Telling our lives: Carib book expo comes to town
He was strumming my fate
with his fingers
Telling my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song.
In this well-known
pop ballad, what Roberta Flack is singing about is the shock of
recog-nition at the fact that the unknown singer is telling the tale
of her life. This feeling of shock signals an immediate empathetic
connection between the singer, writer, artist, the giver of
expression, and the receiver - the reader, listener or viewer on the
other side of the refracting mirror. For people from the Caribbean, a
region still young in the production of literary arts, this act of
recognition mostly comes only after a quick translation of the works
of art made by others into that of our own reality.
Language, image, the social realities,
even the settings of the books and movies and other arts that we
enjoy, rarely reflect our own experiences of the world. And why should
they? They are not written by us, nor are we habituated into seeing
our own struggles, our everyday dilemmas and our peculiar brand of
cussed, contradictory, self-defeating behaviour - the stuff of the
novels and films we consume - come to life on the pages of books, in
the music of poetry, on stage or in celluloid, so we press on with our
daily lives, hardly noticing the gap.
Until perhaps the day comes when we read
a book, see or hear something that speaks to us directly and the
thrill of the moment is underlined by the rarity of its occurrence.
What would it be like, I ask you, to live in a world where the
dominant images and indeed, the social realities being narrated were
ours absolutely, without having to make that instant adjustment for
skin colour, language, ways of seeing and apprehending the landscape
around us? Or even better and more futuristic, what if it were a world
where such differences existed but did not matter one jot in terms of
value, when everyone’s being and world view would count equally and be
as identifiable and even desirable as art? Utopia, nothing less.
But dystopia is not the only
alternative. We are fortunate to have a solid body of literature that
exists of and from the Caribbean region, created by its artists at
home and scattered in many territories abroad, much of it first rate
and deserving of no less than three Nobel Prizes for Literature - V.S.
Naipaul (2002), Derek Walcott (1994) and Saint-John Perse (1960) -
apart from many other prestigious literary prizes. For example, Austin
Clarke, of Toronto and Barbados, is last year’s winner of the Giller
Prize for fiction as well as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. And
Dionne Brand, of Toronto and Barbados, is the 1997 winner of the
Governor General’s Award for poetry and was short-listed this year for
the prestigious Griffin Prize.
Shootings now commonplace
Growing murders leave T&T uneasy
By Sandra Chouthi
Special to Indo Caribbean World
warfare especially in the hills of Laventille, east of Port-of-Spain,
and the easy availability of guns are being blamed for the high murder
rate in Trinidad, which on Sunday stood at 108. Total murders for 2002
The most high profile of the shooting
deaths was that of Jillia Bowen, 32, of Nelson Street, Port of Spain.
She was in the company of her common-law husband Addell Ghany and
Salim Rasheed, who was expelled from the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen in May,
which staged an attempted coup against the government in July 1990.
The three were shot at in a drive-by shooting while sitting on a bench
outside Movie Towne in upscale Westmoorings on June 4. Bowen died at
Ghany and Rasheed, who has publicly
criticised Muslimeen leader Abu Bakr for misleading the young men of
Laventille, survived and are still hospitalised.
Following Rasheed’s statements, Bakr had told him he couldn’t
guarantee his safety. Speaking on a radio programme on June 5, Bakr
said he was not connected with the shooting.
“I swear by my God five times, ten
times, I had nothing to do with that shooting. Bring any individual in
Trinidad & Tobago who sincerly
can say that I have ever told them to kill
anybody, rob anybody, who has spotted me with a gun outside of 1990,
or who knows me to be involved with any drugs — bring them," he said.
Bakr, speaking at Friday prayers at the Mucurapo-based
mosque of the Muslimeen on June 6, told his listeners that the biggest
problem among Muslims was in-fighting.
"There are always problems in the ranks created
by people who say they are Muslims — people who want to make
confusion. There are stern penalties in the Qu’ran. It calls for
expulsion or execution," Bakr said.
There are fears that further attempts will be
made on the lives of Ghany and Rasheed, who are under police guard in
hospital, where nurses have been reported to be uneasy over the
presence of men in Muslim garb.
Shootings have become commonplace. On June 3,
gunmen opened fire on the family of Onika Stoute, killing her brother
Akin, 18. Her two-month-old Timika might have died had Stoute not
shielded her daughter with her body. The shooting occurred at Upper
Pashley Street, Laventille.
Towering Murti of Hanuman in T&T
An eight storey tall murti (image) of
Lord Hanuman has captured the attention of Trinidad and attracted
visitors from around the world to its consecration.
The 85-foot-tall Sri Karya Siddhi
Hanuman — the only one of its size outside India — was consecrated
earlier this month by Swami Ganapati Sachchidananda in the presence of
thousands of local and foreign devotees, Oppositon leader Basdeo
Panday and Senate President Linda Baboolal. A helicopter had to be
used to pour Ganga water on the head of the murti, which is situated
at the Dattatreya Yoga Centre and Mandir at Orange Field Road,
The pink and red tinted Hanuman murti
stands tall with right hand in blessings posture, and left hand
holding onto his mukdar (mace). During an interview recently, an
official of the Yoga Centre said the mega-Hanuman represented the
Siddhi Hanuman who had grown in size in order to cross the bridge to
Lanka, as related in the Hindu religious text — Ramayan.
signifies that just as Hanuman grew in size because of his great yogic
powers, we as devotees should also grow in height spirituality.”
holds a special place of reverence for Hindus of Trinidad & Tobago,
according to Parsuram Maharaj, an Executive Member of the Sanatan
Dharma Maha Sabha.
figures predominately in the religious life of Hindus here and as such
Lord Hanuman towers spiritually in Trinidad. Of the pujas the early
indentured performed one was the Hanuman puja with the other being the
surrounded by a hostile, and harsh environment sought refuge in
religion. Thus from an early period in the Indian presence in Trinidad
Hanuman Baba was dear to the Hindu heart,” said Parsuram.
is the deity seen as the provider of courage, hope, knowledge,
intellect and devotion. He is pictured as a robust monkey holding a
mace (gada) which is a sign of bravery and having a picture of Lord
Rama tatooed on his chest which is a sign of his devotion to Lord Rama.
said to be Chiranjivi (immortal) and is present in the world even
today. He is the link between the devotees and God, for, as instructed
by the Lord, he serves, protects and inspires the servants of God.
Lord Hanuman, through a boon given to him by Sri Rama, will remain on
Earth and be the presiding Deity of Kaliyug — the present dark-age.