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By GHK Lall
It is December, which means that it should be a time of joy, brotherhood, hope, and a little flavor of the good things that this life can offer, regardless how tiny, however fleeting. In a country that is on top of the world, the talk of the world, it is barbarous callousness that so many are without, are forced to make do with whatever trickles down their way, they can manage to put their hands upon. In a country as endowed like this, it is of what should not be. Not at this level. Not for so many. Certainly, not at this time of holiday and festivity.
I scan the horizon, and there is the President. He pronounces and announces like some Oriental potentate of old. A man in full flow in his court, with supplicants and mendicants making him feel so strong, so secure, so self-satisfied. And, so graciously benevolent. Like the three wise men of this timeless season, he doles out his gifts to those who find favor with him, are pleasing to his countenance. They are of one mainly kind of people, mainly his type and his stripe. Every now and then, the President, when its suits his whims and calculations, does lower himself to throw around a few shillings and percentages and make a huge splash about such moments. Like Narcissus of Greek and Homeric legend, the President saw his shadow and fell in love with himself. I gather that there is some biblical underpinning also: the best place for one’s own candle is not beneath the basin, but on the rooftops. For the doubtful in the midst, I point to those billboards, which direct the gaze of Guyanese to the stars, but leave out all those black, brown, and blue children wrenched out of their birthright, their hopes dashed to pieces, and with their mothers reduced to wailing and weeping. Men gnash teeth.
I think of this, and instead of asking myself what child is this, I inquire what time is this, where so few prosper on the backs of so many. People like me should see one star, one shining star at this hour of great tidings and greater goodwill. What I see and hear and absorb is this one great long moment of grief, in a time when none of this ought to be. Not for anyone. Not for one Guyanese. Not in this dream Guyana that is hailed as that best of all worlds: ‘One Guyana.’ There is lush serenity to that construction, the sound and taste and feel of it. But it can only be when it originates in one that is of noble truths, of high ideals, and thoroughly lacking in the slippery or the just too smooth.
I am sorry to be the unwanted messenger, the one left with the heavy duty to tell the world about mommy kissing Santa Claus. Yes, the life and times of Guyanese have been about those kinds of slippages, those obvious human frailties, and all the way right to the top. I return to Guyana’s head of state, and though I neglected to probe for what His Excellency Irfaan Ali translates into, I can say this one thing with absolute certainty. It is not Immanuel. However this may be tampered with, or artistically engineered, it is not ‘God is with us.’
All these gods given gifts, all these millions pouring into Guyana at 200:1, and there is such a multitude of citizens thinking not of Black cake or holiday ham, but of what would come their way so they could make it through the day. I ask myself why this is so in a country with all these numbers, and this once I have no answers that comfort. The fact that there is a particular strain to the suffering and the left out instils fear instead of the hope and joy that should be. Some things are so conspicuous, so widespread, so known that they do not call for identification by name. Or naming any color in Guyana’s rainbow. Indeed, some parts are shrouded in the thickest of clouds.
If this is in a time of plenty, in this land of milk and honey, from what gushes forth from beneath our seas, then I shudder to contemplate where this leaves us, to where it could lead. Out of a manger in a stable in a nowhere land from people dismissed as nobodies, one came. Now look at the world since then, and all the way to today. With all this wealth, the people in power could afford to be benevolent to all, and not primarily theirs. With these many millions, there is much room for those at top of the food chain to be magnanimous, and not be so committed to what is monstrous. I pray that God will rest these merry gentlemen; that their rest will be that of the innocent, even when they forget the stray sheep to be tended. I recommend this most alien of mindsets to those charging ahead when they cast their eyes on the broad horizons of Guyana, onthe numerous hopeful Guyanese, who wish and still wait.
When I hear of ‘one’ and ‘all’ which flow so easily, I still recoil from the thought, the reality, of so many discarded to the outside. To wait their turn for a call that may not come, and when it does, it is of a hand not so filled with the bounty that this Guyana of today makes possible. So much, yet so little for so many.All Guyana should have a better season. It is that time. To my fellow citizens: a wish, a prayer, for a holiday that lifts up, regardless of circumstances. There is always tomorrow.