THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY
OLD YEAR’S Day and Y’Boy starting the last day of the year same way he’s start every day and the same way he will start the first day of the new year, God willing and hangover permitting: with a long, brisk walk in the cane fields of St Peter. (In Trinidad, is the Savannah and the Botanical Gardens, whereby the ghost of Anthony Harford Past must be now very Present.)
The sky blue-blue-blue, like Muddy Waters on a Saturday night and visibility so sharp it could almost cut your eye…but Y’Boy still can’t see where it is we going, with covid19 running wild and democracy running scared, and dotish people feeling they smart saying no to vaccine and thing.
Y’Boy know that, in Bajan cane fields, time does just drop away. You walk out your own gate, houses all round, car passing, neighbour giving you “Riiiight” – but, as you reach the first cane field, you start to leave the present. Radio noise gone. Engine reverb softening as the cane thickening. By the time you reach the fourth cane field, you gone back three centuries.
And is just you.
And the memory of the land around you.
Every morning, unless Y’Boy distract he-self with Jimi Hendrix in he ears, Y’Boy does start to feel the pain this ground soak up for 400 years. When the cane fall silent, Y’Boy does hear the crack of the whip.
Which West Indian who paying any attention really believe that memories of 400 years of actual horror could be erase’ by 40 years of so-called independence? In the cane fields of Barbados, the years 2021 and 1721 are separated by five minutes’ walk.
In these fussy little islands, everyday attitudes, commonplace exchanges, day-to-day interpersonal relationships in 2021, were set in a mould cast centuries ago. A man talk to you in a certain way and you want to cuff him down, don’t mind he might be telling you something nice. In how he talk to you, you tell yourself he not recognising you is a man.
Five minutes later, you could talk to a next man same way.
You is the same man in both cases, but you playing a different role, according as the situation cast you.
And all of this confusion, whereby, for so many, vaccine is dangerous and covid19 is safe, all this modern nonsense, started here, right where Y’Boy foot falling. Centuries ago. To make tea sweet in Europe, blood spill here.
All that pain, all that horror, the violence and hatred on which these territories were founded – none of that darkness went anywhere.
It bubblicating in every one of Y’Boy footsteps in the cane or the gardens. And it erupting in a hundred minor commercial transactions in the mall.
Mindsets of the mid-18th century present here today.
Y’Boy walking in the cane but he brain running.
We in the West Indies, the majority of which was on the wrong end of either the whip or the contract of indenture, we feel the pain of 300 years ago like is a toe we stub this morning-self, and we can’t even walk good, is so that toe jamming we.
And then a thought hit Y’Boy so hard, it nearly knock him over:
If we, which does get call, nowadays, “people of colour,” could feel the pain of centuries-old slavery (and indenture, too) so immediately…Well, then, them white Americans in the South could feel, just as immediately, and even more sharper, the pain of the loss of supremacy.
And Y’Boy stand up straight, like he get lash with a bull pistle, as he suddenly finally understand all them Trump supporters.
Just as how we could feel, today, in the cane in Barbados, the pain of centuries ago, they see, in Trump, a man who would turn back the tide of history. And make America great for white people again.
Y’Boy stand up like a chupidee, but he ent begging for mercy.
All time long, and covid time more longer and harder still.
But Y’Boy know that time longer than twine. And all bonds does break.
But is only you could free yourself.
Better to remember the pain of 400 years than to want to bring it back.
BC Pires is wishing everyone a Happy New Year, even if it turns out to be the same old-same old