TT, IN contemporary times, has been hobbled by many challenges. From extreme weather events to soaring crime defined by horrific killings, we are far from idyllic but by no means lost.
Our troubles have, for the most part, braced our resolve and resilience as a people, even if our institutions don’t learn one thing from them.
Covid19, however, is another story. This is the four horsemen of the apocalypse rolled into one. Nations considered more advanced with superior healthcare systems have been overwhelmed, ravaged, shuttered and forced into forced sequestration while covid19 and, in some instances, confused-looking wild animals roam the streets marvelling at their apparent good fortune.
In little old Trini, we’ve found ourselves in a partial lockdown, which sort of has the feel of one of those public holidays no one takes seriously. It’s mostly an as-you-were environment in which a whole lot of people are, apparently, essential.
That’s got to feel good, right? You thought yours was a meaningless job, but now your esteem is getting a good boost. “Phillip gyul, we makin’ ah run by the river to trow some cyad and trow some waist. Ah passin’ fuh yuh!” “Nah boy, ah cyar make...I essential.”
Many seemed amazed that people would interpret #stayathome to mean #ringstovelime. There was a video circulating of riverside revellers dancing around a bubbling pot like witches around a cauldron. They danced frenetically to the apocalypso playing on a small boom box.
A police vehicle on the other side of the shallow stream blared commands to pack up and head home. That only seemed to intensify their revelry. Ah, my Trini people. We give a whole new meaning to the saying “never waste a crisis.”
While some of our people see the partial lockdown as an opportunity to buss ah lime, others questioned other impacts of this wafer-thin edict on their freedom of movement. Who could have guessed that we are a nation so passionate about outdoor exercise, health and fitness? I know there are quite a few people for whom physical exercise is critical to their health regimen, but to rise to the level of national discourse? That was a bit surprising.
The topic was heated enough to cause discomfort in the domestic affairs between the Commissioner of Police and Minister of National Security. It was like a child going to one parent with a request and being denied, then going to the other parent and getting the all-clear, thus sowing the seeds of discord in the family home.
First, you shouldn’t be exercising outdoors at all. No wait – you can exercise in pairs outside; which is it man? Sure, it’s reductive to challenge this apparent passion for health and fitness al fresco with what we know about the legions of “sugar” and hypertension afflicted in this country.
Still, to read about the exercise or not to exercise debate while the drive-through line at Mc Donald’s threatens to loop the building gives good laughs in a time when laughs are hard to come by.
Still, for as many people chafing at the bit to be free of the current “restrictions,” others, it seems, are taking their time at home in stride. There was a news story about a spike in the sales of adult toys with the arrival of covid19. For some people, facing the apocalypse without a formidable rubber dong or one of those dolls that looks perpetually surprised – well that’s just reckless.
By the end of the first week of so-called lockdown the country appeared to be back to business as usual. Though many businesses have done the right thing, even in instances where according to the broad classification of “essential” they would be able to operate freely. This they have done to minimise risk to their customers as well as to themselves.
Even so, as a nation, we’ve not taken on the message of sequestration and the importance of physical distancing. People are still congregating publicly, lines outside of banks and some groceries are practically conga lines and traffic on the roads doesn’t reflect that anything out the ordinary is happening in this country.
Daily news conferences are updating the nation on the march of covid19. For people less malleable and more inquisitive it’s tough to shake the feeling that we aren’t getting the whole story on the impact of this virus.
As such, TT may very well be headed for more painful measures and tragic lessons if we don’t smarten up immediately.