Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 6th 2015 Contents "You don t look like
yourself," his sister
said. The man looked
up from the book he d been star-
ing at in his lap. "I don t feel
much like myself," he replied.
"But, then, it s been a while since
"Been a while since you did the
dishes, too," said his sister. She
dropped her handbag on the
bookshelf at the door and crossed
over to the "kitchen" on the
other wall of the studio apart-
ment and began washing up.
"How long you been sitting
there?" "What day is it?" he
asked. "Friday," she replied.
Since Wednesday, then, he
thought, but made no answer
aloud. "You need a shave!" she
said, after a few minutes silent
soaping. She wrinkled her nose.
"And a shower!" She opened the
small window above the sink and
air immediately began to flow
through the apartment.
"Is it safe to always have the
door open like that?" she asked.
"They don t cut people s heads
off and throw their bodies in
their car trunks on Lady Chancel-
lor," he replied. "No," she said,
"they just toss the cadavers down
The man frowned. "What it is
really happening to this place?"
he said, aloud, though it was
really a thought. His sister wiped
her hands on the dishtowel and
moved over to stand above him.
"What it is really happening to
you?" she asked. "Why haven t
you answered your phone?"
The man sighed.
"You remember Lucy?" As if
anyone in his family could forget
the one woman who had almost
made him give up being in a rock
band in Trinidad---could there be
a more frustrating, less financially
secure, occupation?---and take the
job in the bank and settle down.
"Lucy in the Sky with Di-mates?
You should have married her," his
sister said, "instead of Yvonne.
You d still be married now." "No,
I wouldn t," he said. "She died on
His sister s mouth made, "O"
and she sat down heavily next to
"Just turned 40," he said, before
she could ask. "Five years younger
than me. Brain tumour. Very fast,
on the upside. Only one morning
in an American hospital. Family
might have a few bucks left."
As if there could be an upside.
Every death was dread, any life
was better. Even the toothless old
folk gasping to suck down their
mushy peas could actually taste
them. Even Alzheimer s sufferers
could have occasional lucid inter-
vals and know, however fleetingly,
that they were there for that
moment, instead of gone forever.
A flicker of reality was worth
an imaginary eternity of supposed
bliss that couldn t be felt, anyway.
What would he discern anything
with, if he were dead? A cell
phone? A GPS?
His inability to continue believ-
ing in a God who wouldn t help
and her refusal to stop was what
had broken them up. She had
eternity in her God s Paradise to
look forward to; he had his three-
score-and-ten -- the only thing
remotely credible in the Bible, or
any so-called holy book. He
would feel peace, now, instead of
anger, if he could persuade him-
self she had gone on to a better
place, instead of leaving children
to mourn her for the rest of their
own now-miserable lives. She was
a good mother, a loyal---he d test-
ed her himself---loving wife and
had reverted to being a good
Muslim who d worn the veil from
the time they d broken up.
And God still took her; the
The proper response, the
rational reaction, was to reject
such a ridiculous proposition as
an omnipotent, omniscient,
omnipresent God who wouldn t
lift an almighty firetrucking finger
to delay a mother s brain tumour
until her daughter got her first
period. Instead, Lucy had been
led---had been required---to reject
outright bacon as unholy and
swallow wholesale a 7,000-year-
old Earth. Do not go gentle into
that good self-delusion, he
"You re going up for the funer-
al?" his sister asked. He shook his
head. She d been buried before
sundown Wednesday, like all good
Muslims--- Allah, a 6th Century,
refrigeration-free God, considered
His believer s dead bodies as
unclean as His living pigs.
And what would he say, any-
way, to people who d almost been
his in-laws but who would view
him as, not just an outlaw, but an
infidel? That their sister, their
daughter, had taught him how to
love a woman, but not the
woman she became. That there
was a greater gulf between he and
them than between them all and
Lucy? That any God he could
conceive of would prefer His cre-
ations to love one another than
worship Him? The same God
they should be angry with, for
taking their beloved, they would
praise! The meaning of "Islam" is
"submission"---but who had made
him a rock-and-roll rebel, if not
God? All the world s troubles
began with unquestioning belief;
and the one thing he knew for
sure was that, if their species had
been given a gift by God, it was
the question, "Why?"
"I couldn t figure out how to
stay with a religious person," he
said. "Same with Yvonne: she
wanted Opus Dei Catholic chil-
dren. You think I could teach
anyone I respected that the
mother of God was a virgin? Was
impregnated by a dove? That had
to be one charming firetrucking
His sister stroked his hair with
one hand, unconsciously fingered
the crucifix around her neck with
the other. "You re in shock," she
said. "You re missing Lucy. But
she s gone to a better place."
The man sighed.
"So," he said, "they say."
In loving memory of Lisa
Uddenberg Simmons, b September
12, 1959, d November 1, 2015
BC Pires is having a Guinness, for
the colour as much as the taste, and
Friday, November 6, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
If we were honest we would have admitted by now
that we are in a quandary over the crime situation in the
country. It is becoming more and more evident that we
have no solution to the problem.
There may be two or more reasons for this of which
one is that we are taking the wrong approach and an-
other is that we may not have defined correctly the na-
ture of the problem that we are trying to solve.
The approach that we are taking places the burden on
the government, the police, the authorities. This we may
deem the top-down approach; this works well when we
have the right ideas and we thereafter put them into ac-
tion. Moreover, the ideas may be inappropriate because
we have not adequately identified the issues.
I wish to suggest that we treat the crime issue as one
of dysfunctional behaviour throughout society. If this di-
agnosis is correct it lends itself very readily to the bot-
tom-up approach that always makes fuller use of our
resources. We can start by training those responsible for
guiding behaviour at the lowest level of the society in
methods of changing behaviour by involving parents,
teachers and supervisors.
The expertise for this may already reside within the in-
stitutions and professionals that specialise in psychology.
In addition, there are small pockets within the society
where such dysfunctional behaviour is not as prevalent
from which additional knowledge may be gleaned.
Lennie M Nimblett,
Solve societal dysfunction
from bottom up
BLACK SHEEP DOWN
A too-short story
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