there.
Read the full version of this feature on Wednesday at www.BCPires.com